A New Paradigm for Psychiatry: Answering the Call from the UN


In Robert Whitaker’s article from last December, “INTAR 2016: A Global Call for a New Paradigm” he wrote that by the end of the conference, this gathering of representatives from the World Health Organization, the United Nations, and the International Disability Alliance had “embraced a common thought: a new global health narrative was needed, one that could replace the failed ‘medical model’ that dominates mental health today.”

This call for a new paradigm reflects the awareness that the paradigm of pharmaceutical psychiatry, brought to you by the APA and the pharmaceutical companies, has failed. I have blogged extensively that these beliefs are not only ineffective and wrong, they are harmful, corrupt, and scientifically bankrupt. They will go the way of all false promises. Once biochemical psychiatry is discarded, which will inevitably happen, and is happening now, what will we be left with? What will replace it?

Pharmaceutical psychiatry replaced the older, psychoanalytic model. There have been many gifted analytic therapists – illuminating writers like Fairbairn, Winnicott, and Harry Stack Sullivan – as well as important understandings about attachment. And there have been many excellent teachers. Nonetheless, psychoanalytic theories are off-base, Byzantine, incomprehensible, and significantly wrong (I have also written extensively about these problems). Psychoanalytic theories had become dehumanizing and reductionistic, perpetuating a ‘we-they’ dynamic that violated the essential respect and care for our patients.

I have been a practicing psychiatrist for forty-three years. During this time I have dedicated myself to my craft: intensive psychotherapy. I am not a recovering pharmacological psychiatrist. I have been opposed to psychiatric drugs my entire career. Over time, a new paradigm for psychiatry has coalesced.

Such a paradigm needs to explain human struggle and how and why suffering occurs. It requires an appropriate treatment approach that heals pain and shows why and how it works. It needs to be consonant with contemporary neuroscience, and to be comprehensive regarding human behavior. The approach I will describe is consistent with the nature of consciousness itself, with the neuroscience of the brain, with child development, human relatedness, and attachment.

The theory is ‘The play of consciousness in the theater of the brain.’ The treatment is ‘The psychotherapy of character.’ Consciousness is organized as a living drama in the theater of the brain. This ‘play’ is a representational world that consists of a cast of characters, who relate together by feeling, as well as scenarios, plots, set designs and landscape. It is how the brain represents reality and how consciousness is organized in the brain.

All psychiatric symptoms come from plays that are written as a result of deprivation and abuse, i.e., trauma. They are not biochemical. Trauma can be generated by abusive or depriving parents, sexual abuse, physical abuse, bullies, loss, deaths, separations, divorce, war experience, etc. Through later trauma, we write new plays which can override the original one, and generate a darker play. This then becomes our new prism through which we experience the world.

Psychotherapy is the process by which one mourns the pain of trauma, allowing for a new play to be written that is grounded in authenticity and love. Psychotherapy must honor the inviolable boundaries of respect in order for it to be safe for the necessary explorations of pain, abuse, deprivation, and love. Within the safe emotional holding of the therapeutic relationship, the patient is able to mourn his problematic play. Symptoms and suffering reflect an adaptation to a toxic emotional environment. Psychotherapy generates a literal rewriting of the play in the brain. This is the process by which real brain change actually takes place.

Of course, everything is processed biochemically in the brain. But this is just mechanistic. A problematic emotional adaptation gets altered by the processes of psychotherapy which is then reflected in the brain. Psychiatric symptoms are not brain diseases. Depression is not a chemical imbalance generated in the synapses between neurons. Chemicals do not cause depression.

We need to give special attention to the psychotic worlds: paranoid schizophrenia, catatonia, hebephrenia, schizo-affective schizophrenia, manic-depression and paranoid state. I will quote from my book:

“In the psychotic worlds, there is an additional disruptive dimension to deprivation, abuse. In the context of major emotional deprivation, the damage to these plays derives from an unmanageable limbic nuclear rage. The cortex cannot encompass this powerful rage in a cohesive way. It fragments the cohesion of the intactness of the play itself and the intactness of the self persona. When the self and its primal play flies apart, it generates a state of terror, the dimensions of which are far more powerful than regular anxiety. This terror/rage is the central characteristic of all of the psychotic character worlds. It is the worst and most unbearably frightening state of all potential human experience.

