Antipsychiatry – Say What?


Over the last couple of years, I have written several articles intended to shed light on the term/phenomenon “antipsychiatry” (to name just a few, “On Antipsychiatry,” “Antipsychiatry Revisited,”  and “On Fighting Institutional Psychiatry with the ‘Attrition Model’”). This is the next in the series. Questions addressed include: What exactly does “antipsychiatry” mean? And if there is more than one meaning or reference, how do you choose between them? Is the term useful or hopelessly ambiguous? Can one be antipsychiatry without being abolitionist? Does antipsychiatry partake of degrees, such as being “very antipsychiatry” or “somewhat antipsychiatry”? And if one wants to end the use of psychiatric coercion only, does that position qualify as antipsychiatry?

In the process of offering what clarification I can, I will be dipping in and out of history, for we cannot come to terms with this phenomenon or the tangle of confusions surrounding it without delving into historical developments. I would just add in passing that I am writing this article not only as an antipsychiatry theorist but as someone who has been actively involved in antipsychiatry activism non-stop for forty years.

One further note in passing: throughout, I will be spelling “antipsychiatry” precisely as I have done so here. For more on the question of spelling, see the end of this article.

To begin, the term “antipsychiatry” (spelled by him “anti-psychiatry”), was invented by a colleague of R.D. Laing’s, Dr. David Cooper, in 19671. It was quickly picked up by the various people in the society that surrounded Laing. What the Laingian group were intending by the term was a different approach to “help,” with what had been called psychiatric problems being reframed as inherently social, political, and psychological rather than medical, with the existential philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre figuring into the mix in critical ways2. Laing and Cooper likewise explored (and to varying degrees set up) live-in therapeutic communities where people were at least hypothetically given help as they went about their journey through madness, and with Cooper in the process introducing the “antihospital” concept just as he introduced the concept of “antipsychiatry.”

Now, Cooper was far more activist than Laing and very much thought in terms of social movements. However, what is evident is that even with Cooper, despite his legendary critique of “experts,” the movement that he was discussing was a professional movement—not a movement of the oppressed themselves. What is likewise relevant is that despite how deeply he felt it, his opposition to psychiatry was in its own way muted; moreover, it became more muted over time (though admittedly he did go back and forth) and eventually became so “moderate” that he himself dropped the term antipsychiatry (as can be seen in Stephen Ticktin’s informative memoir “Brother Beast—A Personal Memoir of David Cooper”), turning instead to the term “non-psychiatry” and alternatively, “non-medical psychiatry.”

Now with regard to this latter term, I had an interesting conversation with Ticktin over it less than a month ago that proceeded roughly as follows:

Ticktin: Later David abandoned the word “antipsychiatry,” using instead the more political term “non-medical psychiatry.”

Burstow: That doesn’t sound more political to me. It sounds less political.

Ticktin: You think it’s less political?

Burstow: Look at the term. It is not announcing opposition to psychiatry or even to biological psychiatry, it is simply staking out a different form of practice. (personal conversation, CAPA meeting, June 3, 2017)

While I will be commenting on this curious shift later, for the time being, I leave readers themselves to reflect on how we might understand it.

Now in fairly short order, “antipsychiatry” (and yes, still spelled “anti-psychiatry”) made it into the lexicon of accepted scholarly terms. Nonetheless, instead of having a clear-cut meaning, it became somewhat of a “grab bag” category, with the term being applied to the positions of a large number of scholars who substantially critiqued psychiatry, albeit from very different perspectives. Examples are theorists as varied as Thomas Szasz in the US and Michel Foucault in France—the first a right wing libertarian psychiatrist who demonstrated that the very concept of “mental illness” was a myth, the second a French philosopher who approached the profession/practice as a paradigmal example of what he called “power-knowledge”3. Significantly, while almost all the theorists whose critiques of psychiatry figured heavily in the 1960s, 1970s, and the 1980s (e.g., Szasz, Foucault, Goffman, Becker) were lumped together under the umbrella term “antipsychiatry,” and while they all greatly influenced others who so identified, not a one of these theorists personally laid claim to the term antipsychiatry. In fact, quite the opposite: one of the very last books of Thomas Szasz (20094), specifically attacks what he saw as antipsychiatry, with Szasz not simply distancing himself from it, but soundly dismissing it as “quackery squared.”

That said, there is yet another constituency—and I would suggest, a more important one— that is associated with the word “antipsychiatry.” It is comprised of psychiatric survivors and their allies, people who see themselves as part of a social movement, the overriding goal of which is to abolish psychiatry. What distinguishes these activists (and to be clear, I count myself among them) from the individuals and groups discussed to date are:

  1. They invariably combine a medical position (a position on what science does and does not show and on what is wrong with the allegedly medical claims being advanced) with an epistemological position (a position on how we know and on the very nature of the claims to knowledge) and an ethical position (what, in light of what has been revealed, society is called upon to do).
  2. They identify as part of a liberatory social movement.
  3. The experience and the standpoint of survivors—not that of professionals—is considered the primary one.
  4. Psychiatry is theorized as a bogus branch of medicine and an oppression.
  5. The overarching commitment is to rid of the world of this oppression—that is, to rid the world of psychiatry—just as feminists are committed to ridding the world of sexism.
  6. Antipsychiatry is not simply a label stuck on members of this constituency by others. It is at once a form of self-identity and a calling that is actively embraced.

This position and this identity found expression in various movement magazines from the early 1980s onward (see, for example, the various issues of the totally antipsychiatry Toronto-based magazine Phoenix Rising, aptly subtitled “the voice of the Psychiatrized”), which featured, among other things, the voices of iconic survivors like Don Weitz. While drawing heavily on the theoretic foundations provided by writers like Szasz—and while drawing at least as significantly on the lived experience as well as the theorizing of psychiatric survivors everywhere, under the banner of antipsychiatry—what all such activists have done and have continued to do over the years is fundamentally to critique psychiatry and fight for its abolition. It was likewise a major ingredient in survivor magazines that combined both antipsychiatry and other critical voices, e.g., Madness Network News.

Some salient points and distinctions: While hardly being identical to the psychiatric survivor movement, antipsychiatry as practiced by the people discussed above profoundly connects with the survivor movement. At the same time, it is also distinct. As discussed by Shaindl Lin Diamond in her groundbreaking thesis5, some members of the survivor movement are antipsychiatry while others are not. Correspondingly, while psychiatric survivors make up a major part of the antipsychiatry movement, the movement is not restricted to them.

What is by far the largest and longest standing antipsychiatry organization and network in the world, Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA), is instructive in this regard. Committed to psychiatry abolition, and guided by a survivor standpoint, it is open to everyone who takes an abolitionist position, irrespective of social location. Note in this regard these words in its very inclusive mandate statement: “CAPA is a coalition of people committed to dismantling the psychiatric system and building a better world. Radical and visionary, we are comprised of activists, psychiatric survivors, dramatists, academics and professionals.” Herein antipsychiatry organizations mirror the operations of social movement groups like Marxist organizations, for example, in which the basis of unity is the set of common principles and commitments and not the social location. And herein this movement differs from both the survivor movement and the mad movement (to which, once again, it is intrinsically connected).

One further bit of context: Contrasting with, while to varying degrees interacting with the various groups discussed to date—that is, both those who self-identify as antipsychiatry and those whom third parties simply label antipsychiatry—are still others whom no one sees as antipsychiatry but who nonetheless argue/fight for something better than what exists, with many but not all of these at the same time seeing themselves as part of a social movement. I do not locate the survivor movement in this category, for the survivor movement is its very own special entity and spans most of the other movements. Pivotal here are movements of professionals, although survivors often identify with them and very commonly work with them. An example is “the movement for a democratic psychiatry,” which originated with Basaglia in Italy and is exemplified currently by the work of Asylum Magazine in England. A more formidable example is the far larger network of theorists, survivors, and activists who identify as “critical psychiatry,” with the “democratic psychiatry” folk now largely being subsumed under the umbrella term “critical psychiatry.” The primary mandate of such groups may roughly be described as “mental health reform” or “psychiatric reform.”

The context now clear, and to return to the questions with which this article began: so what does “antipsychiatry” mean? And is the term useful?

From one very limited perspective, it surely does seem ambiguous, for the term has blatantly been used in different ways by different players. That said, I would like to pursue a different line of reasoning here. On one hand, the word has evolved, and when a word evolves we don’t compare it to the original meaning and on the basis of the difference between them claim ambiguity. Doing so here would be a bit like saying that the meaning of the word “typewriter” is ambiguous for it initially referred to the person operating the machine. What is likewise significant, the original inventor and promulgator of the word does not get to determine what it means.

More generally, words can have meaning and relevance on a number of different bases. One—and an important one it is—is a practical basis. Questions to ask, in this regard, include: Does a given usage of the word sharply distinguish the phenomenon in question from separate albeit related phenomena? And does it establish a direction? And what is clear is that activists who proclaim themselves antipsychiatry are using the term in a way that establishes a direction—abolition—and in the process, we have created a niche that distinguishes antipsychiatry very sharply from critical psychiatry. As such, antipsychiatry has an “evolved meaning” which is both unambiguous and useful. What is likewise relevant, of all usages of the term that have surfaced over the years, this is the one—and this the only one—that stands out as “linguistically correct.” How so?

Closely examine the word “antipsychiatry.” It is a complex term composed of two parts, the first of which defines the orientation to be taken to the second. So there is “anti,” which means “against,” and there is “psychiatry,” the meaning of which, alas, we all know only too well. “Anti” identifies the orientation toward psychiatry. Ergo, to be antipsychiatry, by the very logic of how language works, means to be against psychiatry. To be “against,” note, is blatantly different than “reforming psychiatry,” or “modifying it” or “coming up with a new version thereof,” which in essence is what critical psychiatry stands for. Two conclusions follow. The first is that the activists who are using the term “antipsychiatry” to designate an abolitionist position, which is what the vast majority of self-proclaimed antipsychiatry activists are doing today, are using it correctly. The second, and we have already touched on this, is that it is not an ambiguous word, but one with a clear and precise meaning. To be antipsychiatry, in a nutshell, is to be “against psychiatry”—is to be committed to getting rid of it.

How does one square this reality with the early historical use of the term? By acknowledging that words change meaning. Beyond this, however, by taking in the fact that when Cooper invented the term “antipsychiatry,” what he did, in effect, is come up with a “misnomer”—for, while he had issues with psychiatry, strictly speaking he was not “against psychiatry.” The term was quickly accepted without anyone commenting on or seeming to notice the misnomer. What resulted from this acceptance of the term is that for a very long time everyone with a substantial critique of psychiatry got lumped together under this word. Come the modern activists—and survivors were absolutely pivotal to this change—slowly but surely a huge turnabout happened. For the first time, the linguistic meaning of the word and what it was being used to designate actually came together! The upshot? Though the term “antipsychiatry” entered into our political vocabulary as a misnomer, what materialized in the fullness of time is a useful word associated with a clear position and a very important agenda. Correspondingly, there is no question whose meaning of the word is accurate.

