Every year at this time, from Canada to Ireland, from Turkey to South Africa, both determined and not-so-determined folk make a very unusual list, known traditionally as New Year’s resolutions. They make resolutions about how to assert themselves at work. They make resolutions about how they will treat others, about doing something about their ever-increasing heroin use, about returning to school, about standing up to the class bully, about spending quality time with their loved ones. All good. This notwithstanding, although there are now a fair number of folk with a high degree of antipsychiatry knowledge and commitment, only but rarely do such factors figure in anyone’s New Year’s resolutions.
Aimed precisely at this population, this article is intended to help remedy that oversight. What follows, accordingly, are antipsychiatry resolutions—ones that people may borrow from at will.
More specifically, below are three sets — 1) a general set for everyone with a critique; 2) a set for survivors and “users” of psychiatry; and 3) a set for “mental health professionals”. Of course, everyone’s situation is unique (one size does not fit all). Accordingly, this is a pick-and-choose situation. If there are any that you find yourself wanting to include in your own Resolution List, with or without modification, just feel free.
A caveat: It is hardly a secret that the vast majority of New Year’s resolutions are never kept—or even seriously adopted. This is probably because they are vague inclinations to which people have no special relationship, with the making of them primarily a feel-good custom that people are following. I am hoping that we can do better with the antipsychiatry ones. My invitation, accordingly, is to thumb through the list and, insofar as you pick any, pick only ones that fit you, that are timely for you, that so resonate with your sense of yourself and your trajectory that you genuinely will be “resolved”.
That said, read, enjoy, and use at will.
General Antipsychiatry New Year’s Resolutions for All Critics of Psychiatry
I will worry less about damaging my credibility by endorsing an abolitionist position. Rather, I will aim at mustering up the courage to say what I know.
This year, I will stop just yakking about antipsychiatry activism and start putting it into practice (translation: “walk the walk”).
I will familiarize myself with social movement theory and become more strategic as an activist.
For every hour I spend responding to posts on the Internet, I will spend a comparable amount of time “doing antipsychiatry” in the material world. More specifically, I will do at least one of: a) spearhead a demonstration; b) respond to problematic legislation; c) create a new antipsychiatry organization; d) join Tina Minkowitz’s campaign for the absolute prohibition on nonconsensual psychiatry.
I will stop using “mental health” language entirely—will not use words like “medication”, or even ones like “symptoms” and “mental health”—for as Audre Lorde (1984) so astutely put it years ago, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”
I will work with others at rewriting the woefully inadequate description of antipsychiatry found on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Anti-psychiatry). Minimally, I will correct the conflation between the mad and the antipsychiatry movements, and I will ensure that the entry is far less American-centric (oh yes, that is a problem).
I will do my homework, and by September, I will be able to distinguish effortlessly between “antipsychiatry” and “critical psychiatry”, between Thomas Szasz and R.D. Laing. I will likewise familiarize myself with the attrition model of psychiatry abolition (see Burstow, 2014), get a feel for how it works.
Whenever faced with a new initiative, I will automatically ask: 1) if successful, will the actions or campaigns that we are contemplating move us closer to the long range goal of psychiatry abolition?; 2) Are they likely to avoid improving or giving added legitimacy to psychiatry?; and 3) Do they avoid “widening” psychiatry’s net?
I will adopt at least one of the book activism strategies outlined in “Getting Our Anti/Critical Psychiatry Authors Read: A Case for Book Activism” (https://www.madinamerica.com/2015/04/getting-anticritical-psychiatry-authors-read-case-book-activism/). The point is, we need our authors to be read.
I will stop holding my peace when people mention that a loved one is considering starting a psychiatric “treatment”.
I will demonstrate for a total ban on ECT—I mean, shooting electricity through a person’s skull—like, what the fuck?
When asked for my advice regarding a psychiatric “treatment” that someone is considering, I will do everything possible to avoid falling into either of these common errors: a) soft-peddling what I know and b) being insensitive or disrespectful.
I will pay more attention to the plight of families.
I will be conscientious in my attempt to integrate feminism, antiracism, anti-ageism, etc. into my antipsychiatry work.
I will stop treating critics of psychiatry whose analysis differs from mine as THE ENEMY.
If I find myself acting like a troll on an anti/critical psychiatry site, I will cease and desist—then send myself to bed without supper.
I will prioritize infusing kindness into the antipsychiatry and mad community—for when “push comes to shove”, besides the fact that infighting is counterproductive, it matters how we treat one another.
At least once a month, I will tell antipsychiatry warriors like Lauren Tenney, Don Weitz, Celia Brown, and Mary Maddock what wonderful work they do.
I will inject far more fun into my antipsychiatry activism, for to quote Emma Goldman, “If there won’t be dancing at the revolution, I’m not coming.” (see https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Emma_Goldman).
Early in the year, I will form an antipsychiatry think tank which examines each situation for political leverage, for what pressure can be brought to bear.
If I happen upon a “mental health” professional snickering at the tenets of antipsychiatry, I will chime in with what I know, scrupulously remaining factual, clear, and logical, irrespective of how he comports himself. Though in extremis, under my breath, I just might mutter, “May you laugh so hard that your anus turns inside out.” Oh what a joy it is to curse now and then!
I will critique Bonnie Burstow a whole lot less—I duly swear it!
I will critique Bonnie Burstow a whole lot more—I duly swear it!
If at any time I see an opinionated shrink coming my way, I will spit three times, throw salt over my shoulder, hightail it out of there—then treat myself to the yummiest schnitzel in town.
Antipsychiatry Resolutions for Survivors and/or “Users” of Psychiatry
If taking on antipsychiatry in its fullness feels like more than I can do, I will figure out one baby step—then act on it.
I will remind myself regularly that I deserve a full life, whether or not that means being “psychiatry-free”, which I suspect that it might.
I will stop waiting for recognized leaders in the movement to initiate action. Where I feel strongly about an issue, I will myself assume a leadership role.
I will continue to tell the story of my psychiatrization, as helpful—and personal stories are without doubt vital to our movement and to me. At the same time, should at any point such sharing leave me feeling in a rut, I will give myself permission “not to go there” or to contribute in a different way.
If like last year, I again find myself wondering whether I have a mental illness after all, I will reach out to fellow survivors who are likewise antipsychiatry. Who better than my brothers and sisters who have also “been there”?
Antipsychiatry Resolutions for “Mental Health” Professionals
Instead of dismissing them as impractical, I will make an effort to learn from the various survivors and critical/antipsychiatry professionals who venture further than me, for deep down I know that here is where hope lay.
Bit by bit, I will sever my connection with institutional psychiatry.
I will stop pretending that the “system” can be “fixed”.
For every year in which I was silent about what I knew about psychiatry, I will donate $100.00 to a worthy antipsychiatry project—and which of them aren’t worthy?
Whatever the personal cost—and I am well aware that the cost will be high—I will publically declare myself antipsychiatry—and explain why.
I will use the credibility bestowed upon me as a professional to add to the credibility of survivor knowledge.
I will stop charging when I contribute to the antipsychiatry cause. If others give of their labour freely, why not me?
I will add institutional ethnography to my repertoire and start mining the everyday “work” with which I was once associated for entries into critical understanding.
I will forgive myself for the mistake of ever buying into psychiatry, realizing that I too am a product of socialization.
Counterintuitive though this is for me, I will stop trying to increase the number of professionals—even empathic ones.