Although the self and the plays are fragmented, consciousness continues its ongoing process of neuronal mapping, reflecting this new experience. Consequently, the cortical imagination now writes new plays that are anchored in this limbic rage/terror experience. Disrupted plays of a fragmented self and terror-filled feeling and other-worldly plots are written and inhabited. The feeling of these other-worldly plays are captured by words like awe, dread, or horror. There is an another tragic feature of schizophrenia—the Humpty-Dumpty factor.”

Often, once the plays and the self are fractured, they cannot fully be put back together again. This can lead to chronic states with some disability.

As a result of the fragmentation, what would be regular thoughts in an intact play are experienced as literal, heard voices in the plays of paranoid schizophrenia. These auditory hallucinations are given form by the cortical imagination, as voices of other-worldly figures who generate terror and awe, or command voices.

In manic depression, the central feature is that limbic feeling cannot be contained by the ruptured play. It spins out of control without limits. Manic flights of feeling should not to be romanticized. A patient in a manic psychosis can be quite humorous in his early mood-elevated phases. It feels ebullient. Like all mood states, it is contagious, and manic people make us laugh. It, however, always escalates out of control, and, in its final and inevitable form, shows itself to be a terror/rage state.

Manic-depression is now called bipolar, which I consider to be dehumanizing and mechanistic, like two poles of a battery. Mania is a very serious and debilitating psychotic character world, which always generates some disintegration of the personality and results in repeated hospitalizations throughout life.

Not medicating a patient with schizophrenia in today’s world sounds like a novel event, a new movement. But it is not. There has only been drugging since the 1950’s. Schizophrenia has been with us always. There has been a great deal of experience with the psychotherapy of schizophrenia. One of the best approaches came from Harry Stack Sullivan at Chestnut Lodge. He took the treatment outside of the medical model and created a respectful and safe environment, where people could have psychotherapy in a caring manner. I have written about Geel, a town in Belgium where for centuries the townsfolk adopted individuals with schizophrenia to live out their lives as respected members of their families. Also keep in mind that there is an acceptance that there is often some disability present.

Another important piece of knowledge that has been lost due to drug psychiatry is that when a patient presents with an extremely acute and flagrant psychosis, this ordinarily predicts a good recovery. It is counterintuitive that a longer term, quieter, chronic psychosis is actually more problematic. It used to be old news that people can recover from a first break and do very well. Old knowledge has been lost.

Psychotherapy of the psychotic worlds is no different from psychotherapy with anybody else. There are times where a judicious use of drugs may help people in a state of terror and fragmentation. But even with a potential use of drugs, drugs are never the treatment. Psychotherapy is the treatment. The writing of the play is trauma-based, and the trauma needs to be mourned. I do not pretend to have the final answer as to why the play gets fragmented. There may or may not be some kind of genetic susceptibility. To be clear, I am absolutely saying that schizophrenia is not a brain disease. It is a human process. I have been through this journey with people many times. We need to respect and reach, care and engage in a purely human way.

The play of consciousness is a unified field theory which not only includes psychiatry, it is consistent with neuroscience (as it must be), dreams, myths, religion, and art. The ‘play’ encompasses the ineffable human mysteries – birth, death, and the disparity between our ordinary sense of self and our intimation of a deeper authenticity. It includes, as well, the dark side of our nature. Human consciousness and human nature are one and the same. The creation of our inner play by the brain is the consummation of our Darwinian human evolution. This universal paradigm reflects a consonance of science and art.

I suggest that this paradigm needs to be the foundation of all the helping professions: psychiatry, psychology, social work and others. We should dedicate our resources to this enterprise. What is important is the quality of the practitioner, not his degree. The medical model is not germane. The education of therapists should be done on a mass scale to meet the needs of our society. From beginning to end, all of psychiatry is a human process, nothing more and nothing less.


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.


  1. Robert

    Your call for “A New Paradigm for Psychiatry” provides absolutely NO justification for the continuation of Psychiatry as a medical specialty in today’s world.

    Your theory of “the play of consciousness in the theater of the brain” has great merit as one way to explain severe psychological distress. I have no doubt you are a very good therapist who has helped many people overcome enormous problems coping with a very unjust world.