Herein lie answers to most of the questions posed at this beginning of this article. Yes, the term is useful. No, it is not ambiguous. Yes, it is clear which usage to follow. No, it is not subject to degrees. In this last regard, to be clear, one may of course have a strong critique of psychiatry without wanting to get rid of it—but in that case one is “critical psychiatry,” not “antipsychiatry.” The same is true of people who call themselves antipsychiatry while taking the position, for example, that they only want to get rid of nonconsensual psychiatry, as vitally important as such an advance would be. To fathom why I am saying this, look at comparable political terms in other areas—terms such as “antiracism” and “anti-sexism.” No one, for example, would say that they are avidly antiracist but that being so does not imply that they want to stop all racism, just “non-consensual racism.” Nor would anyone say they are “anti-ableist” while meaning it is okay if people are ableist privately—that they are only against ableism that is institutionally organized, that they have no objection to other types.

Now if people opt to take a critical psychiatry position, they are, of course, free to do so. What would be helpful, however, is that they not confuse their own position with antipsychiatry, that they not turn an unambiguous term into a vague term, that they not conflate antipsychiatry with critical psychiatry—that they not, as it were, send us retreating back into the “grab bag category” era.

I am aware, of course, that there are people who straddle the divide between antipsychiatry and critical psychiatry, or to put this another way, between abolition and reform. And of course, I respect people’s right to use words as they choose. In the interest of clarity, nonetheless, what I would encourage people who straddle these positions to do is try to articulate their stance without calling it antipsychiatry, for despite the best of intentions—and I in no way doubt that people’s intentions are honourable—doing otherwise does “muddy the waters.” And while I realize I am “stretching” here, I would encourage them more generally to ask themselves: What is stopping them from taking an abolition position? And are there perhaps better ways of dealing with what worries them without taking a position which, for all intents and purposes, involves propping up a bogus and destructive system, lending it both power and legitimacy? (For an article that illustrates that despite the best intentions, history shows again and again that this is where non-abolitionist reform leads, see “Liberal ‘Mental Health’ Reform: A ‘Fail-Proof’ Way to Fail.”)

By way of example, if they are worried that people need help—and who among us is not?—then how about working to establish participatory help networks which are voluntary and do not empower psychiatry? Correspondingly, if you are worried that people will be deprived of their way of coping if psychiatry is phased out—will be robbed of the drugs that get them through the day, for instance (obviously a totally legitimate concern)—please note that there is nothing in the abolitionist agenda which implies “leaving people in the lurch.” Herein, let me suggest, lies the difference between thoughtful and thoughtless abolitionist work.

Now I will not be mounting a case for antipsychiatry in this article, for I have often done so in the past and such is not the purpose of this article. Suffice it to say, at this point, that it has been demonstrated repeatedly by hundreds of solid theorists (both of the antipsychiatry and the critical psychiatry variety) that psychiatry lacks foundations, that it is a bogus branch of medicine, and that it overwhelmingly harms (see, for example Breggin 19916, Whitaker, 20107, Burstow, 20158, and Gøtzsche, 20139). As such, however one imagines this happening, does it not make sense to bring it to an end? Nor is the issue of respecting people’s choices relevant, though understandably, this issue almost invariably pops up when people explain why they are not antipsychiatry. Of course people’s wishes need to be respected! That is absolutely non-negotiable. And of course, people need choices! As I have argued in detail elsewhere, that is a totally separate issue from stopping bogus medicine from passing as real medicine, stopping the public funding of psychiatry and the industries surrounding it, stopping giving them power and legitimacy—which, not coincidentally, is a good part of what most of us mean by psychiatry abolition. Moreover, as likewise shown in the article referenced above, psychiatry overwhelmingly drives out choice; that is, it actually curtails the plethora of services that many want, while co-opting whatever else exists.

As for those who are uncomfortable with the notion of abolition itself, while abolition may seem extreme to people, and I totally understand the impulse toward “moderation,” albeit commonly a wise position, “moderation” is not an answer to everything. If a practice or institution is fundamentally unacceptable (take murder, take slavery) should we not be getting rid of it rather than just looking to develop a less horrific version?

By the same token, while some are afraid of the concept because it seems tumultuous, note that there is nothing in the commitment to abolition that in any way involves a commitment to instantaneous overthrow. I would remind readers here of the painstakingly careful attrition model of psychiatry abolition, where bit by bit, you unravel psychiatry, supporting only those reforms which lead in the direction of abolition (for details on how to implement a strategy such as this, see Burstow, 201310). More generally, pursuing abolition intelligently, kindly, sensitively and in ways that take seriously the plight and the rights of everyone is precisely what good abolitionist work is about.

To summarize, in short, the term “antipsychiatry” has a very clear meaning, a very clear goal. It carves out a totally distinct space. And its agenda is defensible, one might even say necessary. More generally, the arguments against it do not hold. At most they apply to careless abolition work, which is in no way implied in the commitment to abolition.

That said, to quickly return to the early history with which this article began—learning that I was penning an article of this ilk, several days ago, one of my friends asked me this: Had Cooper lived long enough to see what both psychiatry and antipsychiatry were to become, do I think he himself would have endorsed an honest-to-God antipsychiatry vision? While it is hard to know for certain, my guess is probably not, or he would never have abandoned the term in the first place. My guess is that, in part, Cooper abandoned the term precisely because it began to dawn on him just how out-of-the-box it was. On the other hand, who is to say where he would have gone had he stayed in the field and found himself contending with the mega growth of biological psychiatry?

Let me suggest, however, that even if he would not have endorsed antipsychiatry, besides the fact that his endorsement is hardly needed, that would not make the term an iota less clear or the antipsychiatry agenda an iota less pressing. What it would do, rather, is stand as yet another indicator of the limitations of social movement initiatives that originate from professionals as opposed to originating with the oppressed. In this regard, professionals can be important, even invaluable allies, and beyond that, brothers and sisters in struggle—and thankfully, we all know ones who are. Except under certain circumstances, however, professionals are simply not the oppressed. This notwithstanding, hats off to David Cooper for coming up with a term which was gutsier and even wiser than he knew!

Finally, in conclusion, and to return to the enigma surrounding spelling which I hinted at early on: regardless of how you spell “antipsychiatry,” linguistically speaking, it means the same thing. Correspondingly, like Shakespeare who spelled the word “spear” in three different ways throughout his portfolios, I have always considered society’s preoccupation with “standard spelling” as at best pedantic. Nonetheless, a curious difference surfaces in the spelling of the term “antipsychiatry.” While the word that Cooper invented was hyphenated, and while the vast majority of others who went on to employ it or reference it followed suit, there are generations of activists who have consistently spelled the word differently, in some cases even consciously intending a break with Cooper. In this regard, all thirty-two issues of the historical antipsychiatry magazine Phoenix Rising consistently used the non-hyphenated version, as have legions of antipsychiatry activists and their organizations (e.g., Resistance Against Psychiatry and Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault). I personally have published seven books consistently employing the unhyphenated version and literally hundreds of articles. And all the writings of the iconic survivor author Don Weitz (and his writings in this area date back to the 1970s) similarly uphold the spelling “antipsychiatry.”

Of course, spelling is “just spelling” and the vast majority of folks who come across your writing are unlikely to even notice the difference. So “no sweat” if you choose to retain whatever spelling you have been employing. This notwithstanding, if you want to stand in an almost forty year old tradition of people who have used “antipsychiatry” consistently to mean “abolition” (note, “antipsychiatry” without the hyphen has never been used in any other way), if you want to line up with the activists and radicals as distinct from the professionals, if you want to stand your ground as an abolitionist visionary, do consider joining us and bidding the hyphen “adieu.”

Show 10 footnotes

  1. Cooper, D. (1967). (Ed.). Psychiatry and antipsychiatry. London: Paladin.
  2. Laing, R. D. (1965). The divided self. London: Pelican Books.
  3. Foucault, M. (1980). Power/Knowledge (C. Gordon, Trans.). New York: Pantheon.
  4. Szasz, T. (2009). Antipsychiatry: Quackery squared. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press.
  5. Diamond. S. (2012). Against the medicalization of humanity. Doctoral Thesis. Toronto: University of Toronto.
  6. Breggin, P. (1991). Toxic psychiatry. New York: St. Martins Press.
  7. Whitaker, R. (2010). Anatomy of an epidemic. New York: Broadway Paperbacks.
  8. Burstow, B. (2015). Psychiatry and the business of madness. New York: Palgrave.
  9. Gøtzsche, P. (2013). Deadly medicine and organized crime. New York: Radcliffe.
  10. Burstow, B. (2013). The withering of psychiatry: An attrition model for antipsychiatry. In B. Burstow, B. LeFrançois, and S. Diamond (Eds.). Psychiatry disrupted (pp. 34-51). Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.


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. Bonnie this is just so brilliant and well-written. I know we’ve all come against brick walls here with the term and the “to what degree” issue.

    Abolishing slavery became the law but immediately we found organizations, entire regions or cities, government leaders and community members trying desperately to find loopholes so they could get around the law. Plessy was such a loophole. If we can’t quite enslave, let’s make sure the blacks are kept separately and call that equal!

    With the ADA came the loophole-seekers, employers who would not comply stating their businesses didn’t qualify for some reason.

    If there’s a law saying you have to pay more taxes, immediately some group is going to snake out every tax loophole they can find.

    Likewise, abolition, say, of psych diagnosis would lead to people finding ways to pseudo-diagnose. We already have a bunch of pop dxes out there that are harming people, such as “Oversensitivity Disorder.” Oh please! Abolition of psychiatry as a whole would lead to pseudo-psychiatrists popping up by different nomenclature. Abolition of therapy will result in an awful lot “coaches” and “healers.” Nomenclature via euphemism.

    I have heard an awful lot of conformity around “drugs are bad but therapy is great.” Listening and caring is great, but I’m convinced you don’t need fancy degrees and licensing to be a decent and kind human being, nor does such academic achievement guarantee you’re going to get kindness. If you want listening and caring, then what we need are listening and caring communities. This one very radical change, in fact, is what will totally blow all “mental health professionals” off the employment rolls.

    Nomenclature problems are a subset of the human failure to communicate properly. There will always be communication problems so long as humans communicate and we aren’t perfect. The Tower of Babel narrative in the Torah is just that story. So maybe we should have learned, eh?

    Thanks so much for starting this awesome dialogue.

