Turning the Tables: Using the Academy in the Battle Against Psychiatry


The impetus for this article is an exciting new scholarship endowed in perpetuity which has just been launched at University of Toronto. It is a “matching scholarship” in which I personally match up to $50,000 of contributions by other donors. Called “The Dr. Bonnie Burstow Scholarship in Antipsychiatry,” the scholarship is to be awarded annually to a thesis student at OISE/UT conducting antipsychiatry research. An award of this nature is historically unprecedented, and as such, is itself something to celebrate. It is also part of a larger phenomenon of using academia in the battle against psychiatry. Shedding light on that larger phenomenon as well as on the scholarship per se, such are the purposes of this article.

Foucault portrait. Flickr/Thierry Ehrmann.
Foucault portrait. Flickr/Thierry Ehrmann.

Why have I dubbed this article “Turning the Tables”?  Because what is involved here is precisely taking a leaf from psychiatry’s book. In this regard, not unlike other hegemonic disciplines, albeit far more aggressively than most, as shown by Foucault (1963/1973) and Burstow (2015), psychiatry has long used academia to legitimate its claims and further what it regards as “knowledge”. Not only does academic psychiatry train people to think/act in ways that serve it, its sheer existence serves as a primary source of legitimation.

Albeit we do not have the potential to make the same kind of inroads, let me suggest, it behooves those of us who oppose psychiatry to likewise use academia. Herein we have the opportunity to challenge, to educate, moreover to lend a hand to what Michel Foucault (1980) calls “the insurrection of subjugated knowledge.” In the process, we can at once further antipsychiatry knowledge and add to its perceived legitimacy.

The rise and growing acceptance of Mad Studies is an example which elucidates this principle (see http://www.universityaffairs.ca/features/feature-article/mad-studies/). Mad views have gained unprecedented legitimacy of late not simply because they provide important perspectives, note, but because courses dubbed Mad History have become a standard part of curriculum in such areas as Critical Disability Studies in several universities. Of course, not being inherently abolitionist, Mad Studies is, as it were, an “easier sell” than antipsychiatry.

Examples of what can realistically be done at this point—and to varying degrees some of us have been doing this for decades—is to rigorously integrate an antipsychiatry analysis into our classes, involve students in our antipsychiatry research, and mount conferences in which antipsychiatry is highlighted—e.g., the historical PsychOut conference (see http://individual.utoronto.ca/psychout/). Via such routes, very real reframing happens.  Some students (both ones new to antipsychiatry and old hands at it) go on to conduct their own research into some aspect of psychiatry, thereby contributing to this growing area of scholarship. At the same time, academia puts the stamp of credibility on such “knowledge”, in essence, legitimates it in the public eye.

Now there are “onside” faculty who intentionally water down their critique of psychiatry, perhaps because they have been attacked by colleagues, as to a fair extent all of us are, perhaps out of fear for their jobs. Given the difficulty of standing one’s ground in the face of this particular power nexus, that is totally understandable. Let me invite such colleagues nonetheless not to automatically to pull back, for the fight is a vital one; we are slowly but surely winning this battle. Moreover, there are other ways for us to protect ourselves. Which brings me to my own extensive history as the one of the sole academics who publically identifies as an antipsychiatry professor.

Since the early 1980s, in every university in which I have taught, I have invariably integrated an unapologetic and hard-hitting antipsychiatry analysis into my work and in every case, the results were positive. That is, despite some students having profound misgivings at least initially, most students quickly found themselves intrigued.  Soon even those who began by dismissing my position or declaring it “extreme” found themselves seriously entertaining vantagepoints that would once have been unthinkable. Telling in this regard is a student who felt she had to be in the wrong class because the perspective utterly alarmed her. By the third class of the course, she vowed never again to set foot in any of my classes.  She proceeded to skip the next class, pretty sure she would not come back. Not only did she soon return and not only did she stick with this class, but she went on to take every single course that I offered. By the same token, over the years a high percentage of my students have ended up abandoning the concept of “mental illness”—something initially unimaginable. Correspondingly many have become antipsychiatry activists and researchers in their own right and gone on to influence others. This is precisely the beauty of what can be achieved in academia.

In this respect, though it may often seem as if no one wants the knowledge which antipsychiatry scholars/activists offer—and on one level this is true—on another, people,  especially the young, are virtually hungering for a radically different vantage point.

Which brings me to the question of direct opposition—a problem that leads many privately highly critical colleagues to “soft peddle” their message. Of course there is opposition, just as there has always been opposition to anything which challenges accepted orthodoxies and runs counter to vested interests. And indeed, I have commonly encountered over-the-top opposition myself as well as more subtle obstruction. More generally, inevitably in every single university in which I have taught, because I am uncompromisingly antipsychiatry and known to be so, at some point or other, there have been efforts to derail both me and my agenda. What is significant here, however, is that none of it ever came from students. Moreover, the opposition has been monumentally unsuccessful. Indeed, if anything, it has but added to my credibility and detracted from the credibility of those out to silence my analysis. The point is that academic freedom is a principle that universities hold dear. And strange though this may seem, it offers very real protection.

Am I in any way suggesting that faculty who introduce new counterhegemonic knowledge are equally rewarded for their efforts as those who replicate traditional (and inherently oppressive) “knowledge”? Not remotely, and especially not in an area like antipsychiatry, which is at odds with disciplinary fields which academia actively supports and whose related industries (e.g., Big Pharma) channel substantial money into university coffers. Am I denying that their work may be trivialized or looked down upon? Of course not. As we all know, that commonly happens, especially to faculty who are psychiatric survivors and known to be so.  Nor would I in any way want to minimize the very serious plight of excellent scholars whose repeated attempts to land a permanent university job have come to naught because of their personal history, their identity (mad, racialized, etc.) or their antipsychiatry stance. This problem is only too real, and this too we need to fight. Nonetheless, it is a mistake to minimize the value of academic freedom as a safeguard.

To clarify the distinction that I am making here, antipsychiatry faculty may be overlooked in all sorts of ways, may be relegated to dead-end positions, may never have their work spotlighted, may even be actively disrespected (all of which, without question, is highly serious and is in its own way a violation of academic freedom). This notwithstanding, if someone obviously and overtly tried to interfere with a faculty member educating from an antipsychiatry perspective, for the most part, even if unenthusiastically, the university will side with the faculty member under attack. Why? Precisely because even in the eyes of the conventionally minded, such interference violates the university’s commitment to academic freedom. The point here is that the commitment to academic freedom has genuine substance, this, despite the ongoing violations of the commitment.

Factor in this commitment and have your wits about you, if your employment is relatively secure, and even in a surprising number of cases where it is not, as an antipsychiatry academic, when it comes to teaching as you wish, you can generally easily win most fights.  Whereupon, in a very effective way, you begin to turn the tables. Some examples from my own history:

In my first year teaching social work in a university in western Canada (and yes, I was junior, and no, I did not remotely have tenure), members of the psychiatry department were distressed upon learning of a ten-minute talk which I gave in one of my classes on the circular nature of psychiatry’s use of language. Their response was to write the head of social work to request that psychiatric faculty be allowed to enter my classroom and in essence teach their own perspective. The rationale given was that this way my students would benefit from having more than one perspective. Well aware that my freedom to teach as I wished (translation: academic freedom) was at stake here, the head of social work handed me the letter and asked me to respond. I wrote back stating, “In the interest of my students having access to more than one perspective, I am more than happy to allow your faculty time in my classes –but only if in the interest of your students likewise gaining additional perspective, I similarly be invited into your classes.” (Burstow correspondence, November 15, 1987).

Given the ostensible “sensibleness” of my response, given what would be seen as its “even-handedness”, realistically, only one of two things could have happened at that point: 1) they take up the challenge, in which case, as most of us are aware, a solid antipsychiatry critique can beat psychiatric propaganda handily –and so I win (indeed, I win doubly for my message has now gained access to an otherwise unreachable audience) or 2) they decline the challenge, in which case I would have exposed their claim to believe in multiple perspectives as a ruse, moreover, begun to demonstrate that even in their own eyes, they cannot hold their own against an antipsychiatry analysis—in which case once again, I win.  So what happened? The second. We never heard back from them.

Another example: Shortly after I was offered and accepted a position in social work at a university in eastern Ontario, a credentializing body wrote the President of the university threatening that if this offer of employment was not rescinded, the department’s social work credentialization was in jeopardy. Once again, the attempt to block me backfired, and it did so in part because the university would not tolerate such blatant interference with academic freedom.

A third example: When Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault, OISE’s Adult Education and Community Development program, and I mounted the historic PsychOut Conference at University of Toronto, flexing their muscles, as it were, higher-ups in the psychiatric faculty wrote the President of the university, protesting the existence of such a conference and more significantly, its association with University of Toronto. Similarly one faculty member in psychology wrote, stating that the conference should be canceled in the interests of avoiding confusion.  Otherwise the psychology students who would inevitably attend, she argued, would end up unnecessarily baffled, for they would be bombarded with messages at odds with what they were being taught in psychology classes.

The objections were forthwith forwarded to the OISE dean, who was asked to respond. The dean passed them onto the Chair of my department. The chair passed the onus to respond onto me. To hone in on just one of these, to the applause of the psychology students who began excitedly flocking to meetings of the organizing committee responsible for planning the conference, my response to one outraged colleague went as follows:

In the end, we all have to accept that it is part of academic freedom that scholars bring different and often incompatible claims to knowledge to the table. The hope is that students are enriched by gaining exposure to the very different worldviews and agendas. It falls to them as intelligent human beings and budding scholars to sort out where they themselves stand, having listened to the different positions—and I trust in their ability to do so.” (letter from Burstow, April 25, 2010).

We never heard back from the irate colleague again. And for all intents and purposes, the Conference proceeded as planned—except now a growing excitement had been sparked.

The point is, if handled in the manner which Gandhi followers have dubbed “moral jiu jitsu” (see http://civilresistance.info/sites/default/files/thepowerofnonviolence0206.pdf), opposition to us can actually serve our own ends of exposing and in the process winning hearts and minds. Again, a turning of the tables.

My encouragement to fellow academics, accordingly, is not to make soft peddling your antipsychiatry message your default mode. While for sure there are times when “lying low” makes sense, there are other and generally better ways for us to protect ourselves. And never forget that the liberal value of academic value is highly serviceable, irrespective of the fact that we are not liberals but radicals.

More generally, mastering the skill of moral jiu jitsu is necessary. Whereupon, the university becomes an important and viable site for our antipsychiatry work—something accomplishable, note, in lectures, in class discussions, in the framing of assignments, in the activist/survivor speakers we are now able to bring in, in special events, in the actual norms of our classes (e.g., one of my class norms is “no mentalistic or psychiatric jargon”), even, as shown above, in fighting the very opposition which initially looks like it will derail us. The point is, paradoxically, both despite and because of the elitism of the venue, and both despite and because of the manifest opposition, there are niches in the  academy which are potential antipsychiatry strongholds—we have but to have courage and do the strategic work needed.


Which brings us to this article’s second objective.

A particularly fruitful way that faculty members can use academia to both further antipsychiatry and to add to its perceived legitimacy is to encourage, supervise, and support antipsychiatry theses. Conducting such research affords students the opportunity to contribute in a major way to antipsychiatry knowledge creation.

Now it goes without saying that such knowledge creation will continue to happen irrespective of whether or not students conducting such research receive awards. This notwithstanding, given the economic straits of oh-so-many graduate students, the financial is hardly irrelevant. Correspondingly, one added measure that antipsychiatry faculty can take is to both nominate their antipsychiatry students for awards and help sponsor antipsychiatry-specific awards. The latter, I would add, is particularly important for the reality is that given the hegemony of psychiatry and the privileged place which psychiatry holds within academia, budding young antipsychiatry scholars have appreciably less chance of winning awards than those involved in more traditional areas of knowledge-building.

More generally, the very creation of one or more antipsychiatry scholarships is a game-changer. Obviously a university cannot have a scholarship in this area without at the same time “recognizing” the area. And insofar as universities “recognize” the area, so does the world at large. By the same token, while it goes without saying that we understandably all have different priorities, anything, however little, that any of us can do to make such scholarships a reality, irrespective of whether or not we are academics or even particularly value academia, is an effort well spent, for it announces to the world that antipsychiatry has legitimacy and it paves the way for ever greater forays into it. In the process, I would add, it helps put a stop to the ongoing harassment of antipsychiatry professors, thereby making it easier for antipsychiatry faculty and would-be faculty to do the job that we in the movement so desperately need them to.

Understanding all this, after a nine month stint of negotiating with University of Toronto officials, who began transparently uneasy with the subject matter, several years ago I arranged for the vast majority of my estate upon my death to go into setting up huge scholarships in this area. And it is with this understanding that likewise, with help from allies –institutional and otherwise—I proceeded to set up the far smaller Dr. Bonnie Burstow Scholarship in Antipsychiatry, outlined at the beginning of this article. My thought here was that besides that the time is ripe, this smaller scholarship could, as it were, prepare the ground for the far larger ones that will materialize later. And a very good thing it was too that I took this measure, for the current scholarship came close to not be approved, and without it,  the tentative agreement about the scholarships set up in my will would surely have been in jeopardy.

The resistance to this scholarship that inevitably materialized, I would add, is itself an indicator of its importance. Moreover, and what is not unrelated, the transparency of the resistance led several institutional players whose support, while real, had begun as relatively modest—including from within the university—to strongly come onside.  Whether this was mainly because the need to uphold academic freedom became increasingly obvious or because they noticed that—lo and behold—they were smack in the middle of a David-and-Goliath story, or because the very struggle itself led them to look at the substantive issues more closely, herein once again we see a “turning of the tables”.

I would add here, I thank these fellow institutional warriors with all my heart—for you did no less than fight your hearts out—and you did so skillfully, with integrity, and with perseverance! What a force of nature you are!

To end where we began—by honing in on the current scholarship, already this scholarship initiative has a growing momentum. Besides that several donors have already contributed to it or made pledges, the scholarship has been endorsed by as formidable a figure as the member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament Reverend Cheri DiNovo.

Moreover it has been endorsed by absolute giants in the field like Dr. Peter Breggin, Don Weitz, and Dr. Lauren Tenney, all of whom are very clear about its importance. In this regard, Peter writes:

I am Peter R. Breggin, MD and I am a psychiatrist. As a professional long heralded as the conscience of psychiatry, it is my pleasure to endorse the newly formed Bonnie Burstow Scholarship in Antipsychiatry. Science is demonstrating that psychiatric diagnosis and drugs, electroshock, and involuntary treatment are doing much more harm than good.  We desperately need critical scholarship aimed at stopping this epidemic of demoralization, dehumanization, and brain damage.  –Dr. Peter Breggin

By the same token, survivor and activist Don Weitz writes:

As a psychiatric survivor, antipsychiatry and social justice activist for over 30 years, I strongly support the Bonnie Burstow Scholarship in Antipsychiatry at the University of Toronto.  Dr. Burstow’s recent book Psychiatry and the Business of Madness (2015) is a masterful work and brilliant breakthrough. I feel sure the Scholarship will attract and empower many survivors, students, and scholars. It’s time antipsychiatry is officially and widely recognized as a legitimate and growing international movement. This Scholarship will help make it happen.  —Don Weitz.