    But where is your scientific rationale for keeping Psychiatry as a medical specialty when the essence of what you do in the real word is “therapy,” and also the construction of well thought out therapeutic theories for how best to work with people in distress?

    Since you agree that there are no brain “diseases” and the Medical Model is absolutely wrong when looking at ways of analyzing and providing support for people in distress, why hold on to the credential of Psychiatry/MD? Doesn’t the very existence of the MD moniker mislead people as to what you do and perpetuate the belief that these are “medical” problems that you are addressing in therapy?

    Yes, while Biological Psychiatry is the worst of Psychiatry on steroids, our Grandmother’s Psychiatry several decades ago was also quite oppressive when we look at the existence of lobotomies, Electro-shock, and other oppressive forms of “treatment” that people were subjected to. You even agree that psychoanalysis, which was more prevalent among psychiatrists in this period, also had its serious problems.

    One of best ways to proceed in a current movement to end ALL forms of psychiatric abuse is for activist doctors to declare Psychiatry THE SCIENTIFIC AND MEDICAL FRAUD that it TRULY IS in the real world.

    Robert, you could play a much more powerful role in this movement if you, as a psychiatrist with the MD moniker, would renounce the complete legitimacy of your profession as a medical specialty and sacrifice all the power and financial benefits that go with it.

    This would make a very important statement to the world that could potentially change many people’s thinking on the true nature and oppressive role of Psychiatry. And actually, this act of courage and defiance would provide a much STRONGER AND POWERFUL BASIS to promote your highly creative and useful theories of providing supportive therapy for those experiencing extremes forms of psychological distress.

    Respectfully, Richard

    • Wow. Thanks Richard, you saved me a lot of writing. There is no need for a “new paradigm” for a field with no justification for its very existence. Also glad to see that you concur that so-called “biological psychiatry” is just a matter of degree; ECT (and beatings as a cure for “drapetomania”) are pretty “biological” too if you’re on the receiving end.

      Dr. Berezin’s conceptualizations may be useful and valuable for some; they would be more useful if they were divorced from the psychiatric mindset and all pretensions to “medicine.” And the psychiatric terms need to go too.

    • I think the real problems psychiatrists have to solve are these two fictions, that their power to imprison patients is benign, and the fiction that they can simultaneously provide effective treatment.
      Unless the treating psychiatrist is the one advocating for the outcome their patient wants, and not the one signing the incarceration papers, I agree – there is little hope that psychiatry can survive. And in any case, to survive it will need to redirect the clinical gaze both vertically and horizontally. But I do see this happening more frequently in many trainees.

  2. “Chemicals do not cause depression.” What about the instances when they do? As in taking accutane causing severe depression or antidepressants causing severe anxiety and depression? Peter Gotszche has stated these drugs create dangerous imbalances in the brain that were non-existent before their ingestion. Then what? This “depression” is then biologically or chemically created and may have triggered permanent changes in the brain. It may be drug trauma but how would it respond to psychotherapy?

  3. NO, ALL psychiatric symptoms DO NOT come from deprivation/abuse/trauma. That is simply a sweeping, overreaching, dangerous generalization.

    Also, Integrative nutrition and neurology show that that many ‘moods’, behaviours, and states of mind are indeed based in body biochemistry. There are issues that we have previously called ‘psychiatric’ that can be helped or remedied through diet, herbal/vitamin ‘therapy’, exercise, mind/body work (eg. yoga, qigong), a change in gut and intestinal flora, ‘energy medicine’, and even sometimes antibiotics.

    Talk therapy is great in theory, but in my experience – and regrettably – it’s too expensive for most, and not effectively delivered by most practitioners.

    Liz Sydney

    • Liz. He isn’t familiar with biological therapies that are actually based on biological reality, such as the various orthomolecular treatments that his profession has kept secret from him in its effort to suppress heretical thought. The old megavitamin therapy’s been around for about 65 years, as has fasting therapy for cerebral allergies. Thyroid for recurring catatonic episodes got its start around 60 years ago. I should be worried about telling you this, as I’ll be executed for witchcraft or sorcery in the Brave New Psychiatric World. Or maybe just scheduled for an infinite daily series of bilateral ECT.