      • I briefly saw a real moron of a therapist who thought that I was simulateneously so sick that I needed several weeks of inpatient care but then that she could get me better enough for full-time substantial gainful work with two months of therapy. She was delusional!

  2. Bonnie,

    Thank you for this fascinating walk through the history of the antipsychiatry movement. Amusingly, as I type this, my phone is attempting to autocorrect ‘antipsychiatry’ to ‘anti-psychiatry’. Thanks also for the references – I have more reading to do.

    I do consider myself an abolitionist of the medical model of psychiatry though I have personally found the therapeutic relationship with at least two therapists to be helpful, and I don’t mind them being paid for their time when they have that gift. (I don’t see psychology as entirely negative like some do.) Although, my ideal society would be a socialist-communal one in which each person was equally valued and able to bring their gifts to the community without worrying about how they would support themselves that’s probably best saved for another discussion.

    I see my positions overlapping both the antipsychiatry movement and the mad pride movement, both of which seem to empower the survivor/oppressed individual’s viewpoint. In my opinion, these two movements don’t conflict with eachother, merely bringing overlapping voices together.

    I’d love to know your suggested response when someone calls you a ‘radical’, as the abolitionist activists have been called somewhat frequently recently in these comment sections. I appreciate the point that moderation is not always a good position (this urge toward centrism is how neoliberalism took over the Democratic Party, for example). Your points about racism and slavery are poignant but what would you specifically respond with in terms of psychiatric harm when someone says psychiatric medicine has helped themself and others? I find it hardest to respond when someone claims they have been personally helped by psychiatric medicine – first, because I don’t consider them medicine, but mostly because I don’t want to invalidate the experience of the person claiming to have been helped, which would simply invite invalidation of my position that they’re harmful.

    I find that the tendency to call someone a radical is generally used to make ones own position seem more rational and also to silence the abolitionist. I do not see myself as a radical, merely informed. My tendency to date has generally been to recite statistical evidence of harm but recent sociological research suggests that the more information you present to back up your position, the more entrenched people become in their opposing viewpoint. So I wonder if this tactic is backfiring.

    Thank you again, great piece!

    • I do consider myself an abolitionist of the medical model of psychiatry

      Ah. But psychiatry and the medical model are one and the same; there is no other “model” within the psychiatric realm. Psychiatry defines mental and emotional states in disease terms, hence the requirement that psychiatrists have a medical degree. Hence, since “mental disease” is an absurd and impossible concept, the essence of psychiatry is fraud.

      What people call “therapy” is a separate issue. Although the term implies a health issue, which is a big problem, “therapy” can means anything the “therapist” wants. Sometimes, depending on the individual “therapist” people can find help in this way. But this is not psychiatry, although some psychiatrists do engage in what they call therapy. However they are also likely to add drugs to the mix and call them “medications,” which turns it into a fraudulent and criminal enterprise. At least it would be considered such in a rational society.

      I would agree that you should wear the term “radical” with pride rather than being defensive. To mean it means going to the root of a problem.

  3. Thanks. I remember a few years ago, Bonnie, when you encouraged those of us attending a Toronto conference to hear each other without necessarily feeling that we had to convert each other. That helped us listen to the real diversity at that event, including those who called themselves ‘anti-psychiatry’. I assume this piece is along the same lines, and I hope to read it soon. In the meantime, I know there were some folks eager to post comments, and posting to a 2017 article should be more doable than to an older piece, which tends to have closed comments. So you may get some more comments here before the individual reads the whole piece. As I said, I will strive to do that soon.

  4. We’ve been having this argument elsewhere, Bonnie, and I suppose I will have to explain myself in more detail to clarify my position on the issue. I believe in interpreting, hyphenated or non-hyphenated, the word antipsychiatry in a broad sense so as not to alienate potential recruits rather than more narrowly. I would never say, as you seem to say, abolish psychiatry, at least in an implied sense, without coupling it with system, institution, or oppression. It is one thing when you have a movement, as you did with the one that preceded the antipsychiatry movement, to abolish the institution of slavery. It is quite another thing to claim, whether true or not, to be out to abolish white supremacism. One can, of course, be anti-racist. Abolishing racism, however, is not within the present realm of possibility. Psychiatry, etymologically speaking, means “soul healer”, technically making it a profession hybrid, the result of a mating between divinity school and medical school. One could further suggest that it is philosophy. I don’t think laying down a dogma that says ‘If you are not for abolishing psychiatry you are not antipsychiatry’ is particularly helpful. In fact, I would think that it would aid those who want to insult us by calling us “fringe”, “fringe science”, or a “fringe” group. As a psychiatric survivor I know first hand all the bad things that come of psychiatric, and further, as with those services you mention, mental health treatment in toto. I happen to be, like Szasz, the psychiatrist, against non-consensual coercive psychiatry, however, this does not mean that I am for psychiatry. I cannot, in all honesty, oppose consensual non-coercive psychiatry, and expect to make a winning argument against non-consensual coercive psychiatry, too; that is, I have to distinguish between the bad and any potential good in the field. If psychiatry is a way of thought, I’m not out to suppress free expression of it. I have endured forced treatment, and I am for its abolition. Any other position is reformist. I, however, am not saying I’m in favor of suppressing free thought and expression. If psychiatry is a philosophy, the best counter to it is another way of thinking. I wouldn’t say that because I believe in coupling psychiatry with system, institution, or oppression, I am therefore critical psychiatry, as you have suggested. Although there are a few critical psychiatrists opposed to forced treatment, there are innumerable critical psychiatrists who are in favor of forced treatment. I have to draw the line there. I can’t tell other people what to do with their lives, except in so far as they interfere with the lives of other people. I have no need of psychiatry, still, I can’t expect other people not see some point in it in so far as they are concerned, and I can’t tell them they aren’t within their rights in consulting a shrink if they should choose to do so. It is not something I would do, but I’m not them. Bluntly, I am not in favor of critical psychiatry, and furthermore, I don’t have a medical degree. I’m for exposing psychiatry as fraud and pseudo-science, and delegitimizing it as a power and a profession. That said, I can’t wish it off the face of the earth anymore than I can wish any other form of fortune-telling off the face of the planet. Yes, I’m against ‘psychiatric slavery’, but that’s where the system, institution, and oppression come in. Psychiatric freedom, take it or leave it. I’m leaving it.

    • Frank

      You said: ” If psychiatry is a way of thought, I’m not out to suppress free expression of it.”

      Psychiatry is obviously much more than “a way of thought.” It is a very powerful MEDICAL INSTITUTION with more power than any other branch of medicine in that it has similar powers of the Executive Branch of the U.S. government. Especially, when it comes to having the right to take away someone’s freedom and forceably hospitalized and/or drug them against their will.

      I hear you saying something to the effect that “we can’t tell someone they can’t be a psychiatrist or a fortune teller.” These are VASTLY different categories of people. Telling fortunes and practicing medicine (and in Psychiatry’s case drugging and forcing people into hosp/jails) are qualitatively in a different realm of practice.

      It is one thing if a person goes around telling people they are a “pilot” or a “medical doctor.” It is a whole different thing if a person attempts to fly a plane without a proper license. That is dangerous and correctly so, against the law. It is also a whole different thing if a person simply believes they are a “doctor,” but then takes it to another level by actually attempting to practice medicine on people.

      Psychiatry is a medical specialty that also does some therapy. If Psychiatry is someday stripped of its medical license (which is a KEY STEP towards abolishing Psychiatry) then it will no longer BE Psychiatry anymore. Those people will now be ONLY practicing some type of THERAPY and BECOME some type of THERAPIST. They will NO LONGER BE A DOCTOR PRACTICING PSYCHIATRY. If they choose to continuing working with people as if they are a DOCTOR, they will be breaking the law and justly punished for committing a crime that could potentially harm people.

      We need to have to have the specialty of “pilots” to fly airplanes for travel purposes and we need it to be licensed for safety purposes. There is absolutely no societal need for Psychiatry and especially for a medical specialty that is based on totally fraudulent science and practice, and that clearly harms millions of people around the world.

      BTW, Bonnie, thank you for writing this blog. I am currently pondering the totality of your writing here.


      • I think it would be possible to abolish forced treatment, that is, I think it would be possible to abolish non-consensual coercive psychiatry, however I doubt that it would be possible to abolish treatment that is freely requested and freely given (for a fee, of course), that is, consensual non-coercive psychiatry. I have no love of psychiatry, and I realize that it has done a vast amount of harm.

        You mention psychiatry as a medical institution. Didn’t I say I have no objection to one talking about abolishing institutional psychiatry? Again, I don’t see a vast amount of difference between psychiatry and fortune telling. Fortune tellers still manage to eke out an existence through their trade. Abolish coercive psychiatry, and there are still going to be “soul healers” out there. I’m more interested in abolishing forced treatment than I am in abolishing treatment for those who want treatment because they erroneously think they are “sick”, or that there is something “wrong” with themselves. To my way of thinking, it is worse to harm someone who is aware they are being harmed, against their will and wishes, than it is to harm someone you have bamboozled into thinking that what harms them benefits them. Many psychiatrists, also, seem to have managed to have bamboozled themselves on the subject.

        Technically you could actually abolish psychiatry without abolishing forced mental health treatment. When medicine has become an excuse for social control, I don’t think medicine is the problem, social control is the problem. Psychiatry has its medical pretensions, on top of which, all psychiatrists are trained physicians with medical degrees. I can’t see abolishing psychiatry if something else is going to perform the same function. I can see abolishing coercive psychiatry because that coercion is what I’m talking about regardless of whether it is coming from psychiatry, or from somewhere else, the mental health movement, for example.

        • Frank

          You said: “To my way of thinking, it is worse to harm someone who is aware they are being harmed against their will and wishes than it is to harm someone you have bamboozled into thinking that what harms them benefits them. ”

          Tell this to all the millions of victims of the worldwide benzodiazepine and SSRI crisis.

          You said: “When medicine has become an excuse for social control, I don’t think medicine is the problem, social control is the problem.”

          There is actually FAR MORE social control going on in the world from NON-COERCIVE Psychiatry than there is from that which is coercive.

          And lastly you said: “You could actually abolish psychiatry without abolishing forced mental health treatment.”

          You are seriously contradicting yourself. Psychiatry has now become essential to the promotion and maintenance of the “mental health” system AND as a means for social control in society.

          And more importantly to consider here, is that both Psychiatry and the “mental health” system have become such vital cogs (over the past 40 years) in preserving social control in this Imperialist Empire that NEITHER will go out of existence, unless and until, the Empire falls and is replaced with an entirely different system.

          So, you might ask, why am I advocating for the abolishment of Psychiatry if I believe the Empire must fall first before this can happen???