Enough is enough!: I will become a “whistle-blower”.
I will take as one of my primary responsibilities transferring my skills to the community, in essence, doing myself out of a job.
More and more, I will challenge my colleagues—doctors, nurses, social workers, and psychologists especially—to face what they know about psychiatry, indeed, what on some level, the whole world knows—then to act accordingly.
Hopefully, a few of the resolutions in the medley above speak to you. If not, by all means, invent your own set from scratch. What is important here is having a plan and going about the work of antipsychiatry strategically, reflectively.
In ending, wishing one Donald Trump Esquire a new calling—perhaps used car salesman. Wishing “zei gezunt” (be well) to those who “walk the walk”, whether your social movement be antipsychiatry, feminism, or environmentalism. Wishing for an end to racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, etc. Wishing that psychiatry starts being widely seen for what it is—a “pseudo-science” on a par with blood-letting. Wishing for peace in the world. Wishing for love, kindness, wisdom, community, and revolution.
And wishing everyone everywhere, whatever your lot in life, a good and “psychiatry-free” year.
Breggin, P. (1991). Toxic Psychiatry. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
Breggin, P. and Cohen D. (2007). Your Drug May be the Problem: How and Why to Stop Psychiatric Medication. New York: DeCapo Press.
Burstow, B. (2014). The withering of psychiatry: An attrition model for antipsychiatry. In Bonnie Burstow, Brenda LeFrançois, & Shaindl Diamond (Eds.), Psychiatry Disrupted: Theorizing Resistance and Crafting the (R)evolution (pp. 34-51). Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Lorde, A. (1984). Sister Outsider. Berkeley: Crossing Press.
Szasz, T. (1970). The Manufacture of Madness. New York: Harper and Row.
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.
If you think psychiatry is a religion as I do, you know a religion can not be ended, so understand change will take a very long time.
As I call psychiatry a religion and psychiatry calls itself a science, the only thing I can do to fight it, is to calmly and rationally prove psychiatry is a religion.
People have had a faith in medicine ever since the effectiveness of penicillin (magic pill) saved many peoples lives. “Before antibiotics, 90% of children with bacterial meningitis died” https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/treatments/Pages/The-History-of-Antibiotics.aspx
The devil was the one we blamed in the past for our bad behaviour. With God and Satan being dead today, it is unbalanced brain chemicals that causes our imperfections.
The “mental health” industry calls their billing code DSM a “bible,” which does imply they agree with you that psychiatry is a religion, rather than a scientific field of study. I, too, agree.
Personally, I don’t agree that God and Satan are dead, however, and there actually are a lot of you tubers (including economists, philosophers, and political commentators) who see that humanity is indeed in the midst of a spiritual battle between good and evil.
Turn off the TV and do some research, but a warning, the lines between good and evil are not as clearly defined as the “powers that be” want you to believe. For example, why was Kanye West drugged by psychiatrists for speaking out against the corrupt people surrounding Hillary? If Trump is 100% the evil one, wouldn’t it be his people using forced psychiatric treatment against dissenters?
There are good and bad people on both sides of the political spectrum, name calling is immature, and it is time our society learns to coexist in a mutually respectful manner. The truth be told, it is the system that is corrupt and evil, not the people who claim one political affiliation or the other.
The attrition model of abolition assumes just that , that is, assumes that this is a slow and gradual process.
There ARE dead religions. If the majority of people on earth are heavily superstitious, well then, I’d just call it that edge that the minority has over them.
well put, Frank
My sister has a bad allergy to the antibiotic penicillin. If real doctors behaved liked shrinks they would force it into her–at needlepoint if necessary. Then they would blame her for being treatment resistant or say she wasn’t giving penicillin a try till she keeled over.
I am very allergic to penicillin, any and all alleged psychiatric drugs, almost any and all other drugs, alcohol, coffee, sunshine (not the Light), and heat/hot weather.
I live by my wits, intuition, instinct, the Love of God/Jesus/Christ/Buddha, etc. Consciousness, Nature, Art, etc. and not and never again by illusory outside authority who knows and cares nothing about me; very especially psychiatry, modern medicine etc. You must understand much of the modern medical doctors are in “cahoots” with the psychiatrists and their sycophants.
Also, I am dancing to the revolution in utter joy; as I know this is the real revolution the world has been awaiting. We also need to remind ourselves to laugh to our success and be totally creative, artistic, poetic, etc. This is truly because the “pro-psychiatry” definitely lacks all those things; which is why they will not win. We will. We do as they say have history on our side.
Thank you for your inspiring contribution.
I will continue my “Call for Stop Torture in Psychiatry in Norway”: http://home.broadpark.no/~wkeim/files/stop-torture-an.html and the the compaign: https://www.causes.com/campaigns/102618-stop-torture-in-psychiatry-in-norway
good to hear!
An excellent piece on all levels. I’ll hold most of my commentary for the responses. A couple thoughts on one or two points though:
— While I agree that there’s “too much talk, not enough action,” it’s also important to engage in actions which specifically carry an anti-psychiatry message and are not based on or clouded by the advocacy of reformist and illusory goals (such as “making psychiatry better”). So while I totally agree that moving past MIA “rants” is necessary, if people took your suggestions too literally we might be confronted with the prospect of ten individuals each trying to start their own “antipsychiatry organization” and people warring over which is the most legitimate. An organization or network of some sort is absolutely essential, however it should be a collective effort. Likewise with impulsively organizing demonstrations. There’s a well-known slogan “stop bitching, start a revolution” — but revolutions are not started by individuals, they come about as part of an historical process involving many sectors of society.
— Though this is no doubt a longer and more complex conversation, to me talking about “attrition” is somewhat like talking about “evolution, not revolution.” Part of this is that I’m more of a Marxist than an anarchist, but also in general I think it will take more than education to achieve results, though education is certainly a big part of what is necessary. It’s sort of like, while evolution is a gradual process, revolution serves to speed it up at certain junctures. (Or as Abbie Hoffman said, “the system will collapse under its own weight; our job is to give it a few kicks…”) Psychiatry will continue as long as capitalism and its concomitant alienation continues, so we need to address both, not one at a time.
— I think rewriting the Wikipedia section on “anti-psychiatry” is long overdue, as currently it conflates the term as once used by Laing, Cooper, etc. with the actual anti-psychiatry movement. This could be done collectively via the Organizing Forum or some similar means. When a “quorum” of those who identify as anti-psychiatry (more than the current 3 or 4 people) is achieved we can collectively come up with an article with which to replace the current Wikipedia confusion; if they refuse to accept it that would then become one of our primary issues to pursue as part of our collective agenda.
All in all it’s great to see a genuinely anti-psych article at the top of MIA’s home page as we approach 2017.
Thanks for the comments, Oldhead. To be clear, I am not an evolutionist and yes I agree pressure is needed. While I value much of Marx, my idea of pressure however, stems more from Gandhi. That noted, it goes without saying that i totally agree that we need an unequivocally antipsychiatry agenda–something not clouded by reformism,
Don’t forget that Gandhi had the world renown reputation as a so-called “nonviolent/pacifist revolutionary activist.”
It is an historical truth that during his lifetime there was not a single war he did not like, and he ended up actively helping to recruit people to fight in those wars.
It is amazing how history is often twisted to serve certain political agendas.
And the inspiring story of Helen Keller who became world famous (even had a Hollywood movie made of her life) by overcoming being without sight and the ability to hear, was robbed by historians of her Revolutionary essence. She once wrote an essay praising Lenin as a great revolutionary leader of the Russian Revolution. Who ever heard about this part of her life?