    • Liz, Please try to understand that it is not what you (or society) gives that identifies the trauma – it is what the individual themselves takes. My mother was not aware that doing what society expected of her as a mother caused serious harm to her children. The abuse was completely hidden behind the societal norms of the time. That was the infant raising paradigm that the child, from birth was not to be played with for more than 10 minutes a day, that it was to be left alone to cry for hours at a time and only fed every four hours, among other strict restrictions. Mothers who violated these rules were severely castigated and shamed by infant welfare nurses. The outcome of such treatment led to entire generations of emotionally crippled people who have no idea why because it happened before language was available to identify their intense feelings of loss, vulnerability and emotional inadequacy. When such early emotional deprivation was later accompanied by other, more obvious abuse, loss and trauma, serious mental disturbance finds fertile soil. Your own statement is actually another `sweeping, overreaching, dangerous generalization’. Anything with physiological causes actually belongs in general medicine, or alternative medicine/healing, not psychiatry.

  4. I’m confused by much of Dr. Berezin’s post. We are expected to believe his blanket statements that all psychiatric ailments spring from trauma because he describes how the brain responds to trauma. One doesn’t follow from the other, even if a psychiatrist says so. We are in the realm of speculative thinking, not science. I share his appreciation for psychotherapy, but then what are we supposed to make of his view of Geel, a place where ‘schizophrenics’ appear to be warehoused to live out their lives “as respected members of their families. Also keep in mind that there is an acceptance that there is often some disability present.” What does that mean? The presence of a disabilty sounds biologically linked. What role does psychotherapy play in the lives of these ‘disabled respected members of the Geel family’? Dr. Berezin appears to believe that people don’t recover from schizophrenia if they don’t recover immediately. Who are his patients? The worried well? Long term schizophrenic people with no hope of recovery? It seems that to many if not all psychiatrists, care of the patient is best outsourced to a professional or professional townsfolk, but I’m getting the the sinking feeling that for those with schizophrenia, there is no hope beyond the first episode. If I have totally misreprented what Dr. Berezin is saying, I’d love to be set straight.

    • The Mental Health Service in Geel runs a normal acute inpatient ward on the main hospital campus, and more than 200 hundred families in the region are still fostering people form the hospital when needed, and this has been going on since the 15th Century! The original 4 bed hospital with its chapel from then is now a fascinating museum.

  5. I have long thought that acting classes might do a world of wonder for some of those who ‘don’t know how to act’, or as one could put it, for those who “act out”, however acting also flies in the face of the idea of authenticity, a concept I think perhaps over-rated in the first place. What better reason for learning to act a little than being stuck in the muck of an impoverished authenticity? Outside of his or her element, if somebody else has determined what that is, a person might be much better off.

    • I think I remember Judi Chamberlin defining “acting out” as shrink talk for “acting up.” This was before the AIDS group ACT UP was formed. MPLF in Boston briefly had a publication called “Acting Out.” It could be said that the ranks of the psychiatrized are full of untalented actors who couldn’t perform their assigned roles.

      • It’s demeaning to call people untalented, and that without training and a trial run. I just don’t believe that it is true. Part of the problem is that the entertainment industry is a matter of corporate enterprises that would hold a monopoly on talent. Talent is so much about the marketing of talent that if you’re an artist, and you don’t pick up on that one thing, you’re totally off the grid. Untalented is a lack of marketing ability really. How did Vincent van Gogh, for instance, get to Sotheby’s? One can only make a long story short of that one. I’m not of the opinion that he got there because of the large number of untalented Vincents there are in the world, but that is, in a sense, the view put forward to the rest of us by the corporate owned mass media. A corporate owned mass media peddling to the populace’s infatuation with the idea of ‘celebrity’.

        I find a lot of appeal to your last sentence above. I think it could also be said that perhaps we have a great many actors who have an unrecognized talent in not performing their assigned roles. What to do with them? Whoosh! Out of sight/out of mind, or ‘institutionalized’. Certainly, there are better things we could be doing with these, albeit unrecognized, talented people.

          • Okay. We see things differently, you and me, OldHead. I’m not discouraging anybody from pursuing that talent that cuts against the grain. Who acts the way society expects/demands? A conformist. (If not a dullard/simpleton.) I’m not peddling blind conformity and obedience. Troubling can be a complement.