          Because I believe that the movement against Psychiatry and the entire mental health” system can be a vitally important tributary of struggle against this entire System to help ultimately bring it down. Just as I believe the environmental movement and the struggle against racial oppression and the oppression of women will also be vitally important tributaries as well.

          The fight against all forms of psychiatric oppression and the call for abolishing Psychiatry can be an important educational tool exposing the true nature of Capitalism/Imperialism, as both a threat to the future survival of the planet, and as a roadblock to the future progress of the human species.

          Frank, It seems like you don’t see (or advocate for) an ultimate end to Psychiatry, because you don’t see the possibility of a world without the need for its existence. You are somehow ready to settle for the the ultimate utopian fantasy that non-coercive Psychiatry can actually exist in a world without there being coercive Psychiatry. Ain’t happening!


          • I’m not using the word ultimate here, Richard. You are. Thanks anyway.

            The psychiatry business is booming, Uprising. That means a lot of psychiatric slaves in the world. Maybe you need to ask them why they’re buying it? I’m not buying it. I’m not in treatment. I’m not in the system. I don’t have a problem with that.

          • Frank

            You have not responded to the content of my criticism of your prior comments; you now seem to be evading the discussion.

            You said above: ” Maybe you need to ask them why they’re buying it [psychiatry]? I’m not buying it. I’m not in treatment. I’m not in the system.”

            Frank, maybe they’re just not just as smart as you. Or maybe they are truly “informed” people who love Psychiatry and love being f#%ked over.


          • I didn’t get the idea that you responded to the content of my comment, Richard. Do that, and we will have something, critically or complementary, to talk about.

            You’ve got all these people dying in the psychiatric system, not because they are non-compliant, but because they are compliant. I have never made an argument in favor of compliance (i.e. using/consuming mental health treatment [drugs, confinement, restraints]), quite the reverse, however, if a person is going to make an argument that means an early grave, what do you get out of it? An early grave, of course.

            The argument has been put forth that people in the mental health system lack will power owing to their respective “illnesses”. “Mental illness” itself has been defined as a lack of will power. That’s not my definition, and I want no part of it. “Mental illness” is BS. Ditto, BS.

            “There is actually FAR MORE social control going on in the world from NON-COERCIVE Psychiatry than there is from that which is coercive.”

            I have to disagree with you on this score. Non-coercive by definition is not controlling. I would argue instead that there is not much non-coercive psychiatry at all. Get rid of the coercion, and then tell me how psychiatry is faring.

            “And more importantly to consider here, is that both Psychiatry and the “mental health” system have become such vital cogs (over the past 40 years) in preserving social control in this Imperialist Empire that NEITHER will go out of existence, unless and until, the Empire falls and is replaced with an entirely different system.”

            I can’t wait for the fall of empire to bring down the psychiatric system. Nor do I see why anybody else would. I think we’re going to need to take matters into our own hands in order to bring down the psychiatric system. The fall of empire can, and will, wait. If you will notice, the fall of empire has seldom resulted in the fall of the psychiatric system before. I have little cause to believe that it will do so later.

            I personally don’t need psychiatry. I can live without it. Now where the world is at with regard to psychiatry is up to the world, not me. I’ve already cast my vote.

          • If you had a world revolution that was going to bring down psychiatry I’d be all for it, but I’ve never heard tell of such a revolution, and that’s because that’s not the way it usually goes. The world revolution and the antipsychiatry revolution are, in other words, at antipodes. I’m not saying that it has to be this way, I’m just saying this is the way it is now. I’d like to see change. I just recognize that we are not on their agenda yet, and I think its an agenda that is going to be difficult, but not impossible, to change. In lieu of such change, I’m for getting rid of the psychiatric system.

            I don’t say “abolish psychiatry” because I think of psychiatry as a philosophy, a system of thought, and I’m not one to oppose freedom of speech and expression. I do say “abolish the psychiatric system” because I see the system as creating a diminished double of the world in which the world could only benefit from its dissolution. End the perpetual non-interrupted rehearsals for life, that mean so much to the mental health system, in other words, and it will mean folks will be living in reality.

          • I don’t say “abolish psychiatry” because I think of psychiatry as a philosophy, a system of thought, and I’m not one to oppose freedom of speech and expression.

            No one is calling for the stifling of anyone else’s freedoms of speech and expression. That is a straw-man argument on your part.

          • Uprising

            You said: ” There is no such thing as non-coercive psychiatry. There are only degrees of coercion.”

            You are more clear and correct to state it this way. When I was using “non-coercive psychiatry” in my above comment that said:

            “There is actually FAR MORE social control going on in the world from NON-COERCIVE Psychiatry than there is from that which is coercive.”

            I was referring to the more obvious and open forms of coercive psychiatry, like forced hospitalization and forced drugging. In the final analysis ALL Psychiatry in today’s world is “coercive.”

            In the same way that a woman may end up remaining in a very abusive relationship with a man, there are always very overt as well as many subtle (and culturally influenced) forms of coercion going on. But in the broadest sense of understanding the concept of “freedom of choice,” these are NOT “free” choices.


        • Psychiatrists and many mental health workers force “treatment” based on the psychic prediction of “future dangerousness.” In many societies, locking up and taking rights away based on psychic nonsense is condemned as torture and not allowed. But since they LIE and say it’s beneficial and call it “care,” they’re getting away with it.

      • I would agree wholeheartedly. Listening and caring isn’t a skill you get a degree in, nor a specialty. Most people learn empathy in childhood, far earlier than they might attend college.

        I recall in my high school we had sort of a “losers’ club.” it wasn’t called that, but in so many ways we nerdy kids had been rejected, just for being smart. We were the kids who’d been teased for our brains, or who felt out of place somehow. Our heads were more into calculus and Dungeons and Dragons than into learning Textbook Fake Empathy that lasts 45 minutes and then, Time’s Up.

        I can say that every single one of those kids were people I could identify with, people with whom i shared a common bond. I didn’t like all of them, but loved them all. Not one was a trained counselor and most of us had barely heard of social work. Mental illness was not a common household word. I know we gave to each other so much more than any of the adults around us. I recall I even talked a couple of my buddies out of suicide every now and then. Oh, I didn’t charge for that, either.

        Therapy, which I started years later, was a huge disappointment. It continued to let me down over and over until I realized the practice was nothing but prostitution.

      • If Psychiatry is someday stripped of its medical license (which is a KEY STEP towards abolishing Psychiatry) then it will no longer BE Psychiatry anymore. Those people will now be ONLY practicing some type of THERAPY and BECOME some type of THERAPIST. They will NO LONGER BE A DOCTOR PRACTICING PSYCHIATRY. If they choose to continuing working with people as if they are a DOCTOR, they will be breaking the law and justly punished for committing a crime that could potentially harm people.

        This is a key point. We could argue forever about whether we’re “fighting,” “opposing,” “ending” or “abolishing” psychiatry, the point is to DO IT! The reality is that when psychiatry is delegitimized as a field of medicine and involuntary “treatment” is outlawed, psychiatry will be effectively kaput. (BTW delegitimization should not be spoken of in terms of “someday,” it should be a basic program of the anti-psychiatry “movement” worldwide.)

        No doubt even then there will be some who continue to call themselves “psychiatrists” and consult people using that label. But as a parallel policing apparatus it will be a spent force.

        One problem with this is that the A.M.A. is also a corrupt monolith which should not be considered the authority on what is considered “medicine.” Either anyone should be able to call themselves a “doctor” or no one should. Most people who “voluntarily” see psychiatrists and are not facing forced commitment are still responding to the influence of a monolithic media, school and employer pressure, and corporate totalitarianism in general.

    • I don’t think laying down a dogma that says ‘If you are not for abolishing psychiatry you are not antipsychiatry’ is particularly helpful. In fact, I would think that it would aid those who want to insult us by calling us “fringe”

      Two separate issues here. I agree with the first sentence. From what I have seen the terms are somewhat interchangeable, and it does seem that among those who have come to an anti-psychiatry perspective (as opposed to a “critical psychiatry” one), a majority also like to call themselves “abolitionists.” However I think this is largely semantics and not worth drawing ideological battle lines over. Especially until those who use the term “abolitionist” specifically define which definition of the term they mean.

      However, as per the second argument about basing what we do on what others might say, I couldn’t disagree more. We must base our analyses and actions on what is CORRECT. Possessing the truth is ultimately the best way of attracting support in the end, especially once it is finally recognized that one has maintained an unpopular but correct position in the face of resistance and even slander.

      • We’re getting closer to the truth. Good. Psychiatry, as Szasz so clearly articulated, is the “science of lies.” Psychiatry is anti-truth. Bringing the truth to light and exposing the lies of psychiatry is an essential element in the abolition of psychiatry and in antipsychiatry in general. It would be a blessing to humanity to abolish the institution of psychiatry and to do away with the entire therapeutic state or the psycho-pharmaceutical industrial complex. But this would just remove the superstructure. It is worth our time to put out all the fires that the dragon of psychiatry has ignited… but what more noble quest could there be than to slay the dragon of psychiatry?

  5. Thank you for forty years of community service and the formation of the Coalition against Psychiatric Assault.

    This is a great article in introducing significant problems caused by different definitions of “antipsychiatry.” I understand “antipsychiatry” to have two meanings; the first is related to being “against” the field of psychiatry (as lacking legitimacy as a medical science) and the second is being “against” the practice of psychiatry (for coercion and pushing drugs). Unfortunately, linguistics is about usage (and the power to define usage) and the power currently seems in the hands of reformists; defines “antipsychiatry” as “an approach to mental disorders that makes use of concepts derived from existentialism, psychoanalysis, and sociological theory.” I advocate against the legitimacy of psychiatry as a medical science and will continue to use “antipsychiatry” to connote abolition rather than reform.

    I have followed your work and wanted to join the Coalition against Psychiatric Assault because the organization’s name is the most articulate (and I agree with the website). However, while you contend that CAPA is open to everyone who advocates abolishing psychiatry, the guidelines (being voted into the group after attending two meetings) restrict most abolitionists.

    Best wishes, Steve

    • Furthermore, the way I see the Movement currently, which I have stated before, is that we are so large that organizing and even communicating between us has become extremely difficult. We don’t have a head count. Also, many are in the “coming out” stage.

      What I highly dislike, and this, too, I’ve stated before, is the “ranking” of members according to how long we’ve been off the drugs. To me, this isn’t even relevant! I don’t care what someone else puts in their body and I’m not one to judge. What I think is truly sad, and representative of oppression and slavery is that I see many, including those that claim to be in the Movement, going to three or four appointments per week with a “counselor” and as addicted as ever to appointments! What kind of hypocrisy is that? Dependency, neediness for so called professionals…And they claim to be out of psychiatry, but barely functioning due to therapy addiction! If anything, for a few, getting off the drugs has made them miserable so they cling more tightly than ever to their beloved therapists like three-year-olds. That reeks of being a nutcase all over again.