We must be careful who we promote as strategic icons in the pursuit of Revolutionary change. BTW, this comment is not intended to promote pacifism as a political strategy. I am only pointing out the contradictory nature of Gandhi and how he has been promoted historically.
BTW, I did like your blog and your use of humor to make important political points promoting anti-psychiatry. May you have a productive new year.
Richard, I am glad you like the blog, and as always, it is good to hear from you, Re the contradictory nature of Gandhi, I assume that all leaders are to varying degrees contradictory, but that does not stop me from seriously considering their espoused principles. As for Gandhi, I am concerned by your statement that it is “an historical truth that during his lifetime there was not a single war he did not like, and he ended up actively helping to recruit people to fight in those wars.” I cannot but feel this is a serious exaggeration, as opposed to a “historical fact” for it flies in the face of many of the very clear stands he took when countries were under attack (not all of which I agree with, by the way, but which were nonetheless distinctly in conformity with the principles of non-violent resistance). Also, there is a sense in this post as well as some of those by others that “revolutionary” necessarily means the inclusion of violence, an equation which is not something I agree with, though I very much agree that “revolutionary” definitively means the concerted application of some kind of pressure or force (in other words, that consciousness-raising itself is not enough). Anyway, just my two cents so that you know where I am coming from. I respect that often that those of us who are radical are forced to agree to disagree on such things for we are highly unlikely to convince one another, and there in the end, a great deal that unites us.
It seems that Gandhi had distinct periods in his life characterized by different, sometimes contradictory, themes. I believe that at one point he said that if the only choice was between violence and doing nothing he would choose violence. Actually though I don’t read Richard’s thrust as advocating violence but pointing out what he sees as hypocrisy.
However, you bring up an important point from a different angle than I have in the past, which is the equation of revolution and violence in the minds of so many. This is what is implied in liberalistic slogans about “nonviolent revolution,” which I have criticized in the past as slandering and even endangering those who talk about revolution. It is not necessary to include the word “nonviolent” to qualify or sanitize the word “revolution,” because revolution per se has nothing to do with violence; it is about sudden and sweeping systemic change which involves the seizure of power by one class from another.
A few thoughts on your thoughts…
1. Psychiatry is very organized. There are numerous pe-ah organizations. Anti-psychiatry is not so well organized. Maybe there’s a coalition somewhere on the internet. One anti-psychiatry organization would be an improvement. Two anti-psychiatry organizations would be twice the improvement. Letting many expressly anti-psychiatry grass-roots organizations bloom and flourish would be even more of an improvement. Etc. Of course, you’ve got to start somewhere.
2. I wouldn’t have my own anti-capitalism interfere with my anti-psychiatry. It is possible for them to do so. No Marxist revolution to date has done away with psychiatry. There you go! RIP, USSR. There is hope for anarchism after all. It, anarchy, being anti-authoritarian, in a way that Marxism isn’t, is in a better position from the start. Anti-psychiatry is open to all sorts of political positions. No need, really, to alienate anybody by putting establishing a more equitable economic system before the destruction of psychiatric oppression. The two are not dependent. I’m perfectly willing and able to work with Fox News junkies to achieve goals we have in common. (Of course, it is also important, and more important, for me to work with the radical left with whom I identify.)
3. 1. I wouldn’t conflate Laing and Cooper the way you never tire of doing, and in Cooper’s case, “Why reinvent the wheel?” This is to say, anti-psychiatry does have a history, albeit, not so lengthy a history as does psychiatry. Why don’t we acknowledge as much. (Of course, anti-psychiatry is what OldHead says it is, and only what OldHead says it is, isn’t it?) 2. I have more trouble with Wikipedia’s anti-psychiatry page for referencing the likes of Allen Frances and his ilk, people who really don’t belong there, the anti-anti-psychiatry crowd, in other words. 3. Although 3 or 4 people are enough to form the core of an organization, it doesn’t make for much of a movement. Worldwide though, surely, we’ve got our movement.
Hi again, Frank: Your point about Cooper, for sure is important. And yes, as you know, I am an anarchist. the problem with the Wikipedia pages, is beyond what you outline. Almost none of what they include is actually antipsychiatry. Moreover, it is incredibly American-centric.
I’m an American, and I certainly don’t take exception to what you say. Superpower politics, of course, to one extent or another play a part, and could have something to do with this very lop-sided situation. Also, and this is very apropos, American exceptionalism. There are people who think that America should be above International law, and this is one of the reasons given for not ratifying the CRPD. Yes, psychiatry is very big in the USA, and anti-psychiatry is arguably bigger elsewhere, so why so much space given to Americans? Imperialist expansion and western domination as usual perhaps? In a nutshell, it is unfair.
Just browsed the Wiki article again, it’s totally pathetic and full of inaccuracies and contradictions. Who wrote this in the first place? (My guess — some “mental health consumer” shill who wanted to portray anti-psychiatry as the precursor to the modern, enlightened “consumer” movement. Which is not a movement at all but an industry.)
The two are not dependent.
Totally disagree. Psychiatry deals basically with problems created by capitalism, and functions to preserve it by disempowering and discrediting those who resist, whether consciously or not.
I’m perfectly willing and able to work with Fox News junkies to achieve goals we have in common.
No contradiction there, so am I. That doesn’t negate the basic analysis. As for Cooper and the other “radical therapists,” I think you yourself have agreed that they were NOT anti-psychiatry. Cooper was a practicing psychiatrist. “Anti-psychiatry” to him was a term describing a school of psychiatry. So while he may have originated the term, in practice the anti-psychiatry movement — meaning the movement against psychiatry — did not begin in earnest in the U.S. until the first (or some would say second) Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression. WE own and are the experts on that history, not Wikipedia.
You can get rid of psychiatry without getting rid of capitalism. That’s all I’m saying. You didn’t have it during feudal times anyway. When your revolution gets rid of psychiatry I will give a big victory whoop. Just in case you haven’t noticed. It hasn’t happened yet.
I’ve read Cooper write, at one point, that he wasn’t a practicing psychiatrist anymore. I don’t really know what he meant. He is linked with Laing through the book he and Laing co-authored on the philosophy of Jean Paul Sartre, which is probably very much at the heart of their differences as well.
There is also an article of recent date with the heading: RD Laing: Was the counterculture’s favorite psychiatrist a dangerous renegade or a true revolutionary? This is the same RD Laing who I’ve seen on video claim there was no counterculture! I don’t think David Cooper would make the same claim.
Anti-psychiatry didn’t appeal to RD Laing at all. Furious is the word I’ve seen used by his son to describe his reaction to Cooper’s efforts to get something going along those lines. Laing in a 1976 video explained that he wasn’t anti-psychiatry because he liked his fee. I think that about says it all.
You didn’t have it during feudal times anyway.
Capitalism or psychiatry?
Feudalism was replaced by capitalism. Modern psychiatry came about in the 1700’s as capitalism was taking hold. Before that there were mad houses, ships of fools, etc. but unless I missed something psychiatry as a “medical” practice didn’t come about till later.
When your revolution gets rid of psychiatry I will give a big victory whoop. Just in case you haven’t noticed. It hasn’t happened yet.
My revolution? Even I don’t have that big an ego. 🙂
Psychiatry was not a word until 1808, but, of course, you had your specialist doctors before that point.