Correspondingly, the indefatigable Lauren Tenney writes:

As a psychiatric survivor and a mad environmental social scientist/psychologist, I am honored to endorse the Bonnie Burstow Scholarship in Antipsychiatry.  How radical!  How timely! We are so fortunate to have in Bonnie Burstow, a visionary with a commitment to exposing psychiatry, and assisting people making their way into the field, to not have to fight for a right to hold an antipsychiatry position. State-sponsored organized psychiatric industries target children, women, people of color, seniors, and people from oppressed groups. The opportunities such a scholarship program present are enormous for the growth of research that will hold psychiatry accountable.  The important feminist, anti-racist work that can be accomplished from an antipsychiatry framework is significant, not only for those awarded this new scholarship, but for those working with and near those in slated positions designed to allow people to honestly speak out about the damages psychiatry creates. This brilliant move by Burstow is a    game-changer that will further solidify the growing field of antipsychiatry in North America, and around the world. If you are able to support this effort, please do so, today.  –Lauren Tenney, PhD, MPhil, MPA, Psychiatric Survivor

The overly generous depiction of me aside, I am grateful for the words of these remarkable and steadfast allies. How reassuring that they instantly recognized the significance of this moment! And how wonderful that they have so enthusiastically become involved!

In ending, I would invite readers who are able and so inclined to consider also becoming involved—in any way that feels right to you. Simply helping spread the word about the scholarship would be terrific.  Perhaps email people about it or post a description on your website. If you are able and wish to make a financial contribution (all donations, whatever the size, are welcome), the method is: Everyone other than Americans, write a cheque payable to University of Toronto and send it to Sim Kapoor at: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 252 Bloor St. West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5S 1V6. By contrast, Americans, make the cheque out to: The Associates of the University of Toronto, Inc., and send it to: Dr. Gary Kaufman, Treasurer, The Associates of the University of Toronto, Inc., 58 West 84th St., # 2F, New York, New York, USA, 10024. In all cases, insert on the memo line: For The Bonnie Burstow Scholarship in Antipsychiatry. And yes, with Canadians and Americans the charitable receipt that will be duly issued can be used for tax purposes for they are recognized respectively by Revenue Canada and US Internal Revenue.

For more information on the scholarship, see this page on the University of Toronto website, and this post on Mad in America. To contribute online (an alternative route), go to this donation page. Correspondingly, for answers to other questions that you may have, write to: [email protected].

Finally, one parting invitation: For those of you who are likewise antipsychiatry, whether you do so in relationship to this scholarship or otherwise, whether via academia or the far larger world beyond, whether you operate in the streets, in the classroom, on the internet, or in the boardroom, before you go to bed tonight –and the next night, and the next—think of ways that you too can be involved in “turning the tables” –for, make no mistake about it: Such—and no less—is the nature of the challenge facing us.


Burstow, B. (2015). Psychiatry and the business of madness. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Foucault, M. (1963/1973). The birth of the clinic. London: Tavistock.

Foucault, M. (1980). Power/Knowledge. New York: Pantheon.


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. Thank you, Bonnie for all the good work you’re doing. I wonder tho, about your faith in ‘academic freedom’…and it’s endurance in public/private institutions. I have seen what has happened to the BSD movement; the firing of professors, the squelching of dissent on campus…the *laws* passed forbidding the support of Palestine in their struggles against the realities of living under apartheid in the ever expanding state of Israel. I am the only one who sees the similarities of all current social justice issues?

    I’m excited to read your post here today; MiA has me worried with all the recent changes. It’s refreshing to ‘hear’ someone talk about anti psychiatry ‘out loud’.

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  2. This looks like a great step forward. The scholarship name alone, being associated with a large and mainstream university, automatically normalizes and legitimatizes the term ‘antipsychiatry’. Language always matters. So nice to have a reason to be optimistic, where so much of the news is otherwise quite depressing.

    Liz Sydney

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  3. As an academic, I am hard pressed to see how all of your work will influence anything, especially in the MD world. Any change has to come from within. A few outliers’ kudos do not make a movement. I prefer pieces that stick to the point, not simply promote the author. If I were your editor, I would suggest half as long, cutting the extraneous, get to the point, use evidence.

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    • If you are largely looking for short, my articles are not for you, and you do better to skip them. As it happens I consider nothing in my article extraneous. It is an exploration of a topic. Will my writing influence MDs? Not the most obvious target. Nor does that worry me, for change from within is not what I am seeking. Psychiatrists will not get rid of psychiatry–for their interests runs counter. By the same token, any “reform” which they do will leave the damaging processes in tact. Please note in this regard, there are two different strains of theorists that write in this venue–the critical psychiatry folk and the antipsychiatry folk. And I belong to the latter.

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      • Fair enough. But who is your audience, then? Has the person you want to reach read Foucault? If this is just for the ivory tower, I still don’t see how this will create any change. I am anti-psychiatry, too, but writing for a different audience. After decades in academia, I just don’t see how academic discussion does anything beyond stimulating other academics. Pretty limited effect, it would seem. I still don’t see any purpose to what you’re doing.

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        • The person that I am trying to reach may or may not have read Foucault. I don’t just have just one audience. Yes, I want to reach the academic, and in an article on using academia –and only in such an article–they are of course one of the primary audiences. More generally, I am interested in reaching everyone who is open to strategizing with me about how to bring down psychiatry.

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      • Good for you. Keep up with the discussion — I said nothing about character. Just because you say that something is a construct, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Gender is a construct — does that mean gender doesn’t exist? It’s all well to go tilting at windmills, but I want to know specifically what to do when you need corn milled. It’s all well and good to say white middle class maladies can be handled otherwise. But what about the hard cases?

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  4. This is exciting news indeed. Critical psychiatry began by trying to consign anti-psychiatry to history. Anti-psychiatry itself, like the psychiatric survivor movement, has experienced its own die off without the concurrent influx of new victims the psychiatric survivor movement receives. Given scholarship and ongoing classes, not only will it be more difficult to quash, but perhaps now it will have a more vibrant future.

    Google anti-psychiatry news sometime and most of the articles that come up will have an anti-anti-psychiatry bias. This is a result of the kind of PR campaigning you can read about in Psychiatry Under the Influence, as well as of the disease mongering of the drug companies. “Treating mental disorder” (i.e. torture) is big and corrupt business. Hopefully, getting anti-psychiatry on the curricula might help to change this situation.

    I have been accused of being an extremist due to my anti-psychiatric position and principles. Although I have been so accused, I have never abducted, imprisoned, tortured, nor killed anybody. I have never mutilated the brain of a living person, nor induced seizures in a human body through electricity, nor locked a person up in solitary/seclusion, etc. I have not killed a multitude of people through ill health producing chemicals. Psychiatry, on the other hand, has committed all of these ordinarily criminal acts with impunity. Psychiatry can’t make the same claim. That, I call extreme.

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  5. Thank you for your excellent article and cogent analysis of the games people play, Bonnie. It is so true that when faced directly with clear anti-psychiatric arguments and with refusal to back down, psychiary supporters’ houses of cards tend to fold, and often very quickly.

    As a person working outside the mental health field in a totally different field of work, and as someone who’s now not only partly self-employed but also backstopped by family money, I feel relatively secure to criticize psychiatric practices publicly under my real name – as I am now doing through my articles on this site and my writing elsewhere.

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  6. Dear Dr. Burstow,

    I am a medical student with a sincere interest in Mental Health & Psychiatry. I thank you for your care towards the many patients that suffer from mental illness and the uphill battle they must fight in today’s limited psychiatric care model.

    With that said, have you lost all hope in Psychiatric care? Also, why do you frame a picture of Psychiatry being so evil? I sincerely believe in mental illness, but just don’t think we have all the answers yet. I also believe that myself and Psychiatrists that I have come across, actually genuinely care about the well being of our patients. As I watch my patients suffer day in and out with or without medication, I agree that there is much to be changed and learned. I hope to be a part of this change throughout my career. However, it hurt me to see that you created a scholarship to invalidate a whole field aimed at genuinely treating some of the most vulnerable people in the world…I look forward to your reply.

    With respect & a sincere hope for the future of our mentally ill,

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    • They suffer with and without “medication.” Hence, the “medication” is not specifically helping them with any particular “disease” but only in some cases suppressing symptoms. Do you consider the fact that some people drink after work to reduce anxiety a sign that they have “anxiety disorders” and that alcohol is “medication?” In truth, benzos have almost the same effects and side-effects as alcohol. Why isn’t alcohol prescribed as a “treatment” for anxiety?

      If you really want to know why Bonnie has lost all hope in psychiatry, read some of the stories here, and read “Anatomy of an Epidemic” by Robert Whitaker, or read his more recent publication, “Psychiatry Under the Influence.” There is very good reason to doubt the efficacy and the integrity of psychiatry as a profession.

      —- Steve

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    • There is a profound difference between us. While I believe people can have dire problems in living, including enormous distress and confusion, I do not believe in “mental illness”. This, I see as a medical fiction that does not serve but rather harms the group that it is hypothetically serves. And evil is not so much the word that I would use but rather harmful and self-interested. If you want to know why, Kal, do check out my book Psychiatry and the Business of Madness, where the whole issue is discussed in great detail.

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      • “While I believe people can have dire problems in living, including enormous distress and confusion, I do not believe in ‘mental illness’.”

        I’m trying to find clarity here, and I like how you stated this, Bonnie, it’s very concise. Part of my education on MIA has been to learn more in depth about how people perceive the phrase “mental illness” and also the phenomena to which people commonly refer as “mentally ill.” I use the plural, because I think to different people, it means different things. I know there is more than one phenomenon of being in our culture which perpetuates this label. I also know that for some, like you and others I’ve read on here, it is non-existent, a social illusion which serves only those that made it up.

        What you say here I think is true for everyone–that we all, at times in life, feel enormous distress and confusion. And yes, some have more extreme hardships than others. But not everyone who has hardships gets a diagnosis, and not everyone who gets a diagnosis has had extreme hardships. But still, we all have times of extreme confusion and high anxiety, to the point where it interferes with our ability to focus and stay present, and which can turn into extreme self-doubt, haunting thoughts, and negative thinking patterns, even sabotaging (to self or others) ideations.

        Especially as we move on in years, we all go through these passages at one or more times. I think it’s a natural part of our evolution. If there is an exception to this, I’d very much like to know about it. These passages start early in life, it’s normal for even kids, part of growing up. How parents handle their stress will be the model, by example, of how the kid handles theirs.

        My question then, is: what allows some people to manage this, integrate it, and move on with new awareness, while others get stuck in the distress and confusion, and it becomes a chronic lifetime thing? No doubt that will lead to life hardships along the way, in and of itself.

        We have, indeed, identified psychiatric drugging as one way to get stuck, which is why I feel that these practices are barbaric and consider them crimes against humanity, pure and simple. But people who do not seek psychiatric services get stuck in distress, too. I’m wondering why some can free themselves from distress and why some cannot?

        I don’t think it’s a brain defect or genetic influence, not at all. Any physical issues can be compensated for and we adjust. That happens all the time.

        Socio-economic factors, oppressive cult-like communities/families, also play a part in creating chronic states of distress, but again, some evolve from this while some do not.

        So I’m wondering what it is that would create this difference, so that, perhaps, we can figure out how to help people get unstuck, so they are not chronically wallowing in distress and confusion. Feels to me like this would relieve a lot of suffering, overall, both short and long term, as well as individually and communally. That would ripple out fast.

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        • Good question –and let me say I don’t think in this case that there is a single answer that fits everyone. Some people get stuck because stuff that happened in their earlier years and the triggers connected with them stop them from grappling constructively. Some because they do not get the support which they need. Some because the oppression out there is continuing to hammer at them, often relentlessly. Some because they are frighteningly isolated. Some because they have bought the line others (worse yet, generally professionals) can fix their problems.

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          • Yes, there are different factors, but everything you mention can be overcome, somehow, through personal growth and expanded awareness. If not, then what is the point of life? If we cannot overcome our tribulations, then we are doomed to a lifetime of suffering because we will continue to create only more of the same.

            People can learn new strategies all throughout life. At some point, awakening must occur in order to have quality of life.

            Unless, of course, one consciously chooses a life of suffering, which I guess is possible, although personally, I have a hard time understanding that. But I’d respect anyone’s choice, nonetheless, as long as they don’t use it to make others suffer. That’s when it becomes unacceptable, at least to me it does.

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          • I think it’s also important to realize that many of us had good childhoods. Psychiatry’s default mode is mother-blaming or parent-blaming. While it’s true that some of us did have terrible parents, where does that leave those of us whose trauma happened from outside the family, or later in life, or from psychiatry, diagnosis, and disease-model therapy?

            Back in the 1970’s many people entered therapy out of curiosity only, or because it was starting to get fashionable, or even to impress others of how cool and hip you were. Sadly, some of us got completely sucked in.

            I did have other options. I chose therapy myself, called them and made an appointment, a huge mistake on my part. I was influenced by my “hip” employer who loved therapy and saw it as God’s Gift to Mankind back in the 1970s and 80s, even though for sure I disagreed initially. So I’d say peer pressure got me into it. Ah, that one-way door.

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      • Thank you for your kind reply. I am currently rotating at a Forensic Psychiatric Unit. While I do believe that many of these patients have enormous distress and confusion stemming from early lifetime events, there are also many that have had no early life distress and are suffering from different hallucinations, anxiety, delusions, etc… Some had been having these issues prior to even starting any medication according to family reports. I don’t mind not calling it “Mental Illness”, but I must call these “symptoms” of a “problem” somewhere in the human body, most likely the brain. As an aspiring physician, these people & their loved ones are suffering; I would like to help. Medication may not be the answer in many cases, but from what I have seen, therapy helps in 100%, Social Work helps in 100% and most importantly is for the patient & their family to feel & see the doctor actually give a damn about them, which I do and many others do as well. It is true that our treatment options are limited, but I hope to pursue my career with an open heart to actually help my patients feel and function better. I would like to do this with support from all angles, including “antipsychiatry”. However, just the name “antipsychiatry” is too one sided Dr. Burstow. My Grandfather once told me to “never believe just one side regardless of what position you’re put in because you will always find good people to help you on each of those sides.” While I believe you and I are well intentioned good people; I see that you have chosen to believe in only one side while completely disregarding the other, which I see as unfair and overall hurtful to society. I would hope that you would take these young yet genuine words of a medical student starting his career in Psychiatry into account as you move forward so that when I am a resident physician we can work together to help those who need our help the most. Thank you.

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        • Kalmd: I understand your concern, but I cannot help you here–for the paradigm is simply wrong and when something is wrong, you have to get rid of it. Just as take one side only on the issue of slavery, I can take one side only on the issue of psychiatry–it is fundamentally flawed and harmful–and it has to go

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          • Dr. Burstow, I am sorry you feel this way. Psychiatric Physicians are definitely not comparable to slave owners. Nonetheless, thank you for taking the time to speak with me and I wish you well. 🙂

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          • The comparison with slave owning was to demonstrate one thing and one thing only–that is, it is not true that there always two legitimate sides to an issue. The issue that I am making is a logical one, Kalmd, and so it is totally irrelevant that slavery and psychiatry are not the same thing. The point is that there are not always two legitimate sides to an issue. If you want to know why I reject a side that you don’t, you would have to read my book Psychiatry and the Business of Madness. –All the best.