          • I can’t tell if we disagree on something or not as I can’t figure out what you’re trying to say. Offhand I don’t see anything you just posted that I would disagree with, or anything I said that you would disagree with.

  6. Dr. Berezin:

    Thank for you this article, which is more concise than your previous articles and a good introduction for someone who is unfamiliar with your approach. It may offer some sanctuary for individuals who are fleeing from the medical model but I suspect most of your clients are privileged and it is too academic to be of use to families like ours. Still, your outspokenness may be able to encourage some younger psychiatrists to practice differently. Most clients in the community mental health system are like my daughter: stuck in the default, one-size-fits-all public system because of their lack of privilege or because their behavior or adverse drug reactions were criminalized, in which case, no private psychiatrist will take their case. A slow trickle down method of reforming psychiatry ‘from within’ is not enough to turn the tide for the unfortunate tsunami of people who are at risk of being tortured and killed in today’s system. We need a full fledged revolution.

    I am happy to report that my adult daughter, home at last after seven years of institutionalization, read your article in entirety and had a favorable response. She said that your ideas represent “a truth that would like to be recognized” She also noted that it is not as “anti psychiatry” as some of the other articles on this site. Presumably this makes it safer for her.

    My daughter is very much on the radar of the community mental health workers and because of this, she is particularly at risk of having her freedom taken away. For her, cooperating with her psychiatrist is not so much of a choice as a survival tactic. In the public system there is a dearth of providers who believe in alternatives; the medical model reigns supreme, N.A.M.I. reinforces the status quo, and human rights abuses are rampant. In my daughter’s world, my daughter has to cow-tow to ‘professionals’ who would laugh at this article.

    Even closed-door allies, administrators and providers who secretly laud your approach plod to work everyday and have no desire to upset the apple cart; they allay their guilt by saying “Once I am retired, I will speak out. For now, this approach is too ‘impractical’. A psychotherapeutic approach in which a highly educated professional is tasked with developing a relationship with someone at the rate of $300/hour will never find a home in the system under which I work. I have to move massive amounts of people through this pipeline”.

    My daughter ironically lost herself in the wilderness of our mental health system as a young adult; she may have remained unscathed had she received appropriate talk therapy or other helpful support in her adolescence. Unfortunately, once she was labeled and involuntarily committed, her spirited resistance led to psychiatric abuse and cover-up. Psychiatric abuse is a unique form of trauma that you do not list on your list of trauma, unless you consider psychiatric abuse to be non-existent or to fall under the broad umbrella of ‘loss’. One cannot underestimate the harm caused by loss of human liberty, loss of agency, loss of control, etc. Imagine my daughter’s trauma of being forced to ingest high doses of a medication that causes her to become incontinent, then while she sit through a commitment hearing when she is talked about by a judge, public defense attorney and psychiatrist who are all chummy, describing their mutual fly fishing trips, make indirect references to the urine on my daughter’s hospital gown as ‘evidence’ of her grave illness for they happily recommit her to involuntary care where she will continue to be forcibly medicated in perpetuity.

    For years, my daughter was a lone voice in the wilderness, crying futilely for her right to live a “drug free lifestyle” without any help or support from an army of mental health care workers, psychologists, nurses, social workers, and psychiatrists. She would have loved an approach like yours but no such alternative was made available to her.

    Like many psychiatric survivors, she experienced multiple, consecutive involuntary (long-term) psychiatric incarcerations as a result of her ‘non-compliance’ and because her adverse drug reactions were criminalized, trauma was heaped onto trauma via the corrections/justice systems which in collusion with psychiatry in an appalling manner that I thought would only be possible in a totalitarian society.

    During her many long-term hospitalizations, very little if any effort was made by a dizzying parade of doctors and other prescribers to distinguish between symptoms caused by her original trauma (the circumstances that led me to seek support from the mental health system in the first place), the symptoms caused by the compounding of her trauma through such conveyances as restraint, isolation and forced drugging, the psychiatric symptoms caused by adverse drug reactions (high dose polypharmacy) which we hope have not permanently damaged her dopinergic/serotinergic systems, and the symptoms of discontinuation syndrome, from those holidays in which she was able to elope, and in failed attempts to come off the drugs without any support, ended back in the system on even more drugs than ever.