The scale would have been minuscule before the second half of the 17th century anyway.
I feel we should return to the ‘minuscule scale’ of ‘no psychiatry’, relatively speaking.
Great post, Bonnie! When it is so easy for folks to get discouraged (and/or corrupted), it is good to hear those words of encouragement that we all need. Although there is so much tied up in the psychiatric illusion, it is not invincible. There used to be “poor houses”, “pillories”, and so forth, and they’ve been done away with, in the main. There used to be slave plantations, and they’ve pretty much been done away with. Silliness, error, and misfortune were not always the discrete “disease” entities that they are today. Folly need not reign eternal, nor need wisdom be fleeting. (“The valley of the shadow of death” is not so foreboding as it once was.) Psychiatry, fortune telling, and ‘casino capitalism’ have all seen better days. Fortune telling is not held in the same regard with which it once was. Someday psychiatry should be in the same sinking boat. Given 1/6th of the nation on psychiatric drugs, the numbers of people in opposition to the current absurdity can only grow with time. Every time a person speaks out on the subject, I feel we’ve made an advance. It is my belief that eventually we will win.
Although it may be a bit premature to lift my glass just yet, flash forward 3 days or so into the future, and using a little imagination, “Here’s to bringing in an Anti-Psychiatric 2017!”
For starters 1800 – 1820 there were only a few thousand ‘lunatics’. But with the ‘Industrial Revolution’ the insanity took off. By 1890 there were about 100,000 ‘lunatics’.
In the world or a particular country?
In the UK.
It’s all in here
By 1890 there were about 100,000 ‘lunatics’.
Before modern medicine, you could attribute notable cases of insanity to epilepsy( no longer a mental illness) and syphilis ( another physical disease).
No one talks about the discovery of the four blood types, while looking for the cause of “lunatics”.
That’s a very good point. Also, if you look for them – everybody can have the characteristics of a “schizophrenic”.
Yes, indeed, an antipsychiatric 2017.
You say you will “demonstrate” for a “total ban” on ECT, better simply called electroshock. What did the worldwide protest against shock (May, 2016) actually accomplish, peaceful and well -organized demonstration that it was?? It received pretty much zero press and amost 2 years have gone by. What will another “demonstration” like this do? Nothing.
If ever there was an evil, barbaric assault and human rights violation, it is embodied by shock.
Just recently, Dr. Dadi lost his lawsuit against the “doctor” who brain damaged him, destroyed his life and career as an eminent cardiologist. A jury of his peers did not believe ECT could cause the type and extent of injuries he suffered. Pathetic ignorance and lack of knowledge about ECT.
So what will “work” to ban these instruments of torture and stop those who administer ECT, including well known shrinks like David Healy, expert on psychiatric drug harms.
Yes, shooting electricity through the unique, creative, and delicate brain- what the fuck indeed.
The clueless FDA needs to ban ECT starting now, today, this minute.
Your comment highlights my previous note about “impulsive” demonstrations conducted primarily by individuals outside the context of a larger movement. Not saying they should never be done — especially in emergency situations — but the real work in building a movement is more involved, and grueling, than a one day event.
Don’t know, exactly, why we didn’t continue the 2015 protest in 2016. I do know that we used to have demonstrations with every International Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression. I don’t think numbers are the problem. I do think sustaining momentum, in the face of daunting odds, can be a real and reoccurring issue. Also, it’s not just shock. It’s the fact that they think harming the patient is “healing” the patient. And “caring” about the patient, and protecting the patient. Damaging the brain and damaging the body isn’t the way to treat people, and it’s not going to produce healthy people at that. How are we to make such “treatment” logical again? And should we even try to do so?
“why we didn’t continue”
The answer is simple, with another question “Who is making the money?”
For so many of us who put our all into that protest – we held a protest but nobody came – I alienated my family who were ashamed, frightened my friends who `would have come but just happened to be…’ spent far more money than I had, and I actually had some powerful allies, like John Read who managed to get the journalist I previously knew and had written the copy for, to actually write a story and get it onto page 3 of a leading newspaper. Without him, my story was a non starter. And that is the problem. Without a physical presence, without handfuls of brochures at ECT clinics, handed out ALL the time for instance, without the press, without the politicians (I found ONE who asked questions), without money and a central organisation and without direct action, this will be a VERY long haul. Peer organisations are being colonised by the establishment via government money, politicians never even SEE the letters we send, their staffers field them. Every time there is a card played, the establishment’s PR and lobby organisation moves in and trumps it. Nobody is game to step up as whistleblowers, the costs are too high. Each time an outrage is exposed, a couple of the perpetrators are scapegoated and the rest walk away relatively unscathed. I write, I expose and forward as much as I can to social media, to friends and acquaintances, I’m now elderly and I need a life, not to be viewed as an outraged crank whose opinions are put aside BECAUSE I’m an outraged crank. I DO tell people who are considering psychiatry not to do it, I DO try to be as cool and scientific as humanly possible and I succeed in that. I DO my homework, I AM well informed and I preach against the excesses of some of my fellow anti-psychiatrists, to my detriment.
But I am discouraged. My biggest issue is ECT – Yes `what the FUCK?’ But given all of the above I’m leaning towards direct action – DESTROY the FUCKING machines!
Revolutions typically succeed in the end by direct action – Marx, Engels etc, etc wrote and wrote, the suffragettes wrote and wrote and peacefully demonstrated, but in the end thousands of angry people threatened the peace of the day and WON it.
At the moment, we are having a quiet revolution and we are being laughed at, sneered at and set aside by a group of pernicious, venal charlatans with huge financial recourses, the ear of politicians, the faith of the people and no morals – that is the stuff of tyrants. And all our suggestions of alternatives, of changes in society, of making everything nice are useless. A revolution is only possible if people COME.
There was no one there, Frank, who was committed to keeping up the momentum. Single demonstrations do very little. You need an organized campaign. And accounts in a very important way for why all initiatives have failed.
I am all for coordinated campaigns.
It would be good in lieu of an organization to at least develop a centralized anti-psychiatry network with clear positions. In that case if an individual or small group organized or engaged in an action consistent with these positions, the energy of the network could be mobilized to support the action via publicity, direct involvement, or eventually, hopefully, legal assistance where necessary. We could also develop handouts, etc. for use in such actions.
In lieu of!?….I’d say a network, even a coalition, is closer than nothing. Your network, if it is not an actual organization, it does involve organizing. All of which falls under the “coordinated campaigns” rubric. My point, it does involve people working together on a common end. Had we a “secret society”, that would be something, too, and there is something to be said for it. ‘A community of like-minded individuals’ divided by many miles can still accomplish much if they set their minds to it. Either way, somebody has got to act in “coordination” with somebody else, and there’s a great deal of difference between talking about it, and doing it. We need a little more doing, and a little less talking. Once you’re ‘on it’, great, then’s the time to claim bragging rights.
I belong to and am chair of n antipsychiatry group in Toronto Canada called “Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault, which has been active for a very long time. If others also belong to antipsychiatry organization, we could put on the agenda of our different groups having a international network that we could all join. Where are others on this issue? Have you local groups that are antipsychiatry? Could you form one if you have not one already? Could you take the initiative for them to join a network? Having at very least a network with some basic principles, is, I would think, very doable.