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    • Kal,

      Unlike many people on this site, I am not antipsychiatry but am anti BS in which most of psychiatry is. Examples:

      1. Continuing to perpetuate chemical imbalance hoax which is used to justify keep people on meds for life at great harm.
      2. Denying that withdrawal symptoms from psych meds exists and instead falsely claiming that is a return of the illness which is used as an excuse to pile more psych meds on someone causing horrific results.
      3. Denying that side effects from psych meds occur and falsely claiming that they are an indication of an untreated mental illness that needs more drugs which results in a horrific situation.
      4. Power tripping patients into forced commitment when they disagree with you about a med prescription. Yes, I know someone that happened to.
      5. Refusing to take someone off of a psych med when the situation is screaming for it and starts playing what I call the game of find the perfect med to lessen the side effects. I know someone who has been on antipsychotics for years who is now suffering horrific side effects. Instead of helping this person either reduce to a much lower dose or get her off of the meds, she switched her to an antipsychotic that supposedly doesn’t cause the poisonous side effects. We have all heard that song and dance.

      I hope you now understand why people are so angry and antipsychiatry. My advice to you if you really want to have a dialogue is to come across as listening to what people said and asking more questions if necessary that show you are really hearing us. Unfortunately, I fear you will be defensive and give the same song and dance that most pro psychiatry folks give that we can’t generalize all of of psychiatry as bad and there are some good ones like yourself. If you do that, then you wasting our time and might as well not post on this blog.

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      • Hi AA, definitely not the same song and dance here haha. I definitely see and hear the struggles you’re talking about. I posted a comment to Dr. Burstow below and will post it here for you in case you don’t get notifications. Thanks for your reply!
        “Thank you for your kind reply. I am currently rotating at a Forensic Psychiatric Unit. While I do believe that many of these patients have enormous distress and confusion stemming from early lifetime events, there are also many that have had no early life distress and are suffering from different hallucinations, anxiety, delusions, etc… Some had been having these issues prior to even starting any medication according to family reports. I don’t mind not calling it “Mental Illness”, but I must call these “symptoms” of a “problem” somewhere in the human body, most likely the brain. As an aspiring physician, these people & their loved ones are suffering; I would like to help. Medication may not be the answer in many cases, but from what I have seen, therapy helps in 100%, Social Work helps in 100% and most importantly is for the patient & their family to feel & see the doctor actually give a damn about them, which I do and many others do as well. It is true that our treatment options are limited, but I hope to pursue my career with an open heart to actually help my patients feel and function better. I would like to do this with support from all angles, including “antipsychiatry”. However, just the name “antipsychiatry” is too one sided Dr. Burstow. My Grandfather once told me to “never believe just one side regardless of what position you’re put in because you will always find good people to help you on each of those sides.” While I believe you and I are well intentioned good people; I see that you have chosen to believe in only one side while completely disregarding the other, which I see as unfair and overall hurtful to society. I would hope that you would take these young yet genuine words of a medical student starting his career in Psychiatry into account as you move forward so that when I am a resident physician we can work together to help those who need our help the most. Thank you.”

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          • Hi Oldhead, I personally believe the “mind” is in someway directly connected to the brain. I don’t know if we can independently call the mind an organ yet because we have yet to understand so much about it or the brain for that matter. From the cases that I have seen, Psychiatry measures the “problem” based on a level of functioning. When my patients can no longer complete their daily activities, it becomes a problem for them. Hence, the problem of the mind is to me is a problem in the body. Neurotransmitters probably play some role just because of the fact that they play a role in about EVERYTHING in our body,haha. But I don’t know what other factors, yet to be found, contribute to the issues. How about yourself, where do you think the problem stems?

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          • Regarding “where do you think the problem stems?”

            “Minding the store” has been a problem since the beginning of time.(when not where)
            Szasz explained morals (choices) are now being taken as mental illness(disease).

            Some obvious ones (sins) are Gluttony, and Covetousness.

            Only the sin of lack of compassion is still a valid sin.
            Won’t you help the children and sick? You won’t help them with medicine? You are cruel and lack compassion.
            In a war of words they (drug companies with fake research evidence) have already won.

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          • I’m not sure what problem we’re talking about. But being labeled as having a non-existent disease would be a main one.

            However there is a major reason why the mind is not an organ — it is an abstraction which cannot be seen or touched.

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        • Kalmd,

          Would you honestly expect someone who feels they were seriously traumatized by psychiatry to look at the other side? I don’t disagree with your grandfather about there usually being two sides to an issue but sometimes, there isn’t.

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        • “Psychiatry” is pretty one sided itself. First, it would presume a “disease” where none has been found to exist, and then it would study and “treat” that “disease”.

          As for sides, I’d put my money in resistance to fascism before I’d invest in any self-proclaimed “great” despot. So long as psychiatry is non-consensual and coercive, it is something that doesn’t belong in a free and open society.

          Your 100 % is based on presumption of “disease”. I see 0 % in that 100 %, that is, we don’t have a real argument based on real statistics, instead we’ve got mere rhetoric.

          You’re working in a Forensic Unit in which the line between police science and medical science is a complete blur. I have a real ethical issue with that kind of career pursuit. I don’t see nearly so much “help” in it as you do in it, and I, in fact, see much harm in it. Our prisons are over-crowded in the first place, and here you are working out of a holding ground for more potential cons. I would suggest that you could do much better in any other sort of career.

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        • Hi Oldhead,

          Because I feel the problems of psych meds and “mental health” transcends psychiatry. First of all, 80% of all psych meds are prescribed by non psychiatrists. Anecdotal evidence of this is many of the patients ends up on the surviving antidepressant website because they were prescribed meds by non psychiatrists for simply stresses in day to day loving. So even if psychiatry was wiped out from the face of this earth which I doubt will ever happen, it is not going to solve the problem of these drugs being way overprescribed.

          I also know a few people in which a psychiatrist was very helpful regarding their withdrawal issues. On another health board, I belong to, someone had been pawned off to a psychiatrist who finally directed this person to a helpful doctor. Another time, I read a story about a psychiatrist who correctly diagnosed someone as having a stroke after the previous doctors they saw misdiagnosed the person as having depression.

          Now granted, these are anecdotal experiences and perhaps they rarely occur but because of knowing about these, I am not comfortable being anti psychiatry. And it still doesn’t prevent me from calling foul on the profession when they provide alot of reasons for me to do so.

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          • So here’s my response, thanks for taking the time to articulate (and please continue to keep tabs on Jaffee)…

            So, these are my reasons why what you said are not, analytically speaking, incompatible with an anti-psychiatry position:

            — As for the prevalence of psychiatric drugs outside the confines of the industry itself (or more accurately as an expansion of the psychiatric industry): It is psychiatry which provides the ideology and rationale for its precepts being employed more and more widely in so-called “service” fields outside the domain of psychiatry per se. Wouldn’t it then make sense to oppose both psychiatry AND what you consider these extra-psychiatric examples of psychiatric drugging?

            — As for what you call the anecdotal examples, aside from the case of one shrink helping correct the results of another shrink’s medical malpractice, all of these are situations in which people may have may have been helpful; however this helpfulness is based on their individual competence as medical doctors or integrity as human beings — not anything intrinsic to their “also” status as psychiatrists.

            Most people who consider themselves anti-psychiatry are talking about the intellectual, scientific and medical foundations of the “profession,” not individuals so-employed (unless they have earned our disrespect as the result of specific behavior).

            So, how’s my logic?

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          • Hi Oldhead,

            I couldn’t directly reply to your comment so I am doing it here. Your logic is great as always.

            Your right, my position isn’t incompatible with being anti psychiatry. I think because I feel there is a lot wrong with conventional medicine in general, it is hard for me to be specifically against one particular branch of medicine. But that may just be an issue of semantics.

            I need to think more about what you said which is a good thing.

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    • Regarding “why do you frame a picture of Psychiatry being so evil?”

      The simple analogy is plastic surgery, and consent.
      If someone wants plastic surgery for a nose they think is too big, they can pay for a surgery.
      No one would force a plastic surgery on someone arbitrarily judged as needing plastic surgery for their ugly appearance.

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  7. Fantastic! To bolster what you already said, the very fact of Anti-Psychiatry being recognized by a major university as a legitimate field of study communicates a lot in itself. I remember when the group I worked with in the early 80’s opened a new business phone and as such was entitled to a descriptive entry in the Yellow Pages; the phone co. woman wouldn’t allow us to use phrase “anti-psychiatry information.” Being able to say things in an argument like “I was just talking to a professor of anti-psychiatry at such and such university and she said…” makes it all the easier to make whatever points follow.

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  8. Bonnie, I so admire your fortitude and sense of self for going against the grain of academia. 40 years of that would be quite the journey, I imagine. Congratulations on this profound manifestation of your professional and life goals.

    Btw, as an aside here–I wanted to thank you for the perspective you gave me in a dialogue a couple of months ago, it really paid off. As a result of this shift, I’ve been contracted as a teacher and trainer. Thank you for the inspiration to trust the process and to embrace the unknown. Obviously, you are an example of these, and of how to get meaningful results in doing so.

    So thanks, also, for walking your talk. Certainly cuts down on all the confusion! The best teachers set the example.

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  9. I don’t beleive in mental illness as I once did. Im begining to see it as human suffering more and more everyday. My parents on the other hand advocate for mental illness. The problem with them is they are close minded hippocrite who fear the unknown. Tell you the truth I have unexplained cpk levels that can go off the charts way over 3,000 which is way above the normal limit. Ever since I was 3 years old. All I’ve known is bullying and medication.. test after test after test, I’m a really tired soul and I’m only 29.

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  10. Bonnie

    Great idea and great work that has now come to full fruition. This is truly a significant blow struck against Psychiatry. Your legacy does and will continue to live on.

    This victory, and the whole way it was conceived and carried out, should stimulate all of to think about new ways we can contribute to bringing down the beast of psychiatric oppression in all its forms. Congratulations – “Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win.”

    Comradely, Richard

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  11. I am thrilled that this is happening! Kudos to the U of Toronto for supporting this! I noticed during my lengthy enslavement to psychiatry that any education of slaves and any exercising of Freedom of Speech by slaves was immediately squelched, drugged, or nipped in the bud by incarceration and scare tactics.

    This means this scholarship is hitting where it counts. Bravo and keep it up!

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  12. What is it that keeps psychiatry alive and well, despite all of its damning critics, and all the evidence of fraud and systemic malpractice, and all the horror stories out there now that are associated with having been a psychiatric client? Why has this not been enough to close down the shop?

    It is the ultimate irony that a field that was once about “listening” cannot hear the cries in their own houses. And in turn, they call its critics “delusional,” or some other conveniently discrediting label, and they actually get away with it–repeatedly, standard procedure. It’s become a psychic blood bath, it seems. What on earth is up with that?

    And, how safe is it to sit in an office having a private meeting, being vulnerable, confused, and sensitive, with someone who cannot hear critical feedback, and moreover, who becomes seriously and adamantly defensive when mirrored? Really, on the counter-attack. That is a disaster waiting to happen. It already has, over and over and over again. The blinders need to come off, for everyone’s sake.

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    • Alex

      You ask: “What is it that keeps psychiatry alive and well, despite all of its damning critics, and all the evidence of fraud and systemic malpractice, and all the horror stories out there now that are associated with having been a psychiatric client? Why has this not been enough to close down the shop?”

      To answer that question you just have to follow the money and the power. Big Pharma is now an essential component of the U.S. economy; it is too big to fail or somehow be allowed to suffer significant loses. And Psychiatry, with all its labels, drugs, and power to incarcerate without due process, plays a critically important role in subduing (or rendering “comfortably numb”) those sections of the people who historically have been rebels and creative agents of change.

      As long as this profit based economic and political system continues to stand as a major impediment to all human progress, these forms of oppression will not only sustain themselves, but most likely expand in influence. We all have much work to do to change this reality that presently consumes us all.


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      • Thanks, Richard, and I’m focused on this, too, rings completely true:

        “Psychiatry, with all its labels, drugs, and power to incarcerate without due process, plays a critically important role in subduing (or rendering “comfortably numb”) those sections of the people who historically have been rebels and creative agents of change.”

        When I was on the drugs, I was still connected to my creativity and utilized it, but I also experienced so many limitations which I thought were just who I was, naturally limited. Plus, I was mainstream in my thinking, I thought psychiatry was the way to go, didn’t give it a second thought.

        When I finally came off the drugs (because I knew they were killing me, it was evident by what was happening to my mind and body after all those years taking them) and got clear with myself, those limitations seemed to vanish, and not only was I suddenly able to be extremely creative and self-resourceful, but my thinking changed, and I could see how I had been duped and doped all those years. So my entire perspective shifted as a result of this experience. And it woke me up to exactly how society was oppressing and marginalizing people, via standard practices, and how this is what had been defining my self-perception and driving my anxiety.

        I’ve recently contracted with an alternative-to-the-system social service non-profit group where I am to be their trainer and to teach a new healing paradigm, based on natural healing and energy. I am hoping this ripples well. I’ve also started, along with partners, a center which will become non-profit soon, called Healing Academy for Performing Arts, to help people continue to grow and evolve as creative beings, with good support, and to their heart’s content. Aside from teaching, I’m also the music director and invite anyone to play in our band, as community service to senior citizens in assisted living facilities and rehab centers. So it’s community healing, as well. Trying to make a difference, here, based on all that I learned! It’s also extremely rewarding, personally.

        As far as the economics go, I agree we’re not set up for equality and justice in the slightest, and by definition, we are oppressed in a Babylonian debt-slave, ultra-rigid society. It is hard to make a living without playing into this, but I have experimented with all sorts of ways to stay afloat while providing affordable services. I do a lot of work for trade, too. As long as their is a fair exchange of energy, doesn’t have to be money.

        Thanks for the clear and direct response, Richard, makes perfect sense. I asked these questions because I think when we get to the root of any issues–as in, what is making this so sticky and stubborn–then we have good guidance around where to go next to create desired change. No doubt, this is about as sticky as it gets, I’ve never seen such stubbornness and lack of either interest or ability (or both) to improve the situation, in the face of such grave and numerous complaints!

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        • “We all have much work to do to change this reality that presently consumes us all.”

          I believe some people are successfully separating from these old illusory realities in order to create a more just and humane society which celebrates diversity rather than bashes and marginalizes those whom do not play the “fitting in” game, by being personal examples of change and transformation. Energy doesn’t stop; it must be transmuted in order for change to occur. That starts individually, before it can happen on a larger scale.

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  13. People who participate in anti-psychiatry movement are one of reasons,
    for my crazy kind decline.This is,because they are only against psychiatry,
    but they aren’t against Mental Health system.Psychiatry is part of this
    system,if you didn’t realized this,so far.Also psychology is part of Mental
    Health system.One thing is certain.Until this system exist,so does mental
    illness.Psychology won’t trigger demolition of this system.They have to
    many jobs in this system,much as psychiatry have.And we,who are
    crazy are doomed,until this rebellion against biology is going on.This
    is infamous rebellion,done by psychologists and psychiatrists.Which
    give my crazy kind only death,pain and misery.That’s the truth and
    no-one will prevent me,to wrote about it!