      Ditch it all and learn to live on your own. That to me is recovery from the System. I guarantee if anyone out there learns to make their own decisions, to stop relying on these prostitutes in offices, you’re gonna have much better quality of life. Live!

  6. BRAVO!! Abolition is indeed the most vital element. However gradual or careful it should perhaps be, it must happen and it must finally be absolute. To paraphrase Lincoln, we must work “…until every drop of blood drawn with the psychiatric lash is repaid by another drawn with the antipsychiatrist sword.”

  7. I just don’t have time or the will to burn mental energy needed to attempt to define anti psychiatry.

    Its easier to just say something like “the movement for human rights and informed consent in mental health” if I have to name what we are doing.

    Takes a few extra keystrokes but it is not that difficult.

    “restore basic inalienable human rights to the field of mental health, including, but not limited to, full informed consent regarding the medical legitimacy of psychiatric diagnosis, the risks of psychiatric treatments, the right to all available medical alternatives, and the right to refuse any treatment considered harmful. ”

    Copy paste works too.

    • It’s important to define the term, because otherwise you get people running around using it improperly and “muddying the waters” of understanding, as Bonnie points out in the article. For example, “I want to abolish ‘forced treatment’ only” is a reformist argument because ending forced “treatment” is necessary but not sufficient to constitute an anti-psychiatry position.

      • I agree. The word antipsychiatry has been twisted around a lot. Others that have been misused or misconstrued end up falling out of use, overused and then died, or replaced for clarity’s sake.

        The F word was extremely popular among some comics in the 1980s. However, overuse of the word obliterated its shock value. We agreed that even now, it can be used but should be done sparingly.

        Think of the use of certain musical instruments. Too many cymbal crashes will weaken the power that a single crash would otherwise have.

        There’s the other issue of occasionally being asked if I’m a scientologist, just because now and then I use the antip word.

      • Reforming forced treatment is a reformist position. Abolishing forced treatment is an abolitionist position. Abolishing forced treatment, as far as forced treatment is concerned, is not reform. Its abolition, kaput, no more.

        You’ve got reformers who want more force, and you’ve got reformers who want less force. What reformers don’t want is no force. You don’t get abolition, no force, through reform.

        • Abolishing forced “treatment” and doing nothing else is reforming psychiatry. Words have meanings.

          Abolishing psychiatry, in my view, is like abolishing astrology or soothsaying or religion.

          None of those things are currently considered branches of medicine.

          • Yes. But astrology, fortune-telling and (to some extent) religion are all legal. People continue to visit astrologers, fortune-tellers and clergy.
            Psychiatry is an abusive, unhealthy relationship. But, just like I have girlfriends who refuse to leave their abusive boyfriends because it’s true luuuuuv! And I’ll die alone if I leave him! Wah! There are people convinced that their shrink is their LORD and Messiah who brings them salvation in the form of Prozac. Good luck convincing them that this belief is a delusion!

        • How is it even possible to “reform” forced treatment? Oh I know, locked doors that are not really locked but held by velcro. And how about restraints that don’t exist! Lie in this bed and stay there in total agony imagining we tied you here. Do I see an upcoming Vonnegut novel? After all, dead white guys are the writers that matter, so……

      • I want to abolish ‘forced treatment’ only” is a reformist argument because ending forced “treatment” is necessary but not sufficient to constitute an anti-psychiatry position.

        I disagree in terms of pragmatism if not in principle.

        While I have often offered my analysis that a position cannot generally be considered anti-psychiatry if psychiatry could adapt and continue on basically unscathed, the issue of involuntary “treatment” is a fence straddler. Theoretically psychiatry could continue as a profession, at least for some time, without court-ordered compliance.

        But if one considers coercion as the essence of psychiatry — as I think Uprising said here elsewhere — it is also arguable that elimination of coercive psychiatry would ensure the collapse of psychiatry in general within a relative short time. Especially if “coercive” were not narrowly defined as “court-ordered.” So again we’re back to arguing semantics.

        There is no “correct” way to “do” anti-psychiatry, it is obviously a work in progress. Once we have achieved some actual victories — of which we have had exactly zero over the past forty years — we will be in a better position to make such evaluations.

        • Mental health reform is usually a matter of legislating for more coercion or less coercion. Force is very much at the heart of this reform argument, in which “no force” is not seen as an option…because that would mean abolition of coercion, and an end to this type of reform.

          Other than that, I’m not sure what a person would mean by psychiatry reform, unless they are talking about its relation to big pHarma and big Govt. (dis-empowering it takes us back to the fight against force), that is, ending corruption, and as for it’s abolition…Well, do you mean the institution, the word, the practice, or the theory? And if all four, do it!…*whistling* I’ll watch.

  8. As long as I stay in the aisle of guys/girls that have a mental illness it doesn’t matter to me how it’s defined. I know that I like where I’m situated within the spectrum of is there a mental illness or no mental illness. I look at it like in terms of mean, medium, mode, false positives, and false negatives.

    With that a picture appears and it’s somewhat what Larry Davidson mentions at end of his continuing education series on mad in America website.

  9. First who can re-place Psychiatrists in MH System , are neurologists. Out-side medicine psychologists are first *pick*. MH System and forced treatment, will survive Psychiatry down-fall, if this will ever happened. Anti-Mental
    Health movement is the only way forward.

    • For people with problems legitimately located in the brain, neurology would be the logical choice. If they ever did find a structural abnormality or neuro-chemical imbalance causing extreme prolonged sadness or loss of touch with reality psychiatry would become superfluous, since the neurologists could take over from there. This makes me wonder if the psychiatrists are actually trying to find such things, or if they’re claiming to be always on the verge–always very close, but no cigar–to bolster credibility without actually discovering enough to make their cherished profession obsolete.

        • Yes and neurologists tend to be acutely aware of the adverse side effects of psych drugs because they get patients who are having neurological side effects from these drugs. I had pretty much all the symptoms of MS. I saw a neurologist and he was the first to point out to me which of my drugs was causing each side effect. This was one of the first indications to me that I was being poisoned. My psychiatrist wouldn’t even entertain the notion that there was anything wrong with me having these side effects because I had an SMI and needed the poisons, I mean drugs, er, medications… Seven months off of the last of the neurotoxins and I’m not sure I’ll ever not be light sensitive (Lamictal) or be able to handle heat (Latuda). So yeah, yay for neurologists!

        • bc harris, I have known neuros who will curse psychiatry under their breath! They see the damages!

          Also, look into the work of Grace jackson, MD. She is a psych but what she does is amazing in her observations of the harms. And she has seen many harmed people, especially the elderly who were on these substances for decades.

          As the Prozac generation gets older we’re now seeing the consequences. It’s not pretty.

    • Opposing the mental health movement IS the only way forward anyway. “Mental health” is a brainwashing term. What you’ve got is a “mental health” treatment movement. In more definitive terms, a brainwashing torture movement. De-criminalize, de-medicalize (tolerate) madness, and no problem. Crazy is back in the picture because crazy is as crazy does, no matter how hard and deep you try to hide it. Crazy is going to break back into the world, just you wait and see.

      • My experience differs from yours, Frank. From what you say I gather you were behaving in unusual, but legal ways, that upset some nit-pickers for some reason. You were then locked up and tortured or “treated” against your will. Indeed that must have stunk!

        My problems were real. I actually was suffering some kind of emotional backlash as a college freshman. (Sometimes I think God has punished me for not forgiving the kids who sexually harassed me in high school.) Something similar to what they call PTSD perhaps.

        I was worried sick to leave my dorm room. I became unduly suspicious of others watching me and laughing at me. I was profoundly sad, afraid to talk to anyone and wanted to kill myself but was afraid of Hell.

        Finally my therapist sent me to a psychiatrist. He put me on 6 mg of stelazine. That did take the edge off my anxiety–for a while. In the end it was no solution to my pain any more than whiskey would have been. 🙁

      • I had my first “psychotic break” [sic] when I was in college, too. My feeling is that these things most often begin at some point during the transition between childhood and adulthood, at least traditionally. There is no “mental illness” there whatsoever. Instead what you’ve got is a spill along the sometimes rocky road to adulthood. You pick yourself up, you brush of the dirt, and you keep on going. What you don’t do is listen to the hogwash coming from the “chronic mental illness” industry, the “mental health” treatment movement. Instead, you let statistics be statistics, and as the song goes, Live and Let Die.

        • Frank I think the reason adolescents and young college age adults get roped in is because of the natural risk-taking in that age group. Plus we learn quickly, and are more open to new ideas. This makes a person prime target. We aren’t tied down in a marriage yet, still in many ways “seekers.” We may be going through ordinary teenage experiences yet we might more quickly fall for their lies, maybe simply because of a young person’s openness to try something new.

          Then, the doors behind us clicked shut. That sound, which would become all too familiar, again and again. We were slaves…..

          • Well, when hateful families are involved in scheming to get family members scapegoated, and thus put in their place in that regard, what often gets “roped in” ends up being “adult children”, an oxymoron and fiction. Will they ever get to be ‘adult adults’? Probably not if psychiatry (a tool for those hateful families) has anything to do with it, and that’s why it is good idea to brush the whole system off. Paternalism can keep people locked into these losing relationships vis a vis those who gain from the other’s loss.

          • Julie, your comment about MISUNDERSTOOD above is SO RIGHT! (sorry, I’m a little behind in time-line)

            The reason adolescents are so susceptible to crisis (besides the trauma factor) is that our Western society has no “coming of age” initiations.

            The Rite of Passages are now – drive a car (16) – go to college (18) – learn to drink (21 and, um, before), have sex (whenever??). But they are not formally acknowledged by community and society, and in fact – many of these initiations must be done on the sly, they are forbidden in our society. So they are not formal, socially acceptable initiations.

            Even the Amish have the Rumspringa, after which they are formally accepted into the community.

            Adolescence is a vital and important time, and too many people have been medicated from the “crisis of growing up” where there could have been a “coming of age initiation” to prepare them.

            There are so many things we are not taught – how to express feelings, how to communicate, how to resolve conflict – and all of these skills come into play as we try and navigate our way through college. Our initiation is like the parent who taught the kid to swim by throwing him in the river – here ya go, pup, now swim! Some of us can survive that – many of us need more support as we make the transition from childhood to adulthood. From supported (if you had it) to responsible.

            For me, college was my first time free of an oppressive religious home, and I had the equivalent of “breakdowns,” but didn’t “get caught” until much later in life. If I’d been caught then, I might still be babbling in restraints somewhere.