It would be difficult to impossible to form such a group at my present location. I can’t rule it out, but I can’t rule it in either. I would like to see a local group that could focus on political activism, but for now that is an ongoing long term goal. Forming some sort of group at the national level, at least in the USA, might be more feasible. I think we’ve got enough people right here at MIA to form the core group to do just that but, of course, those of us who are interested would have to come to some kind of consensus on the matter. As for the local grassroots level, once we had some sort of an organization, or coalition, we could work on forming affiliates or branches. Anyway, that’s the kind of thing I’d like to see develop. If anybody is in a better position to organize at the local level, maybe they could speak to that kind of thing. I’m not sure we have the local organizations to form an anti-psychiatry network, however, we do have the people, and our network could start with an organization, or a very few organizations, of this sort, to begin with.
The advantage of such a network would be that it could include both individuals in isolated areas as well as organizations. There are currently no active anti-psychiatry organizations as far as I know, and a network could also spur and support the development of such.
I like a lot of CAPA’s positions and think these could be part of the foundation for a set of principles, along with the 1982 Toronto principles.
Look, OldHead, that’s why I say we need an anti-psychiatry organization. It could be the start of an anti-psychiatry network. Our organization could network with the organization in Canada perhaps (CAPA). A few anti-psychiatry organizations, and you would have a more vital network. A network that would also be networking with isolated individuals across the country and in other parts of the world. I believe I mentioned once before at MIA the problems that arise from putting the cart before the horse so-to-speak. I’m not against having a network, but a network of isolated individuals is not going to take you very far. We need a group that can conduct regular meetings, and through these meetings, develop an agenda, and through that agenda, get things, things like a network, for instance, accomplished as a fact. A network and an inactive website, forums, periodic conferences, protests, you name it, the sky’s the limit. Capiche!?
“There are currently no active anti-psychiatry organizations as far as I know, and a network could also spur and support the development of such.”
Perhaps you mean, when you say “there are currently no active anti-psychiatry organizations”, in the USA. CAPA is an anti-psychiatry organization, and I’m not sure this statement is true for the rest of the world either.
I am not sure whether or not CAPA is the only active antipsychiatry group going –but active, we surely are. May guess is that there are a few others. I have a hunch that there is one in France. And for sure, there are lots on individuals throughout the world. Maybe if we started a network, we would soon find groups coming out from the woodwork. There is a CAPA meeting this Sunday. Do you want me to float the idea around about CAPA of taking the first step to facilitating the formation of a network of antipsychiatry groups and individuals? And if so, what do you think that first small step should look like? We are absurdly busy right now –but it is something that we could possibly more seriously look at, say, come May.
Definitely. Not sure it would go anywhere, but I think the idea has great potential. Perhaps individuals could network among themselves, and with CAPA and whatever other groups we found, and then begin to start their own groups. I’d like to see us get a group with a specifically anti-psychiatry perspective and agenda going in the USA. To do so, it might help if we had some kind of network available at the international level. I know there are a lot of people out there with an anti-psychiatry perspective, isolated from others, and it might help if we had some kind of vehicle for organizing and recruiting, as well as for expanding as a movement.
I’ve heard psychiatric drugs, or that so many people are on them, given as one of the reasons why the ECT protest wasn’t any more successful than it was. I thought that amusing, but it goes to the point. The issue isn’t even ECT. It’s this idea that “mental illness” “madness’ “bad thoughts” misbehavior etc. is like a cancerous growth that needs to be surgically removed. Physical damage in “mental health” treatment is thought to be “mentally healthful”. I think this is an idea that we really have to get beyond. If we can’t touch psychiatric drugs, we can’t touch the idea that after ECT psychiatric drugs are more of the same. Damage to the brain is thought to facilitate “good mental health”. Fewer thoughts, my thought, are not always better thoughts.
It’s this idea that “mental illness” “madness’ “bad thoughts” misbehavior etc. is like a cancerous growth that needs to be surgically removed.
The scary thing is why more people don’t care about the Orwellian implications of all this. Does one have to be a direct victim to “get it”? It sure seems that way.
Not sure if I understood — did you mean people were saying that being on drugs is why masses of psychiatrized people didn’t turn out for the shock demonstrations? I too would consider that amusingly absurd — I think you have mentioned being at the demonstration of several hundred people against Smith, Kline & French in ’78. Quite a few of the people there were on some kind of psych drug; that didn’t stop them, and it probably motivated them.
Or did they mean that people on drugs don’t feel compelled to protest shock since it doesn’t directly affect them?
I think it difficult sometimes for some shock survivors to understand the travails of people on psychiatric drugs. I was at the demo in 1978, but we were a couple dozen max maybe, if that, certainly no several hundred. The thing is, people were seeing shock as something to protest while psychiatric drugs have become, you know, the new normal or something. It’s harder, when you’ve got so many people on them, to get people to take a stand to fight them. They say you’re anti-“med”, and I’m ready to say, “What med?”, but as you can see, there is a gulf of understanding that can’t be crossed. There were many people at the protest in 1978 who weren’t taking psychiatric drugs, and there were no ACT teams then to make them do so. Apparently, since the 1970s, things have gotten more Orwellian than they might have been then.
People on psychiatric drugs are apt to feel that the drugs do them some good. Some of the newer drugs have less overtly annoying effects than the older ones did have. People who protest shock know that it has done them some harm. Teaching people that they don’t need this crutch or that is still challenging. Psychiatric drugs haven’t ceased to be the panacea of psychiatry. People are getting worse on the drugs. When such happens, however, they are just seen as, by contrast to how they once were, stabilizing.
Some people on psychiatric drugs are apt to feel that shock doesn’t directly affect them. Were it not for the drugs, for one thing, shock would probably be more prevalent than it is. I feel it does directly affect me because I have no great desire for either psychiatric drugs nor ECT, but I fear the ECT more. I might have been shocked if they weren’t resorting to drugs so much. I was drugged.
I thought I’d never come off drugs. It was only when I developed heart rythm problems on Seroquel that I attempted to quit totally. But it was more or less okay because the Seroquel at low level (less than 25 mg per day) has no neuroleptic effect whatsoever – just sleeping effect.
There was a point where shock was the ultimate threat enforcing “compliance” with lesser methods of barbarism. It doesn’t currently hold that kind of sway most of the time in the U.S. today, but that could easily change unless it’s banned entirely as a medically approved practice. It seems that other countries such as Australia may be even more barbaric shock-wise. Leeches and bloodletting actually make much more sense, at least in theory.
Regardless, every anti-psychiatry demonstration I ever attended has been strongly anti-drug and has included numerous drugged people who wanted to be not drugged. (This doesn’t include the 2012 APA demonstration, which I didn’t consider an anti-psychiatry demonstration.)
Frank, you’re remembering the attendance at that demo inaccurately, there were way more than a couple dozen people. I have photos (deteriorated polaroids but photos nonetheless). I recall that the majority of the participants had just come from the Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression at Bryn Mawr College, and arrived in buses which had been provided by Bryn Mawr “gratis” just to expedite getting us the hell out of there (another bizarre historical anecdote). There were enough people to completely swarm the entire front of the corporate headquarters of Smith, Kline & French (now Glaxo SmithKline). This was in conjunction with an international movement boycott of SKF’s over-the-counter products, such as Contac cold capsules, due to their production of Thorazine, Stelazine and Prolixin.. Maybe some of the Madness Network News articles from back then would be able to refresh both our memories on specifics.
It was a long time ago, and my memory would certainly be inaccurate. I only remember it as an affair involving a more modest number of people, but I’m not disputing your evidence. I wish I could see the photos. Like I said, I was there.