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    • The system exists but, as far as your assertion goes, “mental illness” exists, I say prove it. I don’t think it can be done, frankly, because I don’t think there is any such animal.

      The mental health system isn’t everything, there is life outside of it, and that’s where I would lay my money if I were you. We can fight the system, surely, but let it be outside of THAT system.

      Another way of “supporting the system” is assuming the “mental patient” role. I don’t have any faith in a “mental patient” movement. My faith is in a psychiatric survivor or “mental patient” liberation movement.

      “Patients” are fodder for the system. When one rejects the “mental patient” role, one is not supporting the “mental health” system with its expansive. intrusive, and self-perpetuating interests. Businesses are like that. We can win, but not by allowing ourselves to be victims (and puppets) of a killing system.

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      • Frank, I agree. No contact, at least not in the patient role. I do know many who are leaving, that is, cutting down gradually on contact with “them,” but not yet fully accomplished this.

        When I left i pretty much did the same. Dropped one, dropped another, via excuses, lies, canceling, and moving away. I recall once I ditched a provider by saying I had relocated, but hadn’t yet!

        A great technique that I found is convincing is: “I can’t talk right now because I am in a public location. Can i call you back in an hour or so?” Then don’t call back!

        Or, “I am headed to a funeral and need to reschedule. I’ll get back to you.” Don’t.

        Or, “Oh I called the psychiatrist you referred me to and am awaiting a callback.” You didn’t, but saying that will get you off the hook.

        Or, “Yes, I filled out that form to get my old records sent to you. You should be getting them shortly.” You didn’t, but they’ll probably never catch up.

        Ah, the escape methods are numerous! Time to get super creative!


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    • actually, almost all antipsychiatry folk are highly critical of other parts of the system and other so-called mental health professionals. The difference is that psychiatry is the major focus, and when it comes to professionals, while generally strongly opposing professional inroads, very few are calling for a total abolition of any other profession, though for sure we want to contest a good part of what they do, of the claims which they make, and naturally of the power which they wield. Personally I have been on record repeatedly stating that we do not need more psychologists, etc., in fact, we need a whole lot less. And I have consistently opposed what is called “professionalization”.

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  14. Dr. Burstow, I am sorry you feel this way. Psychiatric Physicians are definitely not comparable to slave owners. Nonetheless, thank you for taking the time to speak with me and I wish you well.

    I did not interpret Dr. Burstow’s comment as comparing slave owners to psychiatrists. Instead, I interpret her statement as centering around the debates that took place regarding slavery and how it compares to the debates taking place around psychiatry. The parallels between both issues stem less from pros and cons to what I see as good versus morally bankrupt.

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    • Please understand that my analysis is not a “feeling” but an analysis. And as I have said already, why I brought up slavery was only to make the point that there are not always two legitimate sides to an issues. There is not with racism; there is no with slavery; there is not with murder, and there is not whether or not with blood-letting. Nor is there with psychiatry–for the paradigm is wrong and the claims do not hold water. Not that I would disclaim that there is connection in some way between slavery and psychiatry –only that this was not the point that I was making.

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      • I did not interpret your statement as a comparison between slavery and psychiatry. Rather, my interpretation centered around the nature of the debates rather than the subject matter itself. That one side is right and the other side is wrong. We’re on the same page, worded differently for a variety of reasons.

        (fill in the modern atrocity) versus/parallels/comparisons to ante-bellum slavery/slave trade or the Holocaust should end. People have been doing terrible things to each other since the dawn of time. The real fight lies in encouraging true system change through a variety of channels (political, cultural, academic), not shaming people into behaving better than their ancestors.

        Why feelings versus analysis came up, I have no real clue.

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  15. Bonnie, I’ve watched a couple of your videos now, and looked at your books and your articles here.

    I think you are really far off base. This eutopia you are calling for with the emotional healers, is unrealistic. You know that that would be state run, and just amount to psychotherapeutic policing at every corner.

    And you are still saying that distressed people should just be talked out and treated like children. That is standard procedure right now where I am, not in every apartment building, but in the county hospital.

    Unless it is physically coercive, then all one needs to have to deal with psychiatry is a working middle finger. And the same applies to psychotherapy and your emotional healers. And this is how I would recommend dealing with them.

    No, what you promote is coercive treatment because you don’t understand what the real issues are or how it would work out.

    Saying no to psychiatry is not the issue, it is how to address the social injustices which cause people to feel alienated and helpless. You claim to be a feminist and want to protect women from violence, but you have made a political cause out of undermining laws designed to protect children from their parents.

    Calling for Community is fine, but one has to have some idea of how that is going to happen. And it if were real, then people would be involved and engaged, and would not need to be talked out as if they were meaningless. An apartment building full of people who need to be talked out is not Community, it is a Mental Hospital. And this is what you seem to want our entire society to be like.

    Zero cooperation with Bonnie’s emotional healers. And zero support for her Anti-Psychiatry chair. All she is calling for is a slicker form of state run social control, exactly what Michel Foucault dedicated his life to exposing!

    And lets get some Foucault experts on this, to pressure her into stopping using his name or picture.

    Things will change when people refuse all the Healing and Recovery stuff, and instead start taking legal and political action.


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    • As usual, Nomad, you seriously misinterpret me. I am all in favour of legal action. I don’t believe in states, and so the “eutopia” I am talking about is in a stateless society. I never remotely use the concept of recovery. I write about political actions and am persistently engaged in them. Also I am totally opposed to coercion and coercive “treatment”. As for Foucault, besides that to both of our satisfaction, the two us worked together in the 80s, I myself did not put his picture on the blog article (although i do not object to it). Mad in America did.
      that said, as responding to your comments in the past about my articles has never led to anything except what I see ever new misinterpretations–something which, I suspect, does neither of us any good: A heads-up, I won’t be responding to further comments of yours. Though of course, you are free to keep commenting, however unfairly.

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    • Nomadic — this has to be up there with your most inane posts to date. At first when you came here I thought you were a plant meant to discredit anti-psychiatry; then I decided you were just amped up from making your first contact with true anti-psych thought; now I’m sort of up in the air. But it’s getting to the point of not wasting the energy and moving on.

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      • Oldhead I tend to ignore comments that are clearly misinterpreting the writing of the blog writer. It’s kinda fruitless to argue such points.

        As for trolls on here, that I know of, many come here thinking we’re a bunch of nuts “off meds.” I guess they are too closed-minded to be capable of understanding the logic here.

        When I was a young kid in college I learned you cannot reason with a person who is drunk. Likewise, you cannot reason with a troll.


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        • Well, I don’t think Nomadic qualifies as a “troll” (though we get yelled at for using that term here anyway); he/she has a passionately intransigent attitude that is ultimately counterproductive. But I generally agree with your position.

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    • I agree with these two comments
      “don’t understand what the real issues are”
      “it is how to address the social injustices which cause people to feel alienated and helpless.”

      But I disagree that this “start taking legal and political action” is going to help much.

      I found that the social injustices which cause distress, alienation and helplessness are due to the exploitation of close relationship by related toxic people, most commonly there may be some in the family, some in friendships and some in the workplace. The problems are at the grass roots level, within the person’s interpersonal environment, that which is mentally shared by closely related individuals and to which the therapists and psychiatrists etc., are not privy.

      The reasons for such exploitation and the foul games that are played are three. One is to gain power and influence over the other person, second reason is to punish or get revenge and the third reason, which is always the case, is to get narcissistic supply, i.e., to get pleasure from the victim’s pain and suffering.

      The way out is knowledge. Knowledge is power.
      I was told about the foul game play by my late, toxic husband when, near the end of his life, he “came out of the closet” and revealed that he was toxic (inhumane) or in medical jargon, psychopathic. I had, up until that time, only seen the mast that he wore and wore convincingly. I discovered much more from many other toxic people since becoming an activist.

      Here in 5 videos I have documented what I discovered. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nxUl19yZU0&list=PL0vGp6lNGae1V9U4CmtAI0qAuxWZ2DzEg

      The only political action is for non-toxic (humane) people to network and to support one another. This will dis-empower the oppressors and deny them their narcissistic supply, i.e., the pleasure they get from seeing the other person’s pain and suffering, particularly when they have had a hand in causing such pain and suffering. It will mean the person not only overcomes their problems without medications and medical procedures but is able to maintain their health into ripe old age.

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  16. Until Mental Health system exist,so does mental illness.
    Anti-psychiatry movement didn’t realized,that psychiatry
    is part of this cursed system.We then need anti-Mental
    Health system movement.In America no-one can make
    unexcusable exclude of others.And anti-Mental Health
    movement,will do exactly this.But this is not American
    way.Imagine all psychologists and psychiatrists,without
    jobs and work.A lot of angry people.I shouldn’t wrote
    this one.But I did,for you my crazy brethren.

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    • Dear Borut Rudl, I asked the exact same question a while back. Why do we not call it anti-Mental Health System? I was quite pleased with the answer, which I will now relate to you or anyone who may be asking the same question.

      I believe it was Lauren Tenney who explained it to me. The MH System is based on psychiatry. This means psychiatry, which is backed by the State and arm-in-arm with the foster care system and penal systems, reigns over the entire System. It rules over how many traditional illness-based modalities of therapy are done, over the learned helplessness we acquire from being in the System, and psychiatry creates the deadly syndrome “Revolving Door.”

      Outside of this mainstream we see non-DSM-based practices, such as peer support and the Hearing Voices Network, among others. As a whole, we support these practices that are humane and uphold human rights. Although our beliefs are varied, most of us strongly oppose the use of force and coercion.

      I hope I have explained properly.

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      • Well put, Julie. The only thing it does not cover is the difference between antipsychiatry and critical psychiatry folk. Antipsychiatry folk like me, like Oldhead, like others, are seeking abolition not only of the obvious cooercion (which for sure is pivotal), but of the entire system

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        • I strongly feel that it’s a human rights abuse that these “professionals” claim to know more about their patients’ minds than the patients themselves. It’s a form of discrediting the individual while giving the professionals far too much power. For this reason, I feel that if a person wants help, the most effective help out there is going to be through egalitarian relationships. The power of listening and caring is the key to healing, well over any professional technique that may be out there. I heard there are currently 200 varieties of “therapy.” In my opinion, we need to strengthen community at this point. If community members are pouring their souls out in offices it will weaken community, break up marriages, and the family structure will head toward oblivion. It has already happened to so many of us.

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    • As I see it, anti-psychiatry is anti-mental-health-system. Ultimately, most psychologists and social workers collude with psychiatry in one fashion or another. The problem is the law. Get rid of the law that allows people to be locked up under medical pretenses, and nobody could be “treated” against his or her wishes. The old mental health system would lose its basis, and if anybody wanted to buy or sell, “mental disorder” and “treatment”, they would be free to do so. Ditto, buyers. However without forced treatment, “disorder” labels, brainwashing, and drugging, non-consensual coercion would be through. “Treatment” couldn’t be forced on anybody. The psychiatric plantation system would then be over and done with, kaput.

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  17. Bonnie: I’m 67 years old, a retired psychiatric RN with a degree in psychology who wanted to help people & gradually grew ashamed of myself for colluding in bio-psychiatry. I’m surprised & delighted that you have thrived in the academic environment. I like your advice to “don’t keep peddling your default mode”. How I wish I was 40 years younger! Rock on!

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    • Viuu, nice to hear from you. Always good to hear from someone who recognizes the mistakes that they have made and now knows whose side they have to be on. So good for you.

      That said, that actually places you in a good position to do your part to help discredit psychiatry should you opt to do so. You might want to consider speaking up. You would not be alone in this for while it is very small, there are nurses doing just that. There is even a radical journal of nursing education. Nor is it too late. As for age, I am 71, very sick, and severely disabled, and am still doing that i can–to speak out against what is happening, to take part in demonstrations, to advise, to write, to strategize, etc,, while at the same time teaching full time and being head of my program. So I would not take 67 as too late if you wanted to have an impact here.

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      • Bonnie: I’m shaken by “Shrink Resistant” (found it in the public library along with “Psychiatry Disrupted”, to be read next). One commentator on this site said “we can’t forget the underground within the system, folks brave enough to stay but work underground to undermine psychiatry”. From the perspective of a (retired) nurse on the psych ward of a large acute care hospital: You can work underground during your shift, but this is only 8 hours of the patient’s 24 hr day. I never felt I was “undermining psychiatry” although I would like to think so.

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        • My own guess? What you did all those years is likely on the “undermine” continuum, though inevitably it would have at the same time have been mixed with “doing the work” of psychiatric regime. Again, my invitation is to write something for you have your own kind of insider knowledge of this horrific system and you have the location from which to speak to nurses.

          I am glad you are enjoying–if that is the word for it–my books. The best book which I have written and will ever write is Psychiatry and the Business of Madness–and you might find it interesting for there is a lengthy discussion of the colonization of nursing, psychology, and social work in it, with these disciplines and their colonization such that they do the work of psychiatry forming one of the chapters.

          All the best.

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          • Actually I have lost touch with my colleagues since I retired. I began my career practicing as taught (neurotransmitter imbalances & the benefit of pills presented as undisputed truth). After a few years I started doing my own research & reading; I gradually changed the way I did my job. An example of one colleague’s response: Her son was diagnosed “schizophrenic”; in ten years he had gone from being admitted to a university physics program at the age of 16 to being obese, diabetic, living on disability & twice attempted suicide. He was on the usual deadly cocktail of antipsychotics/mood stabilizers/benzos. I shared my research with her. She said “no, it’s biological” & walked away, end of discussion. Another example: our ward was quick with prn’s in order to “help the patient maintain control”. I knew that with my patient this would entail calling a code white & forced injection, so I talked to him: “When you pace & shout & rant, it scares people & when people get scared things often don’t end well”. He stopped for a moment, said “OK OK I get what you’re saying” & was quiet the rest of the shift. I was told by another colleague that my nursing decisions were putting the rest of the staff at risk. I was no longer invited to lunches & the annual weekend getaways. I felt better about the way I was treating my patients but, like you say, I was still doing the work of the regime.

            Yes, your book is painful to read. I will get a hold of your latest book; looking forward to the chapter on the colonization of nursing, psychology & SW. I don’t know where I can go with this, having burnt my bridges already. But I’m heartened & excited by your work.

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  18. kyrani99, I don’t remember seeing any of your posts before. Welcome.

    I have skimmed your 5 videos.

    And I agree with your statement, or at least I agree that it appears that way:

    I found that the social injustices which cause distress, alienation and helplessness are due to the exploitation of close relationship by related toxic people, most commonly there may be some in the family, some in friendships and some in the workplace.

    Actually there is one who writes something similar, and she offers many examples of what she calls narcissistic abusers:

    She explains that it is caused by the simple fact that society continues to become more and more informal. So there are not the established hierarchies or roles which would have prescribed interpersonal relations, and so some people take unfair advantage.

    I believe that this is what you are describing.

    I though still believe that there are legally sanctioned structural problems which set up more serious situations. Psychotherapy, Psychiatry, and the Recovery Movement are absolutely predatory, and this must be exposed. And then the middle-class family is unlike anything which has ever before existed, in its degree of social closedness, and the degree to which it depends upon their being children available for exploitation.