    Anyway, things are getting much better. She is on a fraction of the medication she was forced to take for years and is doing a lot better for it. Despite the modicum of help she got from a psychiatrist to wean off several medications including Thorazine and Haldol, her progress is a testament to her resiliency against torture and abuse, not a testament to psychiatrists ability to change. When asked about her survival she pragmatically claims “My plan is to simply outlive the mental health system”. The level of corruption is so deep, and the outcomes are so bad, the current system of care is unsustainable so in a way, she may have a very viable emanacipation strategy—-just outlive the bastards.

    • She also noted that it is not as “anti psychiatry” as some of the other articles on this site. Presumably this makes it safer for her.

      I’m guessing that she has been taught that some thoughts and opinions are not “safe,” such as being “anti-psychiatry.” This is understandable, particularly if she currently depends on a psychiatrist for her freedom and physical safety; she has likely been warned — either directly or by implication — that being anti-psychiatry is “extreme,” or “throwing the baby out with the bath water,” or unsafe in other ways. It’s important for her to understand that being anti-psychiatry does not mean having antipathy for every individual psychiatrist on a personal level, but rejecting the fraudulent basis on which psychiatry is based. I’m sure you’ll help her with this in due time. For now I’m glad to hear she’s out, which is worth celebrating.

  7. Robert, your prediction depends upon the Survivors of Mental Health, Recovery, and the Middle-Class Family not wising up and learning how to protect themselves:

    1. One psychotherapist, One lawsuit.

    2. Total Non-Compliance under any and all circumstances.

    3. Zero tolerance for pity seeking or Uncle Tomism.

    4. Any Means Necessary, to protect the children of today.

    5. Vigorous Crimes Against Humanity prosecution in the International Courts. Charges can be brought by NGO’s. And local actions to put the mental health system out of business.

    And right now, lets discuss when, where, and how to set up our own forum and then take our first actions.


  8. Psychotherapy is *a* treatment. It is not *the* treatment.

    And in any case drawing so close to another human being — especially during psychosis — only really ever amounts to this other resisting or succumbing in various ways themselves to psychosis.

    All human agency is performative. As our lives becomes ever-more theatricised, so too the performance will be graded in modernist terms, typically from 1-10. Henceforward, there will be a massive increase in so-called DID, ranging from the somewhat appalling (1-3) performances leaving a sickening or at least unsatisfactory impression (40something women mimicking gross apparitions of tiny bewildered children, for example) — as the watching eye becomes ever more prevalent, so too the urge to perform will grow.

    There is always– without exception — something sinister going on with psychotherapists. Given the right conditions that sinisterliness manifests.

  9. Thank you for your community service in challenging mainstream “mental health care.”

    “Such a paradigm needs to explain human struggle and how and why suffering occurs. It requires an appropriate treatment approach that heals pain and shows why and how it works;” I propose a “Social Welfare Model” to replace the “Medical Model.” The “Social Welfare Model” describes mental distress as natural emotional suffering from distressful experiences and from physical ailments, rather than a medical problem of a biological dysfunction. This model describes emotions as understandable physically rather than intellectually. Extreme emotional suffering (from extremely distressful experiences) is perceived by the brain similar to extreme physical pain.

    The theory of a “The play of consciousness in the theater of the brain” describes an intellectual understanding of emotions. Instead, we physically feel the joy of a happy surprise and physically feel the pain of extremely distressful experiences.

    Emotional suffering is the natural, painful reaction to distressful experiences; it is natural, “normal” psychology- natural neurobiology. Most “psychiatric symptoms” misinterpret natural expressions of emotional suffering as a medical problem; psychiatry is a medical science addressing social welfare problems. This misinterpretation of natural psychology causes great social harm.

    There is no treatment for natural emotional suffering beyond time and positive experiences of emotional well-being. In contrast, there is a great deal we can do to prevent trauma in the community by promoting more social justice.

    Best wishes, Steve

  10. I think psychotherapy can be sound and supportive to gain clarity, resolve inner conflicts, and achieve personal growth and evolution. My concern, however, is that it can be so risky for clients. Aside from way better training with a few more perspectives to consider than what is currently offered by the mainstream–which is especially narrow and myopic, imo–there needs to be some kind of checks & balances system to protect the client, who is in the vulnerable position of needing to trust, from mental abuse. Unfortunately, it is common.