I know you were there. Don’t know how to upload old polaroids with a reddish tint, especially w/no scanner. Not really a big deal either way, though again, old MNN coverage might be informative. I know there were around 200 people at the conference.
May, 2015, not 2016…
A single world demonstration does very little, as you can see, though it was a good beginning. But a demonstration is not a prolonged strategy. You need a coordinated campaign with multiple tactics. It is not that none of us have the knowledge to bring this off. what we do no have is the people power. In essence, we need a far far bigger movement with people willing to act.
Exactly, and our present task is to help people understand that they DO have power if they choose to exercise it; also to lay out some winning strategies to convince people that whatever we do has a chance of succeeding. And especially at first we shouldn’t bite off more than we can chew.
Of course, but the point is that it won’t. That’s why we need to get a whole lot better both educating and applying pressure.
People believed in Bernard Madoff for many years. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madoff_investment_scandal
But the Pyramid scheme eventually ran out of new investors.
Using drugs continuously to deal with life’s problems does not work in the long run.
The children of today that are drugged will be unable or unwilling to work when adult. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hER0Qp6QJNU
Psychiatry is like a great, fire-breathing dragon that must be slain. It is good to see the warriors uniting in the cause of freedom, because this is a battle for freedom, and a battle against coercion and slavery. We can learn from the lessons of the past. How did the American colonists gain their independence from the tyranny of Great Britain? How did Abraham Lincoln contribute to the emancipation of the slaves? How did Churchill and the Allied Forces defeat Hitler and the Nazis? How does good triumph over evil, and how does freedom triumph over oppression in any epoch? There is a chink in the dragon’s armored scales, but our aim must be true, our arrow sharp, and our shot precise. Let us with courage go on to slay the dragon of psychiatry. Happy New Year.
Hey there — Happy New Year too of course — since you seem to come & go so unpredictably, do you have a public email or secure way to contact you relatively directly and quickly?
Your Dragon is like the Oz in the wizard of Oz. http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1910417_1910419_1910458,00.html
You have nothing to fear from the Oz.
Bonnie, I like your drive and determination, and I agree with most of what you have written.
I do think we all need to move from debating, to action. It is very rare to get a group of people to agree on all facets of an issue. But that is not really necessary. All we need are people who can agree on some narrowly defined courses of action. But right now I am not seeing that.
As far was where you and I differ, in one of your earlier articles you distance anti-psychiatry from Laing and Estherson’s “Sanity, Madness, and the Family”. Well I think that is a mistake. That is a towering work and it is just as important as Politics of Experience. And then likewise with D. G. Cooper’s “Death of the Family”. As I see it, that is the prototype for Deleuze and Guattari’s “Anti-Oedipus”. It is every bit as important as Cooper’s “Psychiatry and Anti-Psychiatry”.
And then you say you want support for families. I think you are projecting your own bias onto these situations. The Family is the altar we use to sacrifice children on, just like with Isaac and the Daughter of Jephthah. You show me someone who’s life has revolved around the mental health system, maybe around street drugs and alcohol too, and maybe around prison, poverty, and homelessness. You show me such a person and I’ll show you someone who would be doing very well if only their parent(s) had wanted them to be.
I say it is wrong to try and look at this all from a Libertarian Anti-Government perspective, because all that does is support property rights, and this is where the problem starts.
You are right though, very right to compare the situation to U.S. Slavery, despite the views of some other MIA Authors. But it is not really psychiatry which makes it like slavery, it is The Family, the middle-class family, that which creates this problem, makes children into property.
So while the government is indeed evil, of the main manifestations of this is that it backs up and draws power from, the middle-class family.
Nomadic, You make some excellent points about families. I think it must be remembered the family we so cherish today and in some cases, base “family values” is a recent “institution.” I know we colloquially like to call it the “nuclear family.” The government statisticians determine as a mother, a father, and two children. We did not have families such as these until after WWII and the nuclear bombing we did to Japan; hence, the “nuclear.” But this really is not “normal’ (I honestly dislike the word, “normal” but I am at a loss for the correct word.) Before WWII, the “extended family” was the “norm” with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, all living nearby. Other cultures, like the Native American, still respect this type of family and much of the “child rearing” is not only done by the parents, but other family members. This is helpful as the child receives many different perspectives from those who have his or her best interests at heart. Nowadays, many children of the “millennial” generation are being raised by the grandparents, but most of the time, the parents and grandparents are estranged from each other. Drugs, both legal and illegal are part of the problem. They have brought to the forefront the “opiod” problem, but we wait for the full extent of the truth to be brought to the public considering the toxic psych drug problem. MIA is a very good start and our stories, also.
I think nuclear has more to do with the family supposedly revolving around the husband/father, who is considered the “nucleus.”
Rebel, I agree with you. What it really is is the middle-class family. Unlike anything which has ever existed. More than anything else, it comes down to people having children by choice, instead of it just happening. And they do this to increase their social status, while the commercial sector propagates sentimentality.
The sell pedagogy manual after pedagogy manual, all instructions on how to use children, while saying it is for the good of the child.
The middle-class lives in bad faith, people do not live up to their own values, they do not admit that they have choices. And the people this falls upon are the children. Today, children are the exploited workers, being used to provide social identity for their parents.
And when there is conflict, call in the psychiatrists and Psychotherapists.
We need to be solving these problems in courts of law, starting with a prohibition on disinheriting ones child, as the rest of the industrialized world has.
Psychiatry, Modern AMA Medicine ( Certainly the insurance covered modalities available to the majority of people) the toxic drug manufacturing cartel , the government , the brain washing media , are conducting some kind of hybrid ,physical, chemical ,heavy metal, biological ,electronic ,electrical , information FUBARing, WAR AGAINST TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY AMONG THE POPULATION ! Profits being made at every turn and ratcheted action without consideration or acknowledgement of the human suffering caused has become routine . ANTI-PSYCHIATRY is not enough, but still I am encouraged by this blog . Only an awakened population together can overcome this man made for profit tragedy.
Thanks Bonnie for brining kindness
I am still all over the place with a sitting spot but we do need a coalition.
Once concern I have heard is what to do with traumatized folks if there is no other structure- a good point
We are forced to build up and tear down at the same time which is not the best strategy
But getting folks together is so important and maybe having folks be members of a lot of groups whether it is the best fit or not
Getting other patients from other areas is important
Fear is something that needs to be discussed and supports in some way put in shape
This is not 40 years ago.
The barriers around and in the Capitol are there and the guarding is there.
40 years ago one could easily catch a hearing or visit a senator
Protest gatherings can equal harm to some folks unless it has a veneer of societal acceptence right or wrong as that maybe.
Even Saul Alinsky would only take on projects that had a 75 percent chance of winning
Based on that we need to work with other voices
work on implementing new supports and aids for folks in trouble and then do the end work
Talking to ourselves despite getting support is too loop like.
I am glad Bonnie had folks come out to listen to her talk and that should be one method we all should do
Also take time to talk back about Carrie Fischer’s death.
All media sources need to hear our viewpoint
Join Talk Up and Allow others their view if it helps move things on
We don’t have the luxury of infighting within our life experience
Let’s just do what we all can
And hopefully we can coalesce
Also take time to talk back about Carrie Fischer’s death.