    And unless you had this, I don’t believe that Psychotherapy, Psychiatry, or the Recovery Movement would even exist.

    So yes, if your point is that you can’t impose micro level legal controls on human interrelations, then of course I would agree with that.

    But I am calling for legal and political action, to hold parents accountable for clear abuse, even though this is largely after the fact and largely financial. And I am calling for enforcement of existing laws which are supposed to stop doctors for contributing to middle-class family abuses, by forcing them to report. This is the only way to stop them from being bully boys controlled by the parents. This is the intent and letter of the law, even if it is probably not being enforced that way.

    And then I want people to organize and act to discredit this idea that the response to problems is to reform yourself, improve yourself, find religion, go to therapy, go to recovery. Rather, the response to the experience of injustice should be to organize and take legal and political action.

    Most of the distress that people feel does come from what you call the “grass roots” relationships. But I would still say that the cause of this is a compromised social and civil standing. And this will never be corrected in a Recovery Group, Evangelical Church, or Therapist’s Office.

    The work place is important, but I still see it as a voluntary relationship between adults.

    The family is a more serious situation because it is not voluntary, and it involves children.

    So even though these are the grass roots areas of life, they are still always operating within legal structures and established codes of conduct.

    To put it another way, people holding power do what they know they can get away with. Bosses and coworkers do this, and most of all, middle-class parents do it. They know what they can do to children which will not leave any marks.

    And since this thread involves Foucault, that is his main subject, the moving from control by physical violence, to the control by psychological means. He is talking about prisons, but also about mental hospitals. But it applies no less to families.

    As it stands now in the US, emotional or psychological child abuse is illegal, and it is subject to mandatory reporting for doctors and most other people who work with children. But there is still a huge latitude for what that means, though if pressed, the law is always the actual words.

    Problem is that authorities are vastly overloaded with the existing case load, as it now stands.

    So one thing I want is for the US to follow the direction of virtually every other industrialized nation and prohibit people from disinheriting a child. As it stands now, the survivors are kept silent, and the vast majority of the population is living in lies and denial. Changing the inheritance laws would free survivors to speak out.

    Money could still be given to outside parties or distributed unequally, but the power would reside with the heirs instead of the testators.

    And then, Recovery, Therapy, Healing, Self-Improvement, and Getting Saved, are just a continuation of the kinds of abuses which go on with in the middle-class family. And then when we have to deal with people under the sway of such in the work place, it isn’t likely to be very easy.


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    • Hi Nomadic and thanks for welcoming me. I have been here before but it is years ago.

      I agree that there is a lot of action we need to take that is both legal and political and it is necessary. As for disinheriting a child, a law is important but a law won’t stop them. I was essentially disinherited but not directly. My sisters got a power of attorney when my mother got very sick near the end of her life and they stripped her account (about 1-1 1/2 million dollars) so that there was only 60,000 left and that was then distributed evenly as the law required. So I got just under 20,000. I strongly believe that my mother was party to this as well.

      As far as child abuse I have seen two broad categories and one is in real terms abuse but the other is something quite different and more disturbing. The second sort, from what I have seen, is done not simply to abuse a child but to bring out very bad aspects of its nature. I used to think that we are born as clean slates and that life experiences affect us and makes who we are as individuals. But I have now a different opinion.

      I first saw many cases where some children in a family of toxic parent or parents were abused, while others were being aggressively trained in being toxic (or in their words ‘evil’). I then began to realize that this was not arbitrary. Those that had a humane nature were abused because they are hated. An inhumane person hates a humane person, regardless of relationship. Those that are inhumane are treated in ways that brings out the hatred and rage. I have started to appreciate something that I had always known but not really thought about until the last few years.

      What I have come to appreciate is that we are spiritual being embodied in physical forms to have physical experiences. The spiritual beings are all different but fall into two broad categories, those that are benevolent and those that are malevolent. A benevolent being will naturally express their qualities as they go through life. However the malevolent being doesn’t seem to have that ability. Thus they are conditioned or rather their physicality is conditioned in order for their malevolence to be expressed.

      Once their inhumane nature is expressed they are then trained in working as a team with other to abuse those around them. The problem here is that the medical industry, (IMO many doctors are well aware of what is going on), helps toxicity flourish in society for a number of reasons. One is purely for profit. They make money from treating the damage by first labeling it a disease.

      Secondly they discredit those that have a high awareness (probably not so much higher awareness but possibly it is more people who have come to realize that we can mentally perceive suggestions by related others, especially while being threatened). The people maltreated through the abuse of relationship and ideas that are troubling (as opposed to ideas that indicate a problem in the body, which leads to physical disease) are the so-called “mentally ill”. They have made people afraid of these people so as to reject them or refuse to listen to them or dismiss everything they have to say as crazy. And at the same time biomedical and parapsychology scientists are doing experiments badly thus hide the means, i.e., ESP within relationship.

      And thirdly psychiatry is political. It is not really medicine at all. It is about instituting tyranny inside of a democratic state so as to create a clandestine dictatorship and one they have persuaded the people is needed for their safety. Anyone can arbitrarily be “diagnosed” as mentally ill and even a danger to the public. In the DSM5 the boundaries have been widened so that possibly as much as 85% of people could potentially be diagnosed as mentally ill. This is why Dr Frances was talking about saving normal. He is about keeping psychiatry and broadening its scope. While ever we talk about what is normal and don’t appreciate individuality, psychiatry has the means to call everyone mentally ill in the end.

      So we are seeing more and more erosion of freedoms and rights of people to live their lives in community and to reach their fullest potential.
      I have been listening to many of the youtube videos by psychiatrists speaking for the MIA cause but I am very disappointed. They are using arguments that lead back to “we need psychiatry” and “drugs have a place”.

      I agree that some legal and political action is necessary but I want to see the ugly vine of toxicity ripped out with all its roots and destroyed. People who see harming others as a way of life and won’t change, have no place in society.

      So I think that empowering the humane by raising awareness about inhumane people and how they operate and how they can overcome the problems and retain their health, is the royal road. A lot of what we call “madness” is only a person’s terror at ideas, which they have taken to be true and don’t understand. Once they realize the ideas are just hateful suggestions the game is over and the person is freed.

      Raising awareness will deny the toxic people their ability to play power games. And the time is ripe because the same methods are used to cause people to react as to develop physical diseases. So we can get the majority, the 80%, who are humane on board. We only need to show them that it is in their own interests, their own health is at stake.

      Humane people will no longer suffer and will realize their spiritual powers. The inhumane are left to eat one another, which they do anyway, however the whole toxic sub-culture will destroy itself. And that will include a lot of psychiatrists because I would say about three quarters of psychiatrists are either toxic and/or greedy. In the end all toxic people will perish. Psychiatry will become non-existent and even mainstream medicine will significantly downsize. The bubble will burst.

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  19. IMPORTANT: HUFFINGTON has just published a HIT PIECE on this article. I urge people to respond; however it’s the Canadian version & may require FACEBOOK to comment, so those with FB accounts please take heed (though I wouldn’t suggest opening a FB account if you don’t have one). Anyway, check this shit out:


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  20. Of course I do not agree with the Huffington Post. However though I do feel that their article does indicate that there are problems with the idea of “Anti-Psychiatry”, as well as with the idea of creating this kind of a scholarship, or an endowed professorship.

    The term “Anti-Psychiatry” has always been poorly defined, and there have not been that many promoters of it. And today I feel that it is mostly used by those who are part of the problem, by promoting Psychotherapy, Recovery, and Healing, as the alternative to Psychiatry.

    Sometimes Alice Miller is listed as Anti-Psychiatry, even though she did not continuously hold to this. With D. B. Cooper, seemingly the originator, it was never clear where he wanted to go with it.

    I feel that Jeffrey Masson is one of the best, along with Deleuze and Guattari and their phenomenal “Anti-Oedipus”, but this is entirely against psychotherapy. And what they called Oedipalization back in 1972, applies directly to the contemporary American Recovery Movement. And then today with the Warren’s, you have Evangelical Christianity, Recovery, and Mental Health all fusing into one. I would think people would see that as a crisis of the first magnitude.

    If this U-Toronto has a Medical School, and that has Psychiatry and or Psychotherapy, then getting those closed down should be the first order of business.

    As far as Anti-Psychiatry, that is not just the concern of a medical school, it is political. Cooper and D and G certainly have never seen it any other way.

    So I think that trying to take what Foucault exposes about knowledge and power and turn it back on the enemy, has serious liabilities, and it also might separate such an effort from its base of supporters.

    And where ever possible, you want to define yourself by what you are for, rather than what you are against. And I know this is difficult in this arena.

    Basically, Psychiatry and Psychotherapy are about fascism, neuroticism, and death, following from D and G.

    Opposing that you would have some things which are usually poorly understood, like Nietzsche’s Will to Power and D and G’s Desire.

    One problem is that, as Foucault has shown, enslavement and subjectification are already built into the goals of The Enlightenment, like emancipation and liberation.

    But Foucault also wrote in the preface to Anti-Oedipus that it should be considered the “manual of anti-fascist living.”

    Talks about stages of nihilism:

    1. Religious ( this world needs another world to justify it. Recovery Movement is this way. )
    2. Radical ( sometimes the way people like Aleister Crowley are seen )
    3. Completed ( end of a long journey, but I think this is the only real way, and it is how I think you have to understand Foucault. )

    UC Berkeley’s Hubert Dryefus, a Heidegger expert, was the one who had arranged for Foucault to spend 3 or 4 months of each year in Berkeley. He considered Foucault the successor to Heidegger. But Heidegger is offensive, especially to the French, because of his Nazi past. So Foucault only acknowledged him on his death bed.

    Some consider Deleuze to be the first one who is truly post Heideggerian.

    I am inclined to agree with this.

    So if your are comprehensively anti-Psychiatry, like anti-Psychotherapy, and anti-Recovery too, then what are you?

    For some this has meant being Marxist. And actually Foucault and Deleuze and Guattari became post-Marxist because in May 1968 protestors could have brought the French state down, were it not for the fact that the official Communist Party switched sides and backed up the state.

    So all of their works which followed that, like especially Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus should be seen as a kind of alternative to, or re-write of, Marx and Engels. They are cited as Anti-Fascists, more than as Leftists, and certainly more than as Marxists.

    Anyway, I would suggest some sort of political program which fights the entire mental health and recovery system, and also works to redress the societal injustices which land people in recovery and the mental health system. I suggest this, instead of anything titled Anti-Psychiatry, and especially something which is part of a medical school.


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    • The term “Anti-Psychiatry” has always been poorly defined

      False. You must be getting this from Wikipedia. You are primarily articulating your confusion, which is at least a good place to start. None of your references have anything to do with the anti-psychiatry movement, nor did Laing & Cooper’s use of the term have anything to do with the anti-psychiatry movement (nor were they anti-psychiatry themselves). The people to ask for clear definitions are easily locatable via MIA. Do you go to Wikipedia to find out about your own life?

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      • My first sighting of the term Anti-Psychiatry was with Laing and Cooper, and Laing never really went along with it anyway. It became Cooper’s personal moniker, and he did not seem to know where he wanted to go with it.

        Yes, here they list others, but I don’t know that they really subscribed to that specific terminology. And as I see it, the terminology has a great deal to do with what is at issue here.


        But why don’t you enlighten me then, where did the anti-psychiatric movement start, and where is it best defined, and what does it mean?

        More than anything else, when these people were active, they were not living in a society which was filled with Psychologists, who are licensed to do sessions and prescribe drugs. And there was not a huge Recovery Movement dedicated to the proposition of powerlessness, and of passivity in favor of gestures of piety.

        And then today the Evangelical Christian Movement, the Recovery Movement, Mental Health, and just a lightened up Psychotherapy, are all fusing into one. After this Murphy Bill, I cannot think of anything more frightening.

        So usually, as I see it, the problem when someone starts talking about Anti-Psychiatry is that while opposing drugs, electroshock, and forced treatment, they are usually supporting Psychotherapy, Recovery, Healing, and often Religion. MIA, though perhaps not intended to be this way, nevertheless is.

        So if we reject that, what is the alternative? Well it should be political consciousness raising and fighting back. So do we go to the barricades?

        The Paris Commune did not last that long. But the older brother of Gilles Deleuze was arrested for Resistance activities, and shot while being marched to a concentration camp. I believe that this has influenced Gilles’s thinking.

        He calls for the creation of a Nomadic War Machine, and the use of naval hit and run tactics, instead of land tactics.

        Republished from Vol 2 of Capitalism and Schizophrenia, A Thousand Plateaus.

        And then remember that Fanon’s “Wretched of the Earth” was on the short reading list for the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.

        The alternative is to become A Man of Action. If one way does not work, you find some other way. But on no account do you ever let yourself be made into an Uncle Tom, or be made to believe that it is all just about issues inside of your own head.


        PANTHER ( 1995 ) Full Length Movie
        a film by Mario Van Peebles, based on the book by his father Melvin Van Peebles

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        • Nomadic, R.D. Laing should not be confused with D.G. Cooper. T. Szasz does the same thing. There is a difference between a person who claims to be anti-psychiatry, for instance, Cooper, and a person who claims to be psychiatry, such as, Laing, for instance. T. Szasz lumps Laing and Cooper (Basaglia and others) in the same category in the same fashion in which mainstream bio-psychiatry lumps Szasz with Laing and Cooper (Breggin and Whitaker) et al. If Szasz and Laing choose not to refer to themselves as anti-psychiatry (choose to be psychiatry), so be it. Cooper went in a more radical direction. There was a split between Cooper and Laing. Here’s how Stephen Ticklin puts it in Brother Beast:

          He made it clear that he had left England, left the Philadelphia Association, and was no longer collaborating with Laing and Co. The latter, he said, was on a spiritual trip. He, David, was on a political one.


          I feel a certain debt of gratitude to Cooper for coming up with a word that says it for so many of us. I think we are part of his legacy, and I think he was headed in a direction that was much closer to abolition than some would give him credit for.

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          • It is important to note that David Cooper co-authored a book with R. D. Laing on the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre, Reason and Violence. Jean-Paul Sartre was encouraging a politically engaged intelligentsia and literature. He spent his later years seeking, if failing at it, a hybrid between existentialism and Marxism.

            Indeed, during the late sixties, while Sartre’s Marxism was intensifying, Laing’s was rapidly evaporating.


            Laing in The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise uses the expression experiential so much that I like to refer to his thought therein as experientialism. He was one to equate madness, in some instances, with religious experience. He was also on somewhat friendly terms with parapsychology. Mysticism, as you probably must know, has always had a certain appeal to the far right.

            Laing had his feet in two camps at the same time, the Kingsley Hall type experiment, and the oppression of mainstream bio-psychiatry (despite his differences with it). Talk about love hate relationships, Laing could wax melodramatic about psychiatric power, but he wasn’t quite willing to relinquish such power himself. Cooper, on the other hand, went with the revolution, and when he went with the revolution, he went with the revolution against psychiatric oppression.