          • JanCarol, Even now, many who are still devotees of the Mental System tell me pimples are horrible and should be medicated, as should cramps, headaches, sore throats, etc. They also ask me how on earth I can live without a doctor. I’ve had one of them ask me how I cope if I “scrape” myself. I gotta laugh. I admit, back in my slave days I really did call the doc every time I fell down and “scraped” myself.
            If you fall down, you got two choices.

            Door#1: You can lie there in the road and call you doctor, and stay lying there, waiting for him/her to return your call, but in the meanwhile, the cops might pick you up and take you to the nuthouse.

            Door #2: Get up.

            We do have choices. And life isn’t always easy, nor perfect, nor nice. People are generally uncaring. The weather sucks sometimes. And that’s the way it is. Tomorrow, it might be better.

  10. Rachel
    Most of people who enter Mental Health, were never scanned with MRI. But many were scanned at first, with CT. I was amoung those, too. But CT don’t show in many cases brain cysts or even tumors. Quite easy is to label people with *mental* illness, if you use CT, heck it won’t show anything at all! This is why so many *crazies* are scanned with CT! MRI have *power* to destroy Psychiatry. Finnaly I was scanned with MRI and they find pinneal gland cyst. Brain cyst or tumor can change brain-chemistry. But until isn’t *removed* , you will be *insane* forever. Also hormones are way more important in Biology Of Madness, as most people belief.

    • MH experts keep the brain washing torture system going. No doubt about it. I think some people realize the problems accruing to privilege and elitism, and the need to get past those things. Of course, I could be wrong. Keeping people in their places is a full time job for the mental health bozos.

      • MH “experts” claim to be life’s sages. It’ s bullshit according to the UN, because we are each the expert on our own experience. According to the CRPD there’s no such thing as lacking competence, no lesser humans. I love that. But when will the mainstream see the light? The UN declaration regarding depression not being a viable medical illness is amazing, one of the highlights of 2017 in my opinion. If this were put into action, into the laws of each country, it would be a landslide victory for our Movement.

        • This is because depression isn’t a viable illness unto itself, but a collection of signs and symptoms that has varying causes. The medico has to tease out the correct one(s), so that he/she can use the correct treatment (not musical drugs) from the beginning.

  11. Bonnie, I noticed your question to those who aren’t ready to identify as antipsychiatry: “What is stopping them from taking an abolition position?”

    I could offer you a couple of my own answers. One is that I think identifying as antipsychiatry is actually a much weaker position than identifying as critical of bad psychiatric practice. I notice for example that when I critique psychiatrists or those who support bad practice, they usually immediately want to label me “antipsychiatry” – they like doing that to critics almost as much as suggesting that critics might be a Scientologist!

    The reason they like labeling critics as “antipsychiatry” is that it makes critics appear to polarized in a dogmatic or thoughtless fashion, rather than someone with a reasoned critique.

    For example, for any member of the general public, all they have to do is think of any problem a psychiatrist might legitimately help with, and then to them an “antipsychiatrist” sounds like someone who would mindlessly try to prevent this help from being offered.

    I agree with you that being “moderate” on every issue is not correct, and that it makes sense for example to simply be “anti-racist.” But some psychiatrists do sometimes help people in a non-oppressive way, so psychiatry in general is not something so thoroughly bad as racism, even if it is largely terrible.

    Being critical of bad (well, most) psychiatry is a much stronger position: one is only taking a stand against something harmful, and one is clearly grounded in a concern to prevent harm, rather than some dogma or fanaticism or overreach.

    I critiqued the abolitionist view this post:

    I wonder, what stops you from recognizing the weaknesses in the abolitionist view?

    • But some psychiatrists do sometimes help people in a non-oppressive way, so psychiatry in general is not something so thoroughly bad as racism, even if it is largely terrible.

      Yes, a minority of individual psychiatrists can be helpful at times because they don’t act like psychiatrists. This is no defense of the institution.

    • If I go up to someone to educate them on anti-psychiatry, I start out not by telling them that mental illness isn’t real. Instead I point out how none of the treatments actually seem to work. Then I ask them why there are no brain scans or spinal taps done (to check brain chemistry.) This gets them thinking for themselves and works a lot better than if I start shouting the Cliff Notes’ version of Anatomy of an Epidemic and the major works of Statz and Peter Breggin.

      • I start out not by telling them that mental illness isn’t real. Instead I point out how none of the treatments actually seem to work.

        That’s technically irrelevant. “Work” to do what? Make someone more “manageable” or less annoying to others? By those standards psych “treatments” often “work,” to the detriment of the “patient.”

        • “Work” to help people maintain better relationships, work for a living, and quit wanting to kill themselves (and sometimes others.) Most people in the MI system are not needle-raped every month. That would be pretty expensive. For 20+ years I remained “meds compliant” because I had been misled to believe these neurotoxins worked. The vast majority of “consumers” believe these magical pills work. Try telling them otherwise and they become defensive, sometimes angry and even vitriolic. They see folks in the antipsychiatry movement as a bunch of old meanies who deny their experiences of emotional pain or psychosis. According to these misinformed people we just want them to suck it up, quit faking it, and deprive them of the “life-saving wonder medicines” their health and sanity depend upon. I have been there and used to think this way. Many of the folks who strongly support the MI System are themselves consumers. We need to remember this!

          Btw, more “normals” might become antipsychiatry if we could convince them that:

          1. SSRI’s have been linked to most mass shootings that were non-terrorist.
          2. By not drugging people long term they will probably be able to work for a living instead of living on disability at tax payer expense.

          • Oddly, I took the pills for my eating disorder which was never acknowledged, so THEY thought they were giving me pills for bipolar…but if I said, the pills were “working” I really meant, in secret, that they were improving my eating disorder.

            I think for most of them, they’d assume the pills “worked” if I complained less. But sadly, they had no clue all those years of what i was suffering from. I laugh now, I think it’s hilarious how stupid they were.

    • Being critical of bad (well, most) psychiatry is a much stronger position.

      Semantics aside, all psychiatry presents itself as a field of medicine; as such, even if individuals may sometimes benefit from something they encounter in the course of psychiatric involvement, this is not because of but in spite of the psychiatric milieu. So in terms of its basic presuppositions — i.e. the existence of “mental illness” — all psychiatry is bad. To be opposed to it is the strongest position of all and has the greatest moral resonance as well.

    • OldHead, Bonnie, FeelinDiscouraged, Julie, and KindredSpirit are right… Perhaps it would be helpful to take a closer look at the word “psychiatry” and ask the simple question “Does it make sense?” In other words, what does the word “psychiatry” mean? It means “the medical treatment of the soul.” Is such a thing possible? No. Of course not. First of all, psychiatrists generally don’t know what a soul is, as defined by the Ancient Greeks, by Christians, or Jews, or even by non-religious people. How can they then claim to provide “treatments” for something that they can’t even define? Even if a psychiatrist could be found who knew what a soul was, how could he or she claim to “treat” the soul? As Szasz points out, psychiatrists and so-called medical professionals have simply replaced the clergy. Psychiatry is the false priesthood… read Szasz to find out more about that.

    • I notice for example that when I critique psychiatrists or those who support bad practice, they usually immediately want to label me “antipsychiatry”

      Which shows how much they fear and loathe the term, thus how much power it has and why it should be embraced. It brings those occasionally obscured lines between “professional” and “person” into sharper focus — especially when they start “accusing” you of something which should be a no brainer anyway (and which you are not, at least not at the moment).

      And again, labeling life as a disease is a bad practice.

      • Hi Oldhead, you may imagine that the psychiatric people I talk to sometimes “fear and loathe” antipsychiatry, but I’ve been in these conversations, and it’s obvious to me that the term is one they see as making someone easy to dismiss, like calling them a Scientologist or a flat earther or a racist. What they have a much harder time dealing with, what they can’t easily dismiss, is someone who has a clear focus on what’s wrong with particular psychiatric practices and who can articulate why these practices are harmful.

        • What about the fact that the entire profession is based on a mythical and impossible construct? Once one has gone through the looking-glass to what avail is rationality?

          Those you mention are commenting far more upon themselves than anything when they hurl insults and ad hominems; it seems that you should be able to easily point out what they are doing when they bring up Scientology as an “argument.” This clearly violates multiple rules of logic; demonstrate this and you win the argument, at least in the eyes of the unbiased observer.

  12. I’m anti-partisian.

    I talk to people in recovery if they are in therapy or not. Take medicine or they don’t. Say they have a mental illness or they don’t.

    I don’t place myself higher than others and tell them what to do. And I don’t let other people write about me and place me above them either. I would call someone who did that my enemy before I accept their compliment at expense of others.

    That’s why people of other ethnicities dont author here even if they agree with you because it’s obvious that’s what your doing.

    I actually lose respect for people that write with an all or nothing attitude.

    • This is a very heterogeneous group at MIA. More so than the NAMI groups or other “consumer” forums. We have our share of secular progressives and atheists, but we aren’t all this way any more than we’re all caucasians. I am an evangelical Christian, a member of the GOP and believe capitalism is a feasible economic system when people are not consumed by selfishness and greed. (Socialism will also fail when people are selfish and greedy, plus it encourages laziness.) I find nothing incompatible with Christianity and opposing the maiming and killing of innocent people in the name of “science.” Nothing unchristian about fighting Josef Mengele. (Btw, he was a real doctor with medical papers to prove it. And a truly evil man.)

  13. I just want to say I am thankful for this website because I feel those of us who have been hurt by the mental health system have little elsewhere to find information and mutual support. Families tend not to believe us or care. Society at large refuses to lend us an ear. And from my observations now even Churches are sending their members to this same system. People who enter are totally unprepared for what we all know will happen to them. I feel we should work together regardless of silly small non issues since our greater common goal is similar as we want to help those who have suffered or is still suffering in this system.

      • Oldhead, who gets to decide? I still am frustrated when Lauren got attacked for her article because she partially supports the medical model…I still believe she could be an incredible asset if she could win her case at the Supreme Court level of New York State. I understand her position may be a trigger to psychiatric survivors as well as her economic position be a trigger in our toxic cultural state in this country, but if she could win that one case, in one of the biggest states in the union it could send shock waves throughout the nation and yet she got nitpicked for not being ‘pure’ enough…this group runs the risk of alienating good allies if it insist of a litmus test instead of accepting a little more pragmatic viewpoint…

        • Lauren got backlash because it didn’t appear to some of us that she was truly in this movement for the herd. It appeared that she was in it for personal vindication of the injustice done to her while still naively believing that psychiatry does good. Her economic privilege may be the only reason she got away so easily.