    In addition, it is not a stretch to imagine that if one is seeking healing from childhood trauma and wounding, it can easily be repeated in a clinical relationship. It isn’t always transference; sometimes it is for real. And that can easily lead to way more trouble for the client, rather than healing. I believe it’s a common problem, and people suffer because of this–sometimes without even realizing they’re being gaslighted. I feel so strongly that something needs to be checked, here.

  11. This reliance on psychotherapy, and favouring it to drugs is funny to me. To me, it’s even worse than drugs. I would rather take side effectless drugs independent of the psychiatric system, than either go to them for drugs or therapy.

    Truly helping people requires putting your hand in the shit and cleaning it.

    If a man beats the living crap out of his son, or gaslights him, or isolates him or anything else, how will therapy help the kid.

    If you truly wanted to help the kid, you would get out of your office (if you were a mental health worker) and bring the man to justice.

    But nope, instead the when the kid gets into psychiatry, he will get labels, providing only more fodder for the man to gaslight his kid.

    It happens all the time….

    The world needs a Batman like figure. You may find it funny or facetious to read that statement. But to me, it’s true.

    The law doesn’t always bring justice. Sometimes, it imprisons people who were already screwed over to begin with.

    • Labeling an abused and traumatized person, rather than validating their story and reality and understanding that, regardless of anything, it has a root, is gaslighting, and downright cruel. Constant “you” statements (I notice you are this, I notice you do that, I’m aware you said this) is, both, self-conscious making and crazy-making, I consider at least a derivative of gaslighting.

      And yes, it happens all the time, it is sop, and not just by the therapist, but by clients, as well. I’ve known people who have been long term psychotherapy clients, and this is all they do, point at others the way are pointed at in therapy, ready to point out something wrong with a person, or some contradiction. People take the example from their own therapy, and pay it forward. I don’t find this a very comfortable in a relationship, to be so heavily projected onto, called this and that, being constantly told what is “wrong” with you.

      From Wikipedia—

      “Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or members of a group, hoping to make targets question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s belief.”


      This article elaborates–


      This passage got my attention:

      “The intention is to, in a systematic way, target the victim’s mental equilibrium, self confidence, and self esteem so that they are no longer able to function in an independent way. Gaslighting involves the abuser to frequently and systematically withhold factual information from the victim, and replacing it with false information. Because of it’s subtly, this cunning Machiavellian behaviour is a deeply insidious set of manipulations that is difficult for anybody to work out, and with time it finally undermines the mental stability of the victim. That is why it is such a dangerous form of abuse.”

      While it may really not be intentional, as expressed in this definition, and I imagine in the majority of therapy practices it is not, still, when it comes to compromising “the victim’s [patient’s] mental equilibrium, self confidence, and self esteem so that they are no longer able to function in an independent way,” sounds like the effect of psych drugs to me. This is a double whammy for clients, physical abuse from the neurotoxins and mental/emotional abuse—albeit unintentional—from the standard practice of projecting so heavily onto another person. That’s a lot of multiple trauma, caused by standard treatment, perspective, and paradigm. It’s why people can go downhill fast while in “treatment.”

      And yes, it’s totally advantageous to the abusers and oppressors to have this system in place, so that the “identified patient” is unmistakable. Takes the spotlight, and the responsibility, off of them. It’s a brilliant plan, totally double-binding, and extremely costly for people and society in so many ways.

    • We need programmes that educate potential parents, and allow them to learn to manage their possibly distorted and destructive ideas about who they are in relation to their children. Grades 4-8 would be the best time to get to the kids. Those who have difficulties adopting non-violent ideas could be offered support within their families so it becomes safe to adopt non-violent approaches.
      Regarding legal action against abusers, not everyone wants/needs that type outcome, for some it would be a public humiliation. My experience is that people who have suffered must be the ones who make the decision about what action to take – and that any pressure from a ‘therapist’ risks being abusive

      • Somewhere a decent parent is reading this and cringing, and thinking “I have never abused my kid, why is it always abuse?”. We aren’t talking about you, decent parent. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

        “We need programmes that educate potential parents, and allow them to learn to manage their possibly distorted and destructive ideas about who they are in relation to their children.”