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          • Thing is, Nomadic, psychiatry is seen as a branch of medicine, however, despite multiple theories, no “mental illness” has ever been shown to exist as a discrete “disease” entity. The notion that “mental illnesses” are “biological” supports psychiatry in its medical pretensions. The notion that they are psychological or social does not support such pretensions, nor interventions. If, then, “mental illness” so-called is social or psychological, there is no reason to call in a medical doctor, throwing the entire profession of psychiatry into question. Prove it is bogus, and those medical school degrees mean even less than they do today. The issue then becomes should we be licensing medical doctors to take care of issues that are in no way medical. If not, psychiatry the profession becomes redundant. Anti-psychiatry, opposed to that branch of medicine by definition, would get rid of that profession.

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          • The notion that “mental illnesses” are “biological” supports psychiatry in its medical pretensions.

            It’s sort of a cunning escalation of psychiatry’s original semantic obfuscation — i.e. the very concept of “mental illness” as anything but a metaphoric explanation for inexplicable and unwanted behavior — to have people arguing about “its” cause. In other words, to entertain arguments about what causes “it” is, at least on one level, to accept the falsehood that there is any such animal to begin with. (Just an observation.)

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  21. System and Pharmacy will survive Psychiatry down fall-if ever happened

    Psychiatry is excluded from medecine and from Mental Health system.
    Also no-longer exist as profession.This is clean victory for anti-psychiatry
    movement.Okay.Please don’t be stupid with beliefs,that no-one from
    other fields of medecine,can’t replaced psychiatrist role inside Mental
    Institutions.Also psychologists or psychotherapeuts can fit their role.
    Psychologists can’t scribe meds.So far.Also neurologists can be employed
    in Mental Institutions.Only eliminating psychiatry,won’t change this
    insane system.Psychotropic meds will outlive psychiatry down fall.
    Fight for human rights will start only,when Mental Health system,
    fictional mentality and mental illness are all dead and trash of history.

    Mental Health system=rebellion against biology and evolution.Started
    by both psychologists and psychiatrists.And victims of this rebellion.Only
    my crazy kind.

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  22. Oldhead, thank you for alerting me to that information.

    I find Mind Freedom intolerable because they encourage Psychotherapy as an ethical treatment, and in general support the concept of Recovery. While I would never attempt to outlaw Psychotherapy between consenting adults, I do still consider it to be predatory abuse, meaning a type of abuse which is targeted to those already vulnerable. So I could never in anyway even pretend to endorse them. And then on top of that, making joke out of mental illness, and using the concept of non-violence as a way to ask for pity, while our economy comes ever more to depend on social Darwinism and eugenics, and while our growing evangelical movement comes ever more to define itself by child abuse, I just will not tolerate.

    But as far as these 1982 Principles, and given that they contain none of the above problems, I support them fully, and I wish MIA was actually about that, instead of Therapy, Recovery, and Healing.

    about CAPA

    Thank you for letting me know about this. It is far less offensive than Mind Freedom, or so much of what is on MIA. But I still don’t see people standing up for themselves. I mean it is one thing to say that there is injustice. It is another to try and engage with it and do something about it. So where I live the place to protest should be in front of the County Hospital. But people should also be filing lawsuits. Even if efforts to outlaw forced treatment have not yet been effective, you still should be able to file lawsuits on a case by case basis, just as people in the US use every legal means available to block implementation of the death penalty.

    And then I am still seeing very little evidence of understanding that what the mental health hoax is really about is simply failure to comply with the expectations of the middle-class family. No recognition of the fact that in the vast majority of cases, the mental health concept, along with therapy, recovery, and healing, are simply continuations of the types of child abuse and exploitation which the middle-class family is based on. And then again, one thing to claim to see the problem, and yet another to be someone who is actually engaging with it and trying to do something about it.

    So Bonnie’s article is extremely well written and I agree with the vast majority of it.

    But I Oldhead I also still stand on my original position, the Anti-Psychiatry is not well defined. And no I did not read this on Wikipedia. I have not read it anywhere, because those claiming to support Anti-Psychiatry do not seem to understand the problem.

    Anti-Psychiatry is not well defined because too many of the proponents are still endorsing or advertising for Psychotherapy, Recovery, and Healing, in the face of abuse and injustice. Too many of the proponents are actively campaigning to conceal familial child abuse. And too many of the proponents seem to support the middle-class family, because they support its defining doctrine, the Self-Reliance Ethic.

    Consider, if these FixMyKid Doctors had to comply with the letter and spirit of the 1974 Child Abuse and Neglect Act, reauthorized in 2010, they would either be out of business or they’d be in prison.

    •”Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation”

    Mandatory Reporting


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    • But I Oldhead I also still stand on my original position, the Anti-Psychiatry is not well defined.

      We could do better. But I question whether some of the people you refer to as basically sellouts have actually described themselves as anti-psychiatry. Further, people who seek out counseling for help with their problems in living do not automatically absorb medical model self-definitions. As for “recovery,” one can speaking of “recovering” from a bad experience without internalizing disease concepts, just like a baseball team can “recover” from a string of defeats. The problem isn’t with using figures of speech, it’s with taking them literally.

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    • You’re over extending yourself, Nomadic. Anti-psychiatry is not anti-recovery, anti-psychotherapy, and anti-healing. Nor is it anti-middle-class-family. Nor is it anti-self-reliance-ethic. Let’s take one definition at a time, and go from there.

      Psychiatry is, according to Google, “the study and treatment of mental illness, emotional disturbance, and abnormal behavior”. Not the best definition, perhaps, but then you get the gist. We could try other dictionaries if that one isn’t serviceable enough. Anti-psychiatry then would be against “the study and treatment of mental illness, emotional disturbance, and abnormal behavior.” Simply put, anti-psychiatry is opposed to the psychiatry profession.

      For anti-recovery, anti-psychotherapy, anti-healing, anti-middle-class-family, and anti-self-reliance ethic you’re going to have to look elsewhere.

      I know some people have gotten so far as anti-psychotherapy, but the subject isn’t completely covered by anti-psychiatry. Psychologists can do psychotherapy now, after a fashion, and they don’t have medical school educations. I’ve seen a Wikipedia anti-psychology page, but, really, one anti at a time, thank you.

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        • I agree, Nathan. Psychotherapy, if it upholds the disease/defective brain model, even when practiced as taught, is abusive by default. This may be my opinion only, but if we are to endorse peer support or Soteria models, then I think we also need to endorse models that might be called “help” but are totally outside the box. Coaching never uses diagnosis (it’s not taught nor supported) and there are many other models that use professionals that help people.

          Some social workers don’t do therapy nor labeling. They help people find jobs and housing, and help people get out of prison and stay out.

          We cannot discount psychiatrists who are devoted to getting people off meds and getting people OUT of the system, who reject the disease model totally, regardless of original training/brainwashing.

          However, if some of these models induce a new dependency, either emotional or financial, then it’s slavery all over again, right?

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          • Agreed, Julie. Anything that uses diagnoses for things that are not diseases, anything that nurtures dependence, anything that increases hierarchy, anything by which others are experts on who a person is and/or should be is inherently unacceptable. As for psychiatrists who totally reject the medical model, yes they exist, and Breggin is an excellent example. At the same time, the majority of them, while often wonderful allies are critical psychiatry, not antipsychiatry, and so will only help us so far in the route that we need to tread, the changes that we need to effect. Their limitation is this regard is that they are into reformism –which as I have written elsewhere is not only not good enough but can be downright counterproductive.

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          • Psychotherapy, if it upholds the disease/defective brain model, even when practiced as taught, is abusive by default.

            It’s a problematic term because so many different, even competing and conflicting practices fall under its umbrella. And it implies disability even if this is not the personal perspective of every practitioner. And it reflects at some level the subjective values of the individual “therapist,” for better or worse.

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        • Nathan: Here is my sense of the antipsychiatry activist world re the matter you raised. I have been a very active member since 1980, have worked with activists throughout the world and feel I have a reasonably broad take on the community. What unites us all is antipsychiatry –that is, psychiatry abolition. We differ on other issues. This notwithstanding, besides that I agree with you that a critique of the related areas is absolutely necessary, I have seldom come across an antipsychiatry activist who does not have a critique of psychotherapy, psychology, social work etc. For the reality is, a good part of these are highly compromised and oppressive –and as such, something we do well to be concerned over. The difference is they have a critique–and they operate on it, but they are not calling for abolition of these whereas they are calling for the total abolition of psychiatry. Getting rid of psychiatry, getting rid of compulsory treatment, and getting rid of the “mental health” system as we know it, this is the focus, the point of agreement, and the bottom line. Now some of us (myself included) go further and want to get rid of the state per se, for we see the state as something that will inevitably erode community and create problems for individuals, as well as disempower them –and indeed I see principled anarchism as having a logical relationship to antipsychiatry. At the same time I recognize that this is not something on which antipsychiatry activists are likely to agree, and so I only stress such concepts in my own writing.

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          • I’m against state and institutional ownership of people’s bodies. I’m against reliance on the State to choose for us, instead of our taking responsibility making our own choices.

            In short, I’m against force of all kinds.

            In USA much of our history has been about individual or local rights vs the larger-based law such as Federal law. At one point slave owners in the South were claiming their rights to rule locally and own slaves, but Federal law prevailed.

            What happens when local laws are inhumane or unfair? Similarly, what happens when a child is abused? Who steps in to protect that child?

            I would like to see more like tribal communities set up, smaller groups where there’s a real sense of personal caring and commitment, rather than the larger government passing out “handouts” you’re supposed to “qualify” for. Maybe government has just gotten too large, too many people, too much money, too much reliance on these supposed “experts” with MD after their name, that are now held up on pedestals, representing medical corporate rule.

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          • Sometimes I think those that are actually abolitionists might not use that precise word, but their underlying message is certainly that the system needs to be knocked down, and something entirely different take shape in society.

            I hear the word “change,” but I think really the difference is in the amount of change. At worst, many are calling for more services, more of the same, and for getting more people sucked into it. For sure that’s not the change I want to see! Others may say the System cannot exist as it is now. When I hear the word “genocide” I figure we’re on the same page.

            I want to ask, Is it okay to be an idealist of sorts, hoping for such a radical change? How can such a change happen unless it’s after most of us are dead? Should we not back down, insisting that this ideal happen? Some claim that if our demands are too great, we won’t get anywhere. But is that true?

            I believe MLK, if he were advising us, would have said not to compromise, nor offer to back down at all, that we should stand our ground.

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          • I completely agree. You can’t really attack psychiatry without attacking all these combined disciplines. They are all connected. An investment in one is an investment in the others. An investment in the destruction of one is an investment in the destruction of all of them.

            Don’t get me wrong either. When I say destruction I’m being very positive. If psychiatry is all about harming, controlling, betraying, and killing people. Ending this harm, control, betrayal, and killing is not a negative thing. Psychiatry since the dawn of the enlightenment has been a matter of coercion. End the coercion, the deprivation of liberty, and you’d be doing everybody a favor.

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  23. Frank, Thank you for speaking up about the differences between Cooper and Laing. I believe that I was aware of this and that I was not conflating them. Yes, I know that there were differences between them and that they finally split up, and that Laing never actually went along with the term Anti-Psychiatrist.

    There are many books about R. D. Laing, but two that I have found outstanding are those of Daniel Burston:



    And then I know about Laing and Cooper’s Reason and Violence, though I have not read it. And I know about Sartre and trying to fuse Existentialism and Marxism, and his Critique of Dialectical Reason. And Deleuze and Guattari pay a proper homage to this. And they and Franz Fanon I would say are in similar places with Reason and Violence. My own view is that Reason and Violence can never be separated, or as Maturana and Varela say, “All knowing is doing and all doing is knowing.” And so I do not accept doctrines which are built on any unlimited commitment to non-violence as a way of life. And this is the real objection to Martin Luther King, that he was misunderstanding Gandhi. And Christianity is based on a misunderstanding the Gospel Jesus. And I will have nothing whatsoever to do with MindFreedom.


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  24. I want to talk more about this list of 1982 principles:

    Principles adopted by 1982 gathering of psychiatric survivors:

    First of all I am very impressed with this list because they have thought through the ramifications, in that the traditional justification for forced procedures has always been suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts, presumed danger to self or others, and not being competent to stand criminal trial. This group has considered all of these, and it has rejected all of them, and it wants an unequivocal ban on all forced procedures, and it gives extremely good reasons.

    But why is it not like this on Mad In America, why are people writing letters of appeasement to the Boston Globe, and trying to evoke pity?

    Why are people advocating and even advertising psychotherapy, which while not forced, has nothing whatsoever to do with advancing these 1982 Principles?

    12. We oppose the psychiatric system because it feeds on the poor and powerless, the elderly, women, children, sexual minorities, people of colour and ethnic groups.

    Okay, well here on Mad In America we have people posting of whom I find it undeniable that they have been kicked in the teeth and stepped on their entire lives, and that was before they were thrown into the psychiatric system and drugged and told by Psychotherapists that it is they themselves who are the problem. And so are they being offered any way of understanding why our society works that way, and of what has been taken from them and of how we are organizing to fight back? Not as far as I can see. All I am hearing about is how people believe in and offer Therapy, Recovery, and Healing.

    Second, I think about how far back 1982 was, and how much different the world was back then. The Happy Pills and the Fix My Kid Doctors were only starting to emerge. And the Recovery Movement had not yet started to merge with a broader appeal version of the Born Again Christian Movement.

    So we have forced commitments and we have forced druggings, but how do these numbers compare with the voluntary commitments, the voluntary talk therapies and pillow punching therapies, and the voluntary and the court ordered 12-steps of powerlessness, and the voluntary druggings? And unless we address these issues, I feel that Anti-Psychiatry will remain a 1982 movement.

    And so we know that it does feed on the poor and the powerless, and that this does mean children, and it also means the adult survivors of the middle-class family.

    I say that with children you must consider any and all procedures as forced. So if they are ever to be done, at a minimum there has to be someone looking out for the interests of the child, and this would have to be the Juvenile Dependency Court, as no one else has authority over the parents.

    But we have here on MIA authors who would make the subversion of child protection laws into a political cause. And we have MIA author / therapists who advertise a FixMyKid service and clearly communicate their complete disregard for mandatory reporting in suspected cases of child abuse.

    And then on top of that we seem to have people who think that the dissociation and destruction of memory caused by prescription psych meds and street drugs are desirable, and speak of it as “healing”.

    So these are only some of the reasons that I now reiterate my statement that, Anti-Psychiatry is poorly defined. And no I did not read this on Wikipedia. I have not read it anywhere, because those operating under the banner of Anti-Psychiatry have yet to show any evidence that they even understand the problem. And the time period in which I began to feel this would be more like by the mid-90’s, when these changes I have alluded to were unfolding, and there was zero response to them.

    Though I would say now that one of the brightest stars is still Jeffrey Masson, yet the Anti-Psychiatry Movement does not seem to even acknowledge him.

    As it is today, where I live, vast numbers of the poor, marginalized, and survivors of the middle-class family are managed by our county mental health system, working in direct and open conjunction with evangelical churches which promote “Recovery”.

    Our county mental health director brings her people to attend an all weekend long conference put on by an evangelical outreach church, and our director concludes the conference by saying, “Recovery is integral to our approach to mental health.”

    And no one at all is challenging the propriety of any of this, and I have seen first hand that the vast majority of the evangelical churches are organized around severe emotional child abuse, and I have listened to such parents talk about how their grown children need to be in a psychiatric hospital so that they will “get the help they need”.