          • I do understand WHY she got backlash, and yet I think that backlash was short sighted!!! And I understand the power of triggers as I have helped my wife thru so many. Whether or not Lauren is in it for herself is irrelevant to the fact that IF she can win this case, it would be a massive win for this movement, but everyone is so concerned about her ideological purity and her motives that we are missing the importance of her case and that she can be an ally even if she is ‘outside’ this movement…

          • As long as people are willing to engage in civil discourse there is hope. I’m fine with Lauren posting here. But she is a “missionary project” right now rather than an advocate of our movement against psychiatry. She also thinks that in order to qualify as “severely mentally ill” you must be violent. Not true at all!

          • I thought madmother13’s comment was on point and that Lauren’s hostile defensive response might have been different if she understood why many of us feel that the biomedical model and search for genes is a modern form of eugenics, since once you identify a gene as bad, it can and does lead to abortions to prevent having children with those genes, or attempts to correct those genes as is now possible with technologies like CRISPR. So it’s hard to fault madmother13 for her response.

          • You aren’t the only one on that thread attacking her. Steve is trying to engage and teach her…you and others are attacking her for her naïveté, social standing, partial acceptance of the biological model, use of ‘you people’ etc, etc…

            again if this group makes ideological purity and bottom lines and whether or not to use a hyphen in a word some kind of litmus test, that’s its prerogative. I’ve been told by higher ups that there’s a good chance I’ll never really be acceptable to this group because my wife refuses to ‘speak for herself’ and therefore my story will be considered ‘invalid’ by the survivors wing of this group even though I have walked thru hell with my wife instead of walking out like so many other SO’s have, sigh…

            Again this group is free to be as exclusive as it wants and is free to attack any and all who can’t or won’t subscribe to its various ‘bottom lines’, but then it loses the opportunities that others might bring with them…

          • Actually I wasn’t attacking her when I pointed out that many might find “people like you” alienating and even patronizing. Supporting psychiatry/expressing dissident views is one thing, but insults are another. I’m willing to swallow the insult and get on with things. Others may not be and I was merely stating a fact. Words have meaning. (Yes, I realize Lauren had herself been insulted by a commenter and her anger was understandable given that she was honestly trying to help us.)

          • I think it would be a good thing to point out the difference between a criticism of someone’s beliefs and attacks. There were no attacks on that thread as far as I could tell. There were a few, including myself, who spoke bluntly about how we see her positions but a lack of diplomacy and speaking ones mind is not the same as an attack. I specifically said I don’t know her and think she’s probably a perfectly nice person. She still advocates for a position that I find rather indefensible at this point and think she should educate herself before posting here. And she comes across as a bit classist in that, while she points out her relative privilege, she can’t see that that privilege means she’s been insulated for the most part against the kinds of abuses, and the chronicitu of such abuses, those without her privilege face. And the snobbish attitude of “I’m not interested in helping those who won’t help themselves” ignores that most can’t afford to hire attorneys to gain access to their psychiatric records and that there is a very real threat of retribution against many psych patients for speaking out. So let’s just be clear that criticizing those positions, as well as pointing out ignorance, does not equal an attack.

          • FD and KS, I’m sorry if I misrepresented your intentions, but that is clearly how she felt. I’m not saying I don’t have a LOT of issues with what Lauren was saying, but clearly the editors of MIA thought she had something of value to add to this site, and instead I have to wonder if Lauren regrets sharing. It’s not just WHAT we say but HOW we say it that is important, and especially when it comes from a faceless keyboard it’s even more important if this site doesn’t want to run off people who could be allies even if they don’t understand the full scope of the issues…

          • Sam, I’m not blaming the editor’s for this. If you’ll notice, her actual published story didn’t include any of the biomedical model stuff that she’s been going on about in the comments section.

            One of the things that upset me about her comments was the one where she strongly objected to being diagnosed with bipolar. I guess depression is an okay diagnosis but bipolar is an SMI and she doesn’t have that! And rather than promote the idea that maybe many other people are misdiagnosed with an SMI, she talks about her genetics and her lack of violence.

            So if she had taken the attitude that she was using her privilege to help others in the same situation (instead of asking others to help her), or spent the comments section doing so instead of getting all huffy, I’d have gone easier on her.

          • KS, I think I understand your position AND hers, but reading the interactions from kind of an outsider’s position, it was like a feeding frenzy as she got picked apart and the more that she said that showed her ignorance on the larger issues and acceptance of the biomedical model, the more everyone ‘attacked’ (or informed) her how wrong she was.

            Anyway, it all just goes back to the question of MIA’s mission and attitude in general. How exclusive or inclusive is this website and movement going to be? Or what ‘bottom lines’ (going back to this blog) are going to be drawn? Lauren isn’t the first guest blogger to get picked apart in the brief time I’ve been participating more fully on this site. Anytime someone doesn’t fit the narrow definitions of this site, they get attacked, and I wonder, run off…

          • Let me be short and clear about how I see this regarding Lauren and others since you apparently see this as ideological purism:

            I don’t think survivors who have at the very least read the MIA book, are informed about what’s actually going on in psychiatry, owe guest bloggers an easy time if they come to this site promoting misinformation that’s contrary to the mission of this site (as I understand it.) What you view as piling on, I view as multiple voices giving multiple perspectives in differently measured ways. I also don’t have much sympathy for someone who uses silencing and shaming tactics to get a leg up in the discussion.

          • And that is completely the right of this site to lean that way. It’s kind of why I was told my voice would never be seen as ‘really’ valid on this site without my wife’s presence. I understand that this site sees itself as a place for survivors to have the voice that they NEVER got when they were abused by the system…unfortunately that ‘voice’ often means piling on others who might be able to be ‘cultivated’ into better allies if they weren’t attacked and silenced when they reveal their ignorance of the larger issues…

          • Sam, we simply disagree that it is an attack when one person says something and multiple people respond with different information. I don’t view any of the comments on that thread as an attack. As far as I know, there are no elected representatives on MIA to come in and speak for the others when a blogger or anyone else posts misinformation. That seems to be what you’re advocating for so who do you think it should be? Who should represent us so we don’t pile on? And what if that person is busy? Should we have a vice-representative? Should they put their response to the group for a vote before publishing it?

            In my personal opinion it does have more impact when the regulars on a site back each other up. And I personally wouldn’t want the kind of system you seem to think should be in place.

            The comments on her blog were all fairly civil and level headed. We’re all adults. She ran a successful business, was the CEO, I’m sure she’s run a few meetings where people disagreed and they had to come to some kind of consensus without anyone stomping their feet and leaving the room. Please don’t infantilize her or others.

          • And let me add that as far as you and your wife are concerned, from what I’ve seen, you’ve received an overwhelmingly positive response to your presence here. I’m not sure who the “higher ups” are that you’re referring to since I’ve never had the pleasure of talking to any of them, but right now you are coming across as having a bit of a chip on your shoulder for the perception that your voice here hasn’t added value. All I can say is that that is a common complaint of allies. I’ve seen it in the women’s movement from men, in the LGBT movement from straight folk, in antipoverty circles from those with privilege who dismiss the voice of the poor. So please, understand that while you have a place and a voice, the discussion will never be about you unless the topic is about caregivers. End of story.

          • The only truly rude and angry comment came from MadMother13. Lauren got pretty angry and defensive in response. Judging from the comment, I would say MM was in a rough place and perhaps forcibly drugged, recently electro-shocked, or otherwise traumatized.

            Always assume the best of people till they give good reason to believe otherwise.

          • Sam, KindredSpirit and I have feelings too. Even if we are not rich and powerful enough to curry favor with in the hope of making us “valuable allies.”

            When I pointed out how Lauren’s phrase would probably offend people, I was trying to help her be more diplomatic and avoid Ross Perot’s mistake. And yes, I was also concerned about the penniless nobodies on this blog. I believe they have feelings as well….

      • I also think it is very possible to be civil regardless of whether the articles are big or small. We can be honest and still be respectful. That goes double for authors who post here, as it should be clear that reactions are expected and normal, and that not all posters will necessarily communicate as diplomatically as could be wished.

  14. be a future without psychiatry, anyone who entered a hospital would still be at risk of psychiatry-like coercion, drugging, and physical abuses including assault, restraints, deprivation, and solitary confinement. I submit therefore that there is a larger problem in medical settings it that they’re staffed by various medical personnel who have the right to do things to us that they don’t want done. My awareness of this comes from discovering what happens to elderly people who for one reason or another are transported to emergency rooms. Those with Medicare throb like pulsars and attract the attention of administrators with beds to fill and not enough workers to run full wards safely.

    Here comes tiny Aunt Edna. She fell at home and has a scrape on her right hand and bruises on her left leg. She seems fine, but perhaps she should stay overnight for observation.

    Crap. It’ only been two hours of IV fluids, and already, the old lady in 20B is trying to get out of bed. Crap squared–she’s heading for the bathroom. She can’t be allowed to use it, though. She’s a fall risk. We’d better install a catheter. Did we do it wrong? Darned if she doesn’t have a UTI now. Okay, it’s time for her brain CT. What is she doing? Trying to get off the gurney? Quick, grab her, and if she kicks you, we’re going for the Haldol. Ah, worked like a charm. Someone get that new resident and see if she’ll order restraints, though. We Do Not Have Time For This Bullsh*t. Either way, I’m going to write that Edna was combative, because she put up a devil of a fight when we put her back in bed the last time. Is constantly saying she wants to go home a sign of dementia? She’s said it at least ten times since she got here. I’ll put “dementia” with agitation as reason for admission. We have to scare up a doctor who’ll agree that she should stay here a few more days, or at least until she’s stable. Is that her screaming? Time for some Vitamin H. Just do it, IV. Worst case, Dr. Wallace will prescribe it when he gets here in the morning.

    • Very true! Very sickening!

      Churches have turned pro-psych for 3 reasons I think. One nice. The last two pretty nasty.

      1. People who suffer prolonged sadness or lose touch with reality need help. I agree. Unfortunately they will not find real help or long term solutions in the Psych Industry. If real help were offered it would not have to be forced on them; they would go out of their way to get it!

      2. A lot of the rich, prominent members of American churches are professionals. Especially medical ones (those belonging to the psych establishment.) Churches will go out of their way fawning on and currying favor with wealthy married people. They ignore poor singles. Who will they listen to? A wealthy medical professional in the mental “health” field with the required wife and 2.3 kids? Or some marginalized loser who can’t find work and never could marry thanks to the “help” she received at the hands of the psych industry? Take a guess.

      3. A lot of the folks in the mental illness system act in weird and annoying ways. Being extremely lonely, distressed and drugged out of your gourd will do this! Going off the drugs will cause problems if it’s done too quickly, as we know. Instead of putting 2 and 2 together–Dave is out of his mind because he’s experiencing DT’s, it’s easy to think Dave is crazy cause he went off his meds again! Just like his doctor said.