Sure this wasn’t your main point but — We do need to discuss how to handle the phenomenon of celebrities becoming poster children for “mental illness” and using their often enormous influence to mislead people into the psychiatric lair. We should have an attitude of “You have a right to subject yourself to the practices and ideology of psychiatry, but it is irresponsible to encourage others to do the same when you clearly have no understanding of the potentially life-destroying dangers of doing so.”
Btw internal discussion and debate should not necessarily be considered “infighting.”
Agree with your comments regarding Carrie Fisher. Was her heart attack related to her ingestion of “bipolar drug cocktails” and rounds of ECT and “maintenance” ECT? Quite possibly.
It is awful that Fisher, with all her fame, promoted brain damaging ECT as something wonderful and useful. I bought into her narrative and that of the famous Sherwin Nuland. The end result for me? Brain damage. Cognitive dysfunction. Memory Loss. An inability to form new memories. Loss of history and identity.A desire to end my life. How many other desperate, vulnerable people listened to the crap they wrote or verbalized, only to have their lives completely ruined?
Wow. So this isn’t just theoretical. Don’t know if you’re into “going public” and wouldn’t try to persuade you to do so, but that sort of personal testimony could be powerful.
I didn’t even know about the ECT part, just what I saw on the evening news.
No, it is not just theoretical. About “going public” in the hopes “that sort of personal testimony could be powerful”? No, it doesn’t appear to be. Did Linda Andres’ going public and writing a damning indictment about ECT lead to any change? No. Did the wrenching written and spoken personal testimonies of about 1200 victims of ECT presented to the FDA in Jan., 2011 lead to a ban? Nope.
Has Mary Maddock’s story of ECT harms influenced change? Will the personal testimonies of the 2500 or so “survivors” and families of survivors sent to the FDA in 2016 (with the intent of stopping downgrading of ECT devices to Class II for certain indications) actually lead to stronger regulations, actual testing of the devices (which had never been done), or, as any thinking, feeling, reasonable, intelligent, compassionate, and educated
individual should vote for, a complete ban of this torture device and human rights violation?? Doubtful.
Individuals like Lauren Tenney, Bonnie Burstow, John Breeding, and Peter Breggin have written and campaigned vociferously and logically and eloquently and continuously against this lunatic fucking practice. Has it changed anything? Will it one day? We need more people; we need acts of disobedience; we need a revolution.
Thank-you Oldhead for all your posts. I find gems in all of them.
And Bonnie, wonderful article. I admire everything you do as you work to see the abolition of psychiatry.
Actually I do see a renewed and growing anti-psychiatry consciousness and I think we’ll see it manifesting even more over the coming year. We do need more people but actually the people are already here, we just need to be collectively a little bolder.
One difference between the examples you mention and this is that those people were challenging psychiatric practice, and in this case it involves challenging those who have been recruited to promote it, and imploring them to consider the real life consequences of their actions for real people such as yourself. They presumably want to believe they’re helping people. Of course you don’t have to use your real name to expose this; I hear some people here use pseudonyms. 🙂 (Also theoretically anyone can cut & paste posts such as yours onto other sites, etc.)
“Actions speak louder than words, but not nearly so often.” Mark Twain said that. I think it is a good idea to think of the long haul ahead of us (Nelson Mandela did 27 years in jail), and yet not get discouraged. (He also became president of South Africa.) When there is a renewed and growing anti-psychiatry consciousness, I would expect to see more and more anti-psychiatry actions. I guess this expectation should give us something to look forward to in 2017, and beyond. Nobody’s pinky exercises, in other words, are going to get the work done that needs to be done. That’s up to us.
yes, I recall her doing that, which is why I stayed away from the various comments about her in the last little while. So sorry about what happened to you, Truth. And yes, Oldhead, we need to speak back to celebrities becoming “poster children” for the “mental health” message.
I am committed to helping the world become a more supportive, nurturing, inclusive, and joyous place to live, promoting music, the arts, and new perspectives and explorations on what it means to be human.
I also will continue to speak up about social bullying and counter it with unconditional kindness toward others.
In addition, I will continue to teach about self-healing.
Hopefully, one day, this will add up to the world realizing that there really is no need at all for any of this–psychiatry and the like. All we really need is to be a much, much, much, much healthier society. And by “healthier,” I mean one in which people are not annihilating each other on a daily basis, one way or another, either physically, emotionally, or spiritually, but instead, at least respecting each other.
Can you imagine the blow psychiatry would take if people actually treated each other with kindness and respect? There’d be no need for “mental health” anything! We’d actually be at peace, if we can even imagine such a thing.
That’s my vision. Thanks, as always, Bonnie, for your commitment to global well-being. Happy New Year to all!
This is a wonderful list of resolutions, however, this website does not actually advocate change. Rather, it is primarily about venting about the problem. I am a psychotherapist who suggested a blog on a new system of conceptualizing “mental health” that has been very well reviewed by those in the anti-psychiatry field, including one blogger at MIA. Yet I was told that because I was a mental health professional my ideas would be viewed with hostility by readers of this website and my blog was rejected. If reasonable, evidence-based suggestions to replace the DSM are rejected out of hand because they come from someone with a degree, then good luck with your revolution! Many successful revolutionaries worked within the constraints of the system and enlisted those on the inside. “Blowing up the system” is rarely effective or successful.
I’m sorry that you feel that way, there are many people who are mental health professionals and/or have degrees who have, a) been published on MIA and b) comment on articles on MIA. Not all are viewed with a friendly eye but my experience has been that all comers, except those who indulge in personal abuse, get a fair hearing.
I agree that many successful revolutions, or perhaps, reforms, HAVE come from within systems, but this depends on a degree of willingness to contemplate reform on the part of those within the system. IN the case of psychiatry, however, there is no evidence of any kind of willingness to address reform.
You say that `blowing up the system’ is rarely effective or successful, but in fact historically, it has very frequently been both. Machiavelli records that, `conspiracies conducted by a handful of men acting secretly invariably meet tragic ends, Open revolts involving large numbers of people do not.’ and cites the overthrow of the Duke of Athens. The Irish, French and Russian revolutions, the Suffragette movement, and the rise of unions all blew up the system, and were `successful’ in creating permanent change. Whether you agree that the change was necessarily for the better is a matter of opinion, but many would claim that the old tyrants were worse than the new ones and in some cases, such as the vote for women, and protection for workers, the consequences are at the core of human rights in our society today.
So we hope it will be for the anti psychiatry movement.
This is the sort of dismissive name calling that I am talking about and will not be helpful in generating supporters to your cause. Fortunately, I have a very thick skin, but not all others do and will quickly abandon any support if this is the type of reaction they are going to get. I will not apologize for supporting facts, truth and science of evidence-based practices. How will such a revolution decide on the appropriate responses to psychiatry if not by science? By the roll of a dice? By popular vote? Why should we not use science to help those who suffer with emotional distress? Serious, why not? Sure, the DSM and the disease model of “mental health” are not based on facts or evidence, but there is no reason to dismiss science because of that.
There are a lot of books that deal well with the science and show that all of it is faulty. My recommendation Harper, would be to read some of these and you may glean a better idea of why people are responding as they are.
This is the sort of dismissive name calling that I am talking about and will not be helpful in generating supporters to your cause.
Dismissive, yes. Name calling, no. What “name” did I call you? “Professional”?
Anyway, thanks for the tactical advice. I’m sure it was heartfelt.