    And then as we sit and debate online, the situation continues to worsen, as no alternative views are being offered, and those Anti-Murphy Bill letters to the Boston Globe, in my view, only made the situation worse.

    And then:

    There is only so much any of us can do alone, as we will get branded as psychopathic. If we could organize, now that would be different. But the main problem with all of the things I have indicated is that they make it very hard for people to organize because they destroy political consciousness and make people believe in some adapted version of Original Sin.


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    • Sounds like you’re feeling overwhelmed.

      For some context, first, I guess I’m not too humble to say that I’m sort of proud that I (along with many others) participated in the creation of the 1982 Principles, back when the anti-psychiatry movement was a real thing rather than a feeling (though the currently strengthening anti-psychiatry feeling will hopefully soon manifest again as an actual movement). The principles as I recall were drafted during I think three separate sessions, with lots of debate in the process and a unified consensus at the end. This was well before MindFreedom emerged in the 90’s, and well before the critique of psychiatry was a glint in Bob Whitaker’s eye. 🙂

      Unfortunately the Principles were among our last momentous accomplishments before the “mental health” establishment started throwing money and status at hand-picked (and compliant) “mental patient leaders” who jumped at the opportunity to sell out the movement. The 1985 Vermont conference was our last hurrah as the rush to relabel psychiatric inmates as “mental health consumers” began. And for all practical purposes we are still waiting to be reborn.

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      • Nice to hear someone referring to the 1982 principles, Oldhead. Those of us in Toronto, where as you know, the conference was hosted, have always been proud of these 1982 principles and antipsychiatry folk in Toronto continue to live by them. That said, while Toronto is an oasis and has continued to sport one of the few truly antipsychiatry groups around, our ability to grow has been greatly impeded. And while there are many reasons for this,yes, one is precisely the co-optation of survivors etc. by the government and also by reformist professionals who do not understand liberation or liberation movements. Also, in the 80s we had the interest of the media (I will never forget the extensive and for the most part positive coverage which they gave us when Don Weitz, Shirley Johnson and I (as reps of Coalition Against Electroshock) staged a three day sit-in in the Minister of Health’s office –but the media has now almost totally bought the biological story line, the myth of the dangerous “mental patient” and except in isolated cases has little regard for the rampant denial of human rights. In this regard,psychiatry has successfully sold the public on its message. So successful have they been, that the legal route is not what we would have hoped, for judges continue to be intransigent and so when there are legal challenges, we almost always lose.

        I see little shift in the media, or in the judiciary. Where I am seeing shifts right now, however, is with survivors themselves and in academia. Survivors for decades avoided antipsychiatry like the plague, going rather with a “reformist” bent and now by contrast, what we see is more and more survivors once again actually interested in antipsychiatry. We are also in different ways seeing legitimation of the area in academia–hence the scholarship, hence my invitation to use academia in the fight against psychiatry.

        So I have to say that I am once again having hope.

        As for MindFreedom, please note that MindFreedom is not and has never claimed to be antipsychiatry. Nor does Mad in America. It is into reform of the system, while antipsychiatry folk are clear that the system has to be bit by bit dismantled.

        That said, I am grateful for allies even when they are not antipscyhiatry. And I have no interest in fighting with them, only for being aware of when we can and where we cannot work together.

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        • Oldhead you mentioned a conference in Vermont. I lived in Southwestern Vermont for nine years mostly because I attended Bennington College. I knew a few folks in VT back then whom you may know as well, only I don’t see them around. There was a couple, man and woman, whom I knew who seemed to be leaders. At the time I was brainwashed, so I had no clue. It was my dad who introduced me to this couple. They had phone conferences and although I never met them I spoke with both of them on the phone regularly. I wonder what they thought of their brainwashee in the southern part of the state. I hesitate to mention names. You must know them but I do not see them around.

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          • I’m referring to the 1985 International Conference On Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression, our last non-coopted conference, at least to date. First names after all this time are probably ok & I’m guessing the guy you mention may have been named Paul. At any rate, the 1985 conference as I mentioned was the final hurrah for the anti-psychiatry movement, phase one.

            To be continued, hopefully. I know there is a renewed interest in those principles, as has been noted in the anti-psychiatry forum.

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        • “As for MindFreedom, please note that MindFreedom is not and has never claimed to be antipsychiatry. Nor does Mad in America. It is into reform of the system, while antipsychiatry folk are clear that the system has to be bit by bit dismantled.”

          Thank you for being explicit about this, Bonnie. I’ve been trying to figure this out ever since I discovered this community five years ago. Now I get it.

          Although this statement confuses me–

          “That said, I am grateful for allies even when they are not antipscyhiatry. And I have no interest in fighting with them, only for being aware of when we can and where we cannot work together.”

          If one part of the team wants unambiguously and adamantly to abolish psychiatry while another part of the team is more interested in reforming it–and, I would add, implicit in this is the insistence to keep the system up and running, one way or another–then how is this an alliance?

          And furthermore, how could one possibly avoid power struggle, conflict, and deep division at one point or another? Those are two completely antithetical goals, and each side is quite passionate about their intention.

          Work together toward what? The only thing I can see with the potential to work cohesively here is agreeing to disagree, but that doesn’t spawn change and evolution, but rather it keeps the dualistic, split, and power- and rival-oriented status quo.

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          • Alex, obviously on anything that keeps the systems running, we would not be allies. We are not wanting to “improve” the system after all, but get rid of it. Where can we often ally with folk who are not antipsychiatry? By doing things together that they also want that fall within the parameters of the attrition model of abolition (see my on this in Psychiatry Disrupted). What the attrition model does is to call on antipsychiatry activists to only support reform that moves in the direction of psychiatry abolition. A concrete example, we can ally with groups that want to get rid of non-voluntary treatment, including those folk that are not remotely antipsychiatry. Why? Because albeit it is not sufficient, willynilly, it moves society in the direction of psychiatry abolition. By the same token and for the same reasons, we can ally with people who are not antipsychiatry who want to get rid of electroshock. In my chapter I go through a bunch of examples of how this can of reasoning can be used and has been used to decide what to support and what not support, what to ally over and what not.

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          • I think there are places where we come together when it comes to protecting people from psychiatric harm, Alex. I think we’ve got things we can agree on. Protecting people from the system, rather than throwing them under the train, so-to-speak, is something we can do together. Most of us here at MIA agree about the problems pertaining to psych-drugs, and that’s something we share an interest in working on. We also have a mutual stake in protecting people from coercive practices. We don’t want to see people harmed by psychiatry. Do you? The system I’ve seen is all drug, drug, drug. I just have an equally big issue with people expanding that system while claiming to be interested in people’s health. More and more “mental patients” is not my idea of any kind of health. With the best of intentions, you’ve got all sorts of mental health workers, and now peer support specialists, increasing the numbers of people with psychiatric labels. Complain about that, and someone in the system is going to cry “stigma”. “Stigma” is making “disease” trendy don’t you think? I’d rather see more people accept responsibility for their own actions instead. I think the system began with throw away people being tossed to the loony bin. Get rid of the bin, and you get rid of the idea of throw away people with it.

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          • “…obviously on anything that keeps the systems running, we would not be allies. We are not wanting to “improve” the system after all, but get rid of it.”

            I agree with this, of course, although as far as “what is keeping the systems running,” that would be open to interpretation and merit discussion. Given that it’s held up by smoke & mirrors, at least to my mind, it is, what exactly is keeping it running vs. what we think is keeping it running and what we think is challenging it with integrity, truthfully would be tricky to discern. These are all layers upon layers of illusion, so much programming and filters.

            After all, we’re talking about long-running corruption, so we’d have to dig deep to see what is really and truly keeping it running, beyond and beneath what most of us could list off-the-cuff by now. There is a lot still behind the curtain to come to light, I believe, things that could still surprise us. Life in transitions has all sorts of unexpected plot twists which often enlighten to as to why things have appeared stuck. That would cause a shift in the collective perspective, game changer.

            As far as how self-identify, I am in the “get rid of it altogether” camp. Some say that is questionable, because I do make my focus healing. But I believe the system is not redeemable at this point, it just keeps proving that over and over again. If it were to awaken to itself, it would disappear instantly, because it would see itself as the illusion it really is, all of that reality created from “DSM” et al. It is not real! It is a totally delusion-based constructed reality. I think the trick is to not conform to it. By doing so, you validate their reality, and that’s exactly what we DON’T want.

            To me, healing is change. Going from sick (as in “sick society”) to well (as in balanced harmonious parts-working-together-justly and-fairly) is healing and desired change. Of course, what constitutes “just and fair” would be a lively discussion to expect sooner than later, I imagine, and it would spawn all sorts of issues to explore on a new level.

            I also believe that everyone has things to heal from right now, that is universal. It is not just one person’s awakening, it is everyone’s. We’ve ALL been a victim of at least one thing or another, betrayed by society, and totally duped in so many ways. It is not one, but all. I think how different people respond to this and how they interpret and think about this, would create different cultures and realities. Not all would see it the same way, different parts of a greater whole.

            “Where can we often ally with folk who are not antipsychiatry?”

            My connector would be to people who are seriously working toward world peace starting with finding inner peace. To me, that’s the most efficient path to desired change. That would be everyone taking their part equally in the collective responsibility to bring change. It’s all I’ve ever had in mind—and, most especially, after the experience I had going through all of this hook, line, and sinker, that’s the only journey I’m interested in taking, however it unfolds.

            Life is unpredictable, but when we know our goal with clarity, through and through, it all fits together, so we brave the unknown, breaking new ground along the way. And, perhaps, hopefully, choosing a bit more wisely this time about what to create there, based on all that we learned from this crazy mad world we’ve created, somehow. I kind of believe it is self-destructing at this point, lots of mirrors have been held up they can no longer avoid. Let’s see what happens…

            People can call themselves whatever they like, and identify however they feel most comfortable in their own skin, but that’s the bottom line for me.

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          • I don’t make it my responsibility to protect people, Frank, unless they are my kids. People, adults, have to learn to protect themselves.

            You say, “I’d rather see more people accept responsibility for their own actions instead.” Yes, me too, and I’d also like to see take responsibility for their own lives, rather than to be dependent on another person, constantly, for validation, perspective, and protection.

            At some point, we have to take over those reigns ourselves, and I think the entire mental health world would object to that. The idea there is to not think independently, but exactly like your therapist (or supervisor, or professor, etc, or whomever in authority thinks they get it and no one else does). Then, you will win their approval, and congratulations, you’re hooked for life. That’s how I see it working, and yes, I think it’s terribly harmful in so many ways.

            What I do take responsibility for is working to educate people, based on all that I’ve learned, and also being open to hearing other perspectives, to understand from where that person is coming. I also always have an intention to walk my talk and be an example of whatever it is I’m talking about. It’s all a process. Life changes from day to day so I let myself grow right along with it.

            “’Stigma’ is making ‘disease’ trendy don’t you think?”

            Only in the mental health world, which is a reality unto itself, a very tiny box of a world, with no windows, dense air, hard to breathe. I live and work outside of that, and people get it. I work with partners, who have never had anything to do with any of this, other than what they witness from my life, and they get it, with total clarity.

            This illusion of “mental illness” is based exactly on stigma, that’s all it is. I use stigma the way I’ve always used it, before it was co-opted. You can say negative projections, society scapegoat, demeaning mythology, marginalizing beliefs, snobbery—all of that is what I mean by this word. Regardless of what you call it, to me, that is the root cause of what we are calling “mental illness,” that thing we hate.

            If there is anything else going on with a person, that can be addressed in some other way, specific to whatever is going on, without all of this bullshit, cuz that’s all it is, pure made-up bullshit.

            But once you call it “mental illness” you are automatically talking about “stigma,” as I define it above. I think they are the exact same thing, because it is defined by how people are treated, socially, and this impacts our well-being more than anything, I think, because it is, literally, dehumanizing, pure and simple.

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          • I’ll be bold enough to chime in here to agree with Alex about these inherent contradictions and ambiguities. Marx said that contradiction drives progress, and this seems to be a classic dialectic we’re engaged in, one which continues to evolve.

            My take on MindFreedom is that it was David Oaks’ desperate, though admirable, attempt to hold together the remnants of the true movement in the wake of the devastating blow suffered at the hands of system-funded opportunists bent on its destruction, who expropriated much of our language while redefining psychiatric inmates and survivors as “consumers of psychiatric services.” MindFreedom seemed be a way of sort of treading water while waiting for the movement to be saved by a passing ship or something. It seems to have been successful in that function, though in the process of “allying” with supportive mh professionals , etc. much if not all of the movement’s anti-psychiatry analysis, which is what made it a real movement, was lost. At the moment a big raft seems to be drifting through the waters and collecting random survivors not only of psychiatry per se but of this reformist brainwashing. Now we have to resurrect our analysis and reconnect with the wider movement against capitalism and imperialism. They need us as much as we need them.

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  25. Oldhead, no, most of the people I’ve spoken of are not really Anti-Psychiatry, or at least I don’t think they are. But that’s because the movement is not well defined, so most people don’t really even know if they are anti-psychiatry or not.

    And one might indeed recover from a bad experience. But this is not how the term Recovery is used. When you live in a world of complete injustice, you don’t recover from that. What you might try to do is find comrades and organize, and fight back, and find some way to at least mitigate the circumstances. But no you don’t “recover”. Remember, the whole problem, every where you go, is that everyone is trying to make it like you yourself are the problem, simply because you won’t accept that things are as they are. And I say also that what it really comes down to is that you are for some reason not complying with the standards and expectations of the middle-class family. Matthen Warren, worked on by Psychotherapists, Psychiatrists, and Prayer Warriors for his entire life, until at the age of 27 he took his own life.

    And then sometimes Recovery is not overtly tied to the medical model, but it is still tied to a self-improvement and moral rehabilitation model. It means measuring up to the expectations of the middle-class family, specifically the self-reliance ethic.

    I go with David Smail, saying that there is no moral or mental improvement that we need. Psychological distress is caused by living without power, without social legitimacy.

    Nothing like “Recovery” is ever going to remedy this. The concept is merely a whitewashed religious approach to saying that one needs to Get Saved.

    Julie wrote, “Psychotherapy, if it upholds the disease/defective brain model, even when practiced as taught, is abusive by default. This may be my opinion only, but if we are to endorse peer support or Soteria models, then I think we also need to endorse models that might be called “help” but are totally outside the box. ”

    I agree Psychotherpy is by default abusive.

    Now, she goes on to talk about Soteria, Coaching, and Social Workers, and not using a disease or medical model. And you Oldhead are saying that people don’t automatically absorb the medical model when they go for Psychotherapy.

    Well, Foucault’s work on the subject started with showing, whether it is explicitly laid out or not, that the entire Mental Health system is rooted in the idea of sin and salvation.

    And so then today, whether or not it is explicitly laid out, if you deal with a Life Coach or a Social worker, they are still fucking with your head, talking whatever information you are foolish enough to give them, and making it like you have some need for improvement. They may pitch it medically, or as salvation status, or probably just as being for your own good. They are still taking the position that you are someone who is in need of remedial instruction. They are still saying that your parents didn’t make you learn, that you are not measuring up to the self-reliance ethic.