        I think there are a few categories categories of parents who will go to those programmes.

        a.) Good parents that don’t need those programs, and would be good irrespective of the existence of such programmes.

        b.) Those who will not have the mental maturity to grasp anything from these programmes.

        c.) Psychopaths who will get through those programs with flying colours and still end up hurting their children, and then blame and gaslight the children themselves.

        I used to have these ideas too….”we need programmes” and all that. I fear those programmes will do nothing but waste tax-payer money.

        • I think the only people who can have a positive impact on the life of future kids who will end up in such situations is the intervention of those of us who have been through it in the first place.

          We need to help each other. No one, no government or institution is going to do that. This will happen only at the level of individuals. For that, some of us need to be wealthy and powerful enough to fight the good fight.

  12. Suicide is a big problem in this world. It is something around which the entire psychiatric industry is based. People feel puzzled over why someone would choose to kill themselves. Of course, there are suicide helplines. People aren’t helped. They are stopped from dying. That’s something that benefits social order more than just the person trying to kill themselves.

    Human beings created a role for people, people who are actually just like you and me, and christened them as psychiatrists/psychologists and mental health workers. People assume that these individuals have some sort of a secret ingredient that can fix lives, and the problems people have had since there have been people.

    It’s something that keeps the myths of therapy alive.

    And yes, I can’t generalise this to all cases.

    But when people in the public at large say things like “Oh, you have daddy issues, spousal issues, children issues…then you should consult a mental health worker”, they are simply perpetuating the myth of the “professional who fixes lives”.

    There are specific instances where I think certain information and drugs which aren’t worse than what they’re treating can be beneficial.

    But the myth of the “doctor of society” is just that. A myth. And it’s a myth that has had such terrible consequences.

  13. Supporting ANY facet of the Mental Health Recovery System, supports all of it, because it promotes the lie that someone gets benefit from it, and then that some people then must need its more extreme forms.



  14. Good place to relate a story:

    Neighborhood young man acts real goofy. People call him crazy, say he has mental problems. Most people avoid talking too him. Probably about 20yo. Most would take him as probably homeless and drug addict.

    Yesterday, someone called police. They had a long talk with him. Woman asked me if they arrested him. I told her that they did not. She explained that she is his mother.

    She explained that he has ‘mental problems’, she seemed to have wanted the police to arrest him, and she refused to tell me if he is on drugs or alcohol. Sounds like he lives with her.

    She talks about getting him to court, meaning that when he has been arrested, she has used the court appearances to get involved in his affairs. Sounds like she wants him in jail. Talks about that as the only remedy.

    Now, my standing doctrine on these types of cases is, punish the parent, severely and publicly. These cases are the results of child abuse, and the most important thing is to let the child see that the parent is wrong and that our society punishes them.

    But this case is different from most of those I have seen. With most the parents are filled with Born Again and Middle-Class righteousness, and it is clear that they have used the child. Most of the time it is to make their marriage work.

    But this woman works in a fast food restaurant, and to me she comes across as a single mother who has nothing.

    So would taking what little she might have help?

    And of the son, of course I oppose therapy and Recovery Programs. Is this son someone who would be good to fight in a political movement? Hardly.

    So what to do, where to look?

    Well, if I encounter her again I will politely ask more. She knows I don’t agree with the concept of mental illness. But she is committed to this. It makes her right and her son wrong.

    So I will ask about the history, what age did his ‘affliction’ start, and how many doctors have seen him, and since when.

    Of course I am looking to establish this as child abuse. But also, the guys who should be punished are the doctors who did not report to the family court. A high level of conflict with a parent is child abuse. No matter if it is a single parent, married parents, or if they are rich or poor. The idea of mental illness was given to her by these doctors, and as they did not report, they are accomplice child abusers. So they are where the hammer should fall.

    And of course the son has to see that the reason for this is that his mother is wrong.


    • And, it is not just the mother who is wrong. It is our entire society. We do not protect children from familial child abuse. We use things like psychiatry, psychiatric medications, psychotherapy, and the recovery movement to cover up for child abuse, and for the fact that many go thru adolescence in entirely unworkable situations, and then enter adult hood with zero chance at adult life. And this will never change until people are able to see this.