This is to Harper West with all the initials by her name. I have no initials at the end of my name and I feel just fine. How about you? Sometimes, it is when the system is “blown-up” things really do change for the better. Perhaps, the best example is in Religious History. All you need do is remember we are celebrating the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Posting of his Ninety-Five Thesis on the church doors at the Wittenberg Church in Germany. He basically blew up the system, so now, in Western Christianity, we have the Protestant Churches and the Catholic churches. This also in turn affected for better or worse, the settling of the Americas by the Europeans. And, again I go to Germany much more recently. This is the late 1980’s; when the young and older people caused Germany to no longer be an Eastern Communist and a Western Capitalist System; but a unified Germany, well suited to the modern age. And then in our own country, think of how a group of Baby Boomer young people, college students, high school students and a little older “rocked” the system with their protests and caused the end of the Vietnam War. Oh yes, there is the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, the AIDS Movement, Gay Rights, Women’s Liberation, etc. All of these movements had their good and not so good points, but all “blew up the system” in some way and caused change. So, I say yes, Let us “blow up the system!” It works! And, it is way overdue, don’t you think?
Thank you Bonnie; this is a great post! I believe that psychiatry will pass with a death by a thousand blows; your post encourages each person to their best action rather than feel hopeless to conform to an agenda.
Like Oldhead, it is refreshing to hear you voice an anti-psychiatry perspective of “mental illness” as a myth rather than an anti-psychiatry perspective of a medical field needing reform from over-prescribing.
Best wishes, Steve
Hi, just a note: “an anti-psychiatry perspective of a medical field needing reform from over-prescribing” would not be an “anti-psychiatry” perspective, it would be a “rethinking psychiatry” perspective. But I’m glad it matters to you.
I meant a medical field needing reform consistent with the Wikipedia definition of “anti-psychiatry” and consistent with most of the bloggers at this website. Only a minority of “anti-psychiatrists” believe that “mental illness” is a myth.
I would differ. Wikipedia’s entry on this is totally bogus; as I said before I suspect it was largely written by “consumer movement” shills. We define our own terms. If one believes in “mental illness” one accepts the basic premise of psychiatry, which is that such a thing exists. Most of the bloggers here are not truly anti-psychiatry, with some prominent exceptions. Possibly a slight majority of the commenters are.
The chief distinction between critical psychiatry and anti-psychiatry is that critical psychiatry credits “mental illness” with a certain amount of “reality”, and anti-psychiatry doesn’t do so. To rephrase: critical psychiatry says “mental illness is real”, anti-psychiatry says “mental illness is not real”.
Critical psychiatry is highly critical of bio-psychiatry, that psychiatry which would attribute psychiatric conditions mainly to biology. Anti-psychiatry however sees psychiatry (the study and treatment, etc., of “mental illness”) as bogus science.
Critical psychiatry is reformist, anti-psychiatry is abolitionist.
The state uses psychiatry to maintain the status quo, and to keep certain people down. Overthrow them both, and “marginalized” people are no longer “marginalized”.
No room for reply above, but everything you stated resonates very strongly with me. Especially “direct action”, “Destroy the FUCKING MACHINES (of torture)”, and “revolution” rather than writing, writing, writing, playing nice. Why is there no support for this type of strategy?
Obviously there will never be justice through the law; no law firms willing to fight for this cause; no credibility for “crazy people” who probably “needed” ECT.
Where does MIA stand on this human rights abuse when it is willing to give space to articles by David Healy, pro-ECT “doctor”?
Perhaps it would be next to impossible to seek a ban on “psychiatric drugs”, but why is the smaller goal of a total ban on electrical lobotomies impossible??
“I will demonstrate for a total ban on ECT—I mean, shooting electricity through a person’s skull—like, what the fuck?”
“like” ? Vulgarity? What the heck, Bonnie?
Vulgarity? The vulgarity is in damaging the delicate, amazing brains of vulnerable people with ECT.
We should be “polite” about this and say- “what the heck”? You have to be kidding. That is what you focus on??
Not meaning to offend you, EliseMaia, and I don’t know if this helps, but as I think about what people are subjected to, there are some obscenities so profound –and I count ECT among them –that a response that is totally polite feels inadequate. Ergo, resolution language which gives voice to that.
Absolutely. Just as, I believe, the term “motherfucker” originated with slave rape. What’s the nice term for that?
I want most of the things which Bonnie wants. And I do believe that when parents are open and honest about their own failings, that there should be outside support.
But I also want:
1. Taking down a Psychiatrist, criminal case or large civil suit.
2. Taking down a Psychotherapist, criminal case or large civil suit.
3. Unhorsing a Religious Recovery or Mental Health Program, law enforcement intervention.
4. Law suit against County Mental Health or Social Services.
5. Criminal case against Abusive Parent(s).
6. Law suit or estate challenge against Abusive Parent(s).
Now who is with me on these?
If we don’t at least try, then we are yet more of the Survivors who have decided that they can avoid their own pain, and sometimes even earn a living, by abusing other Survivors.
If we talk about Healing, then we are just saying that people who have been denied social legitimacy and have been marginalized, are themselves the source of the problem.
It is just the survivors of abuse abusing other survivors.
The way to restore social legitimacy is not Healing, it is by engaging in principled conflict and kicking some ass.
We should never have any programs which press people to accept a mental health interpretation of their own life. That would always be wrong, and would always be legitimate cause for a lawsuit.
“To separate the deserving from the undeserving… and to do so by creating a stigma attached to those they consider undeserving. It is very similar to Psychiatry. The moment you introduce Psychiatry, remember Michel Foucault, and the story about the madhouse, you create a narrative of reason and unreason, you create a power structure. The person who has the certificate to be the Psychiatrist decides who is sane and who has the right to be a free citizen.”
Yanis Varoufakis: Basic Income is a Necessity
Stop collaborating with the mental health system, stop being an Uncle Tom. Please join and move from nonsense talk to action:
Nomadic: You are right. We need not to force anyone to accept that they are mentally ill and I am say just such a radical rebel, I would we should not press anyone in to saying they have a physical illness. We have become a nation of diagnosed people who need to have their lives maintained by outside authorities (i.e. the medical/psychiatric industry.) One of the complications of any health care system in our nations, probably the whole “Western world” is this tendency to see us not as wholesome and healthy; but, as sick and needing of some sort of treatment. We are terribly entrenched; but we will get out. However, we must realize that to fight the psychiatrists, we must fight the entire health care industry as it stands. This is a fight we will win. But, unlike other fights, it will take more than protests, write-ins and call-ins to congressmen, and the usual methods. It starts with each one of us at a personal level. It is our choice. It is how we view ourselves. The most important thing for each one of us to do other than what we are doing is to say NO to absolutely anything that does not resonate with the truth of ourselves. Psychiatry tried to continue the process of schools, religion, and other institutions, they tried to steal our souls. What is the most insidious about this is how they did it with toxic drugs and toxic treatments that just compounded our pain and made us into real zombies; all the time lying to us and saying they were our friends. They saw an opening in our souls and swooped into fill it with their toxicity in so many forms. The most radical thing we can do each morning is look in the mirror and say it’s okay to be – no matter who you are. Psychiatrists tried to tell me I was defective; I had a diagnosis, a disease. HOGWASH! I am just a unique human being with unique gifts and talents, a unique personality and interests. In pure psychological terminology, they were trying to project their feelings of being defective on me. I woke up! I day not just no; but HELL NO! Take that psychiatry. I am me and damn proud of it!
“This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.” – Plato