    And what lets them do this is imply the fact that you have disclosed personal information to them, instead of just telling them where to stick it. It’s either that, or its because they hold some sort of administrative power and they have been told to put petitioners through some sort of ritual humiliations, and so you have to play along with them.

    And I know that this is how it would be with Bonnie’s emotional healers, in her dystopia.


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  26. Frank wrote,

    “You’re over extending yourself, Nomadic. Anti-psychiatry is not anti-recovery, anti-psychotherapy, and anti-healing. Nor is it anti-middle-class-family. Nor is it anti-self-reliance-ethic. Let’s take one definition at a time, and go from there.”

    Yes Frank, that is my point. Anti-Psychiatry does not go far enough. For one thing it is not at all well defined. I know that it does not extend into the areas you speak of, and we are using a 1982 definition.


    For the issues, as they looked in 1982, I feel that this definition was very good, better than what I had expected, because they take apart most of the justifications for forced treatment.

    But today the situation is very different:

    1. Such a high portion of the “procedures” are directed at children, and this is only going to be increasing.


    And I say that all such procedures against children should be considered as forced, and that as there are clearly already family conflicts, the parents have to be considered disqualified as any type of arbiters of what is best for the child.

    2. Most drug ingestion and DSM diagnosings are voluntary. So while not coercive, I still feel that it has to be treated as a public health problem, just like you would if the number of heroin addicts was doubling. And then with the forced procedures, I believe that underlying most of these is some history of voluntary procedures.

    3. Recovery and Therapy may be things which adults are voluntarily going along with, and between consenting adults I would not ever try to outlaw them. But we also have to understand that almost no one would ever go along with this unless they had been led to believe in a personal moral defect, and this almost always is going to come from the Middle-Class Family and it is the basis of the Self-Reliance Ethic, and it undermines our democracy and our economy, as well as just our health and well being. So at a minimum we should be offering alternatives.

    I say also that we should not be allowing our government to issue licenses to psychotherapists.

    If there where a huge increase in the number of people seeing fortune tellers or phrenologists, maybe there would not be anything which should be done about it. But if the government were issuing licenses, and if these were making it harder for people to sue for recompense, and then if this was making it harder for children to sue for recompense, because of the licensing, then something would be wrong. Licensing requirements are supposed to be protecting the unwary public. But licensing psychotherapists is protecting con artists and exploiters from being held accountable for their actions, and it is saying that parents can employ these people to subdue their children, with no fear of redress.

    And along these same lines I must say that I don’t think it is ever going to work out to teach Anti-Psychiatry in U Toronto’s Medical School. Either it won’t happen, or what does happen will be so compromised that it is part of the problem instead of part of the solution. Anti-Psychiatry has to be broadened, and it has to operate on the outside of the power structures and technologies of power to which it is opposed.

    Clergy Spiritual Counseling, while I probably would not agree with most of the things they say, the degree of the damage is still limited because they are not being issued licenses.

    Nathan, I don’t remember seeing you before. Welcome. You wrote,

    “I think anti-psychiatry is actually weak when NOT inclusive of a critique of professional mental healthcare – including psychotherapy, psychology, social work, alternatie healers etc.”

    I agree 100%


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  27. Julie and Bonnie, you both speak about community. I also feel that this is where our efforts should be focused. And I am pursuing my own plans here too.

    But I would like to call people’s attention to just a few things.

    First we can find active communes right here. I’ve watched this for decades now.

    But most communes seem not to last much longer than the life of the founder.

    And it is one thing to just talk about community, as some sort of a transcendent virtue, and another to actually have a community.

    The ones which have lasted are religious celibate communities. And these, you could say, usually operate by taking money off of the general population, a sort of a con game really.

    There had been in England and the Netherlands the Brotherhood of the Common Life, and this was not based on celibacy. It clearly influenced Thomas More, author of Utopia.

    And then there have been in the US, Oneida, and LDS. And both of these, to a degree changed the rules about sex. When you are able to do this, you usually both become rich, and also incur a great deal of enmity. Even a modest degree of economic communalism yields huge advantages. This will always be resented. And then if it is known that it is the result of sexual changes, then it will be much worse than just enmity.

    So it does seem like the rules of money and the rules of sex are always inseparably intertwined.

    And then there was Rajnesh / Osho. I met some of his people in the earl 80’s, and I was not very impressed with them. But in the decades since I have read many many books about the movement. I am convinced that if it worked at all, it was when they were back in Puna India.

    It is interesting because their group was anything but celibate.

    Anyway, I ask people to look now at just how much the ideas about mental health and moral or proper behavior are related to Capitalism and the Middle-Class Family, and to such an extent that you really can’t look at psychiatry or psychotherapy, or the idea of recovery either, without first understanding this broader set of norms from which it all emerges.

    If you want there to be community, and that being more than just an abstract idea, I feel that you do have to find ways to change the rules about money, property, and sex. It takes time to do this. But you also have to get people to the point where instead of just tuning out or practicing Live and Let Live, they actually want to start fighting back.

    Psychotherapy, Psychiatry, and Recovery suppress political consciousness, and this is why they exist. They make it just about impossible to politically organize.


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  28. Oldhead, if you helped in the drafting of these 1982 principles, that is something you have every right to be proud of.

    Principles adopted by 1982 gathering of psychiatric survivors:

    And if this was coming out of Vermont, that is also interesting.

    Frank, if your main concern is to eliminate forced psychiatric procedures, then although I also want other things, I am with you.

    I object to MindFreedom and to many many things said in MIA articles, because they are endorsing Psychotherapy, Recovery and Healing. But if you want a law that does nothing but abolish forced procedures, I am with you.

    And these 1982 principles are great because they speak to the main arguments in favor of forced procedures, the temporary involuntary commitments, insane at time of crime, not sane enough to stand trial. They reject all of these.

    So yes, a law to eliminate forced procedures.

    Sometimes a simple idea, which nonetheless could have broad sweeping ramifications, is better addressed by the initiative process. Anything which goes thru a state legislature is subject to negation and amendment. But with an initiative, people can vote yes or no. That’s it.

    Interesting that this came out of Vermont. Because thinking about this, that was where I was going to recommend trying first.

    Anyplace where you have a large rich versus poor tension, or where there are racial tensions, or urban versus rural tensions, or where suburbs are exiting metros as a form of race based tax secession, or where the politics are defined by high profile crimes, or where people feel that they need to be carrying firearms to be safe, or where people worry about who is saved and who is not, then they are going to believe in Mental Illness. Fear of the Other, and feeling that they have a need to delegitimate them, are what drive this.

    So Northeast ( initially excluding Massachusetts and Connecticut ) and then Northwest. After that try Colorado and Minnesota.

    In some of these places you could even make it a constitutional amendment. Makes it very hard to ever get around it.

    Should work, and I am with you. I agree with the 1982 Principles and the underlying logic.

    In the Sunbelt you have Born Again Christianity and Pyramid Scams. In the Northeast and Northwest, you have strong support for organized labor, so that is where a ban on forced procedures should work.

    Just one caveat. I don’t think forced procedures are a very large piece of the mental health hoax anymore. But I agree that forced procedures are one of the key legal justifications for the entire hoax.

    So to do much, you need Comrades. And this is where it could get complicated.

    Here is my proposed federal law, countering Murphy:

    1. All forced psychiatric procedures and keeping of psychiatric records are abolished.

    2. No giving of psychiatric medications to children, now a mid-level felony.

    3. Mandatory reporting clarified and strengthened, so that doctors, therapists and others who work with children, but do not report suspected cases of child abuse, will be subject to mandatory arrest. ( wipes out the entire FixMyKid industry )

    4. Parents cannot scapegoat a child, as now they can easily be sued, and disinheritance of a child is prohibited, as it is in most all of the industrialized world. Power is transferred from the testators to the heirs. Middle-Class child abuse is no longer profitable.



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  29. Frank wrote and Oldhead quoted:

    The notion that “mental illnesses” are “biological” supports psychiatry in its medical pretensions.

    Of course this is true. But there is also a larger issue which is not being addressed. And it is all the more important as Foucault’s name has been introduced, and as I see it, this is without understanding.

    Even if a therapist is promoting their services without specific claims to DSM or a biological basis, there is still a big problem. Foucault’s main idea about psychiatry is that it is supposedly curing MORAL DEFECT, and that this is it’s justification. So the medical claim is secondary.

    So when an angry person is being told that they “need therapy”, they are being told that they have a moral problem. Whether or not it is medical is secondary.

    And then a central theme of Foucault’s work is that the coercion has become non-physical. It works by subjectification. You make the person believe that if they are distressed or not complying with some norm or standard, that they have a problem. So the central actor here is psychotherapy, without need to direct coercion, drugs, or medical claims.

    So I say that it is only a small portion of the population which has ever been exposed to forced treatment, or at risk of it.

    But all of us who refuse to accept the legitimating discourses behind the Middle-Class Family, Capitalism, Psychiatry, or Psychotherapy, are under continuing attack and marginalization, 24 hours a day and 365 days per year. Anyone who is discontented is always told that they need therapy, recovery, healing, or Jesus.

    So this non-medical, non-physical coercion is the most present threat and it does the most to shape our society and our everyday experiences.

    I would never be part of anything unless it took a position against Psychotherapy, Recovery, and Healing, even if its legislative efforts were confined to ending forced treatment.

    So Frank and I are going door to door trying to invite people to our Anti-Psychiatry meeting. What do we hear?

    Sorry, I’ve got an appointment with my therapist that night. I’ve been angry with lots of things that lately, and I need my therapist to talk me out of my anger.

    Sorry, I’m meeting secretary for a Co-Dependents Anonymous Meeting, so I need to be there. Without our meeting people wouldn’t know that they need to just let go, anytime there are problems.

    Sorry, My son has Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and so I have to take him to his therapist regularly, otherwise he gets hard to handle.

    Oh you know, I used to be just like you, rebellious. But then I found Jesus.


    Capitalism Plus Dope Equals Genocide

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  30. Alternative approach against Mental Health system will be,that one of MIA staff
    interview,me.I will be blamed for all bad what will follow,you can say that you
    protect freedom of speech and right to be heard,in my infamous interview.Really
    simple,just we need to agree,where such interview will take place and who will
    interview me.Bloody fair, isn’t?

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  31. If perhaps we can agree that it’s dangerous turf to make claim that some are genetically inferior, which is the basis for the biomedical model. But I think it’s presumptuous (and insulting to many of us) to assume “early trauma” is what might cause distress. Why? Because that type of Freudian type thinking blames parents by default. It also allows other, later traumas to be dismissed or even forgiven. I am talking about psych abuse, for one thing. I really have not been the same since I was abused while inpatient at the age of 53. I am 58 now.
    Psychs regularly get off the hook for abuse, calling it “care”. So few of these are reported. A trauma can happen to anyone at any age. Crap, if they’re telling vets they had bad parents or have chemical imbalances that’s like saying war is great, military rape is par for the course, and if you didn’t like it, take these pills and for godsakes don’t ever talk about it, you’ll make us look bad.

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  32. Frank wrote, “If psychiatry is ‘well-defined, anti-psychiatry is ‘well-defined’. Anti-psychiatry is opposition to psychiatry.”

    Yes, but psychiatry does not exit in a vacuum, nor is its function well understood.


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  33. Frank, If you want to outlaw forced Psychiatric Procedures, I am with you, just so long as in so doing you are not advocating Therapy, Recovery, or Healing.

    In my previous post I suggested doing it by initiative and starting with Vermont.

    I like those 1982 principles because they address the most obvious objections. Has anyone done a study of law and actual practice state by state and in other countries? A web site should be made to track it, just like we track SOL Reform for child sexual molestation.

    Have you looked at this, provided by JimG, to see what they are doing?


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  34. Hi there, everyone. First let me profusely thank all of the people who have come to my defence re the criticism of the scholarship that has been coming out in Canadian sources. Much appreciated. That said, let me correct a misimpression that first appeared in one of the comments on MIA and keeps getting recycled. The scholarship is not something for the medical school at University of Toronto. It is for students at OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education), which is the graduate faculty of education at University of Toronto. It has particularly relevance for Adult Education and Community Development (which is a social change and activist program). Correspondingly, there is not remotely a course in antipsychiatry in the medical school. Rather there is an integration of antipsychiatry into my courses at OISE, as well as a coterie of students doing theses in this area, including students who are psychiatric survivors. Hope this helps clarify.

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  35. Thank you Bonnie for clarifying that. I think the misunderstanding did start with the Huffington Post.

    I like that better that your initiative will be part of this OISE.

    An Anti-Psychiatry program in a medical school would invariably end up treating patients, and so it would be another version of Therapy, Recovery, Healing, i.e. part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    An Anti-Psychiatry program with OISE would be fine.

    I have also suggested a Restorative Justice Project. It would consist of Attorneys, Forensic Psychologists, Sociologists, and Political Scientists.

    This would never do anything resembling psychotherapy. But it would engage in legislative and political activism, and it would sue the pants off of Psychiatrists, Psychotherapists, Big Pharma, and Parents.


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  36. If you try to oppose psychiatry, and try say to change laws to stop forced treatment, then most people are going to ask you, “What is your alternative”, because from their POV ~~~mental illness~~~ is real, and the streets are full of crazies who “need help”.

    So unless your opposition to psychiatry clearly opposes Therapy, Recovery, and Healing, then you will end up promoting them, and this is the problem.

    So then what is the alternative?

    Well first of all there is no need for any alternative because the claim that Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Recovery, and Healing are needed is completely bogus.

    But the answer to most all problems, all social injustice, is political organizing, and then political and legal action. And in fact, what Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Recovery, and Healing do is discourage this political organizing.

    So what I would say is, Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Recovery, and Healing are bogus, just more abuses targeted at abuse survivors. So lets now outlaw forced psychiatric procedures, the psychiatric drugging of children, and make these doctors comply with mandatory reporting and report suspected cases of child abuse, so that they cannot be accomplices of the parents.

    What we need is political organizing and political and legal action. So we should have something which does this, which I want to call The Restorative Justice Project.

    Thanks to Jim for this:


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  37. https://chomsky.info/1971xxxx/

    On the other hand, when we discussed the problem of human nature and political problems, then differences arose between us. And contrary to what you think, you can’t prevent me from believing that these notions of human nature, of justice, of the realisation of the essence of human beings, are all notions and concepts which have been formed within our civilisation, within our type of knowledge and our form of philosophy, and that as a result form part of our class system; and one can’t, however regrettable it may be, put forward these notions to describe or justify a fight which should-and shall in principle–overthrow the very fundaments of our society. This is an extrapolation for which I can’t find the historical justification. That’s the point. ..





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  38. I’d just like folks who are subscribed to this thread to know that I am launching a radio show on Blog Talk Radio this coming Monday, August 14, 2017, topic: Psychiatric Diagnosis. Pros and Cons. I am inviting anyone who sees this to call in and discuss the topic for 30 minutes. I will upgrade the station when we get listenership and an enthusiastic following.

    Call this number: (323) 443-7210 Press 1 or *1 to speak live to the host (me).

    http://blogtalkradio.com/juliemadblogger at 3pm New York time.

    Please join in the discussion! Psych diagnosis! Monday th 14th of August 2017 at 3pm New York time. This is a live radio discussion.


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