      Put Dave on double his original drugs. Cause Dave needs to be taught a lesson, darn him! He’s still not great company. Sits around gazing vacantly with his tongue poking out and rocks quite a bit. Hey, at least he’s not pacing now! He doesn’t bother the rest of us by talking about his stupid problems nobody wants to hear or his grandiose plans to become President. Woohoo! Problem solved. Let’s get on with our lives and let Dave rot in the corner.

      But first, let’s all pat ourselves on the back for the kind, benevolent humanitarians we have all proven ourselves to be. Cause we lied to Dave to get him locked up and “treated” so he’ll quit bothering us. Unselfish altruists that we are! 😛

    • Better Life, this is one of my greatest fears about aging — trying to reject something I consider a dangerous drug or procedure, then having an ageist system define me as incapable of making reasonable decisions and forcing on me whatever they choose. Especially if I had cancer of some sort.

      We have allies in this fight potentially, especially as the vaccine industry pushes through more & more laws “for the children” requiring parents to “vaccinate” them with god knows what toxic concoctions.

      • I’m scared about it too. Thinking the best route will be UNINSURED. Because right away they milk your Medicare and assume because you’re retired you have nothing better to do than sit in a doc’s office or do time getting unnecessary “treatment” in a “hospital.” I’m considering going totally uninsured so that milking doesn’t happen. They NEED to fill beds, remember? Elderly are targeted and we’re called stupid or worse if we refuse.

          • In my opinion many people, especially those on Medicare are simply cash cows. Recently I was “admitted” in haste from an emergency room when it seemed they were fishing for reasons to fill beds. You could tell they needed to get their numbers up. I refused and walked out AMA. I am disgusted that when I tell them I’m “retired” they think I do nothing all day and would rather be in a doc’s office. NO! I have rarely seen doctors at all in the years since I left psych in the dust. I am so, so much healthier. I did NOT go to Uruguay to milk their healthcare system, either! I did not want “better healthcare.” i wanted NO HEALTHCARE. Healthcare doesn’t lead to health. It leads to early death.

            I wanted to stay as far away from doctors of any kind as I could. Unfortunately many of the “studies” assume “not seeing doctors” means poor health. Huh? From what I can tell, those that spend three days a week in appointments are far less healthy than those of us who avoid the medics like the plague. An apple a day, right?

            The last time I spoke to them over at the ER, which of course I ran away from as fast as i could, was that they were insistent that I be “followed” by a kidney doctor. I asked why, and they couldn’t quite answer that one. Nephrology is a cult of hopelessness and almost all of them believe kidneys cannot be restored. Yet i hear amazing first-hand stories of those that defied this, didn’t see the assigned nephrologist, and then, lo and behold, they did restore their kidneys. I keep wondering if instilling a hopelessness mentality is what kills people.

            Likewise, seeing a mental health professional instills the notion of permanence, tells you you’re difficult to treat, or that you need long-term “care.” Or even that you’ll be stuck on drugs forever. This alone kills many, and that recent JAMA study showing that being hospitalized increases suicide rate 100-fold is certainly aligned with this notion.

          • Though the “mh” system definitely profiteers off of Medicare and Medicaid, it doesn’t make much sense to me to deny everyone health care for actual medical conditions for the purpose of preventing such “mh” profiteering.

          • Frankly, I’m with Julie on this one. There are plenty of doctors who will tell you the best way to protect your health is to stay away from doctors. Doctors have pushed so many unnecessary procedures on me – foot surgery that caused me far more pain afterwards, hysterectomy that lead to chronic pain and corrective surgeries, one doc wanted to do an exploratory in my ear because I’m the only successful case of an experimental procedure using fetal pig’s heart tissue to graft an inner ear that hears, another ENT that wanted to give me a cochlear implant even though I had 80% of my hearing restored! A dentist wanted to send me to have maxomandibilar advancement suggesting it would cure my sleep apnea, ignoring my tiny trachea that simply won’t take in enough air without pressure… The push for ever more surgery has died down only as a result of Medicare cuts. I didn’t know any better when I was younger and just let them operate.

            It might also force people to actually care for their bodies. Americans seem to think it doesn’t matter what they eat or if they sit on their @$$ all day because there is a pill to fix whatever goes wrong.

            I shocked my doctor by changing my diet and exercising when she told me I was prediabetic and had borderline cholesterol. It’s been six years since she said I neede Lipitor and my numbers are perfect now because I take some responsibility for my health.

            I walk every day right past a McDonalds. I see the size of the people that eat there. A friend who is the same age as me, she chose to take the meds and had to have a stent put in. We’re not even 40 yet!

            My dad died as a direct result of his lifestyle habits – being cared for for the last 17 years of his life. I was the one who recognized he was having a stroke. I was only 15 when that happened.

            So, no, maybe people need to take some responsibility for their health. Or start taxing all the unhealthy things people do. I should not have to pay for the insurance of people who eat crap, can’t be bothered to exercise, and then need pills and procedures to fix their ills.

          • A lot of non-mh care is coerced. You find out when you are older and they push the unnecessary screenings and such. Coercion is highest in psych of all sorts, but also it’s there in other branches of medicine.

            For example, I tried suggesting to people to take fish oil, or at least try, but the usual response is, “I’d have to ask my doctor.” Ah, they don’t even know they are slaves. They won’t even exercise claiming they have to get “doc permission.” It is frustrating for me to deal with this outright brainwashing, and the media goes along with it, too, product of the medical profession’s claim of false authority.

            What if drugs could be obtained without a prescription? Wouldn’t this weaken the authority and financial power of the med profession overall, especially drug-centered shrinks? In Uruguay you can get anything except psych drugs. But if you speak to the Farmacia people they’ll give them to you, or some will.

          • Julie, he whole notion of getting your doctor’s permission to exercise boils my blood. I suspect that line of crap came from health clubs not wanting to be sued for underlying medical conditions being exacerbated by vigorous exercise. There are very few people for whom a daily walk wouldn’t do them more benefit than harm. Indeed, there was just an article here at MIA about how exercise works better for people’s mental woes than any type of MH treatment.

          • Right, Julie. And while we don’t always agree, I appreciate knowing exactly what your opinion is without any beating around the bush and diplomatic feel good crap to soften the blow.

          • Kindred I am not keen on euphemisms! I don’t know when it was, sometime after I got my MFA in creative writing that I suddenly realized I DON’T OWE IT TO ANYONE TO WRITE NICE!

            I do feel a sacred obligation to write what is true. I must be true to myself and write what is real even and especially if it stings. I am not obliged to write perfectly. That’s not the goal of art. We’re human, not perfect machines. That is the beauty of memory and how we experience life. Storytelling is vital. No one gonna stop me, though they tried.

        • As someone who was too poor for insurance in the USA (and was “too rich” for Medicare or Medicaid or Disability because I could work 20 hours a week) – and who has moved to Australia –

          I don’t think that medical insurance is the road to hell quite like you pave it.

          I have choices in my treatment. My private health cover that helps with acupuncture is cheaper, because there is a base which is covered by the single payer system here.

          Yes Australia has abuses just like the USA, and people are locked up and force treated. Yes, Medicaid and Medicare patients are milked and it’s criminal – scraping the bottom of the barrel so that the fat cats at the top have a bump in share price. It’s evil!

          But now that I have escaped the USA, I have choices here – because of the single payer system – that I would not have in the USA. Choice is a good thing.

          The problem in America isn’t health insurance (or lack thereof) it’s inequality. Anything which levels the playing field – like single payer health insurance – has got to be an improvement.

          Studies show that it is inequality which drives emotional distress and spikes the rates of “mental illness” and violence in a country. And the USA is one of the most unequal in the world.

          I haven’t acted pro or nay on the repeal. I see people suffering at the bottom of the barrel – like my mother, my little sister. Medicare and Medicaid take away your choices. Universal health care, single payer systems, open up choices.

          I am pro choice, when it comes to healthcare, even though I’m terrified of doctors. Maybe ESPECIALLY because I’m terrified of doctors, I want the freedom to choose which doctors and under what conditions I will see them.

          • FYI:

            Anna Westin Act of 2015
            Introduced in House (05/21/2015)


            Sponsor: Rep. Deutch, Theodore E. [D-FL-21] (Introduced 05/21/2015)

            House – Energy and Commerce;
            Education and the Workforce;
            Ways and Means

            Latest Action: 06/03/2016 Referred to the Subcommittee on Health. (All Actions)

            This bill requires the Office on Women’s Health of the Department of Health and Human Services to revise, promote, and make freely available the BodyWise Handbook and BodyWorks obesity prevention program [SEE NEXT REPLY]. The handbook must include information about eating disorders relating to males as well as females.

            The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration must award grants: (1) to integrate training on eating disorders into existing curricula for health, mental health, and public health professionals; and (2) to states, Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and educational institutions for seminars for school personnel on eating disorders and to make resources available to individuals affected by eating disorders.

            The National Institute of Mental Health must make public service announcements on eating disorders.

            This bill amends the Public Health Service Act, Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), and Internal Revenue Code to prohibit health insurance coverage from permanently excluding a particular condition from mental health or substance use disorder benefits. Mental health and substance use disorder benefits include residential treatment.

            The Federal Trade Commission must submit to Congress a report that contains a strategy and recommendations to reduce the use in advertising of images that have been altered to change the physical characteristics of the individuals depicted.

            Disordered eating encompasses one or more of the following types of behavior:
            [Note that it says just ONE is enough to meet their definition of disordered eating.]

            ◆ Skipping meals. [This is crazy.]

            ◆ Restricting food choices to a few “acceptable” items. [The scare quotes are condescending and insulting. If the kids are choosing from what’s on offer in the vending machines in the community college I attended two years ago, they’d be correct in saying there were only a few acceptable items. It’s like General Mills wrote this thing.]

            ◆ Focusing excessively on avoiding certain foods, particularly foods that contain fat.
            [Even if it’s hydrogenated vegetable oil?]

            ◆ Binge eating, particularly snack foods and sweets. [Define binge eating, and explain why binging on chicken kiev is any less bingey than binging on snacks and sweets.]

            ◆ Self-induced vomiting. [The best kind, if you ask me, and a perfectly healthy thing to do if you’re having a bout of nausea from those psych drugs they put you on to “treat” your “disordered eating.” The old finger down the throat is a 100% effective and safe way to bring instant relief from a sometimes-debilitating condition. Waiting until you vomit spontaneously is self-induced torture.]

            ◆ Taking laxatives, diuretics (water pills), or diet pills. [even if they suffer from constipation, menstruation-related water retention, or have more adipose tissue than is healthy?]


          • “Disordered eating can also be an early warning sign of an eating disorder.”

            “Susceptible individuals may go on to develop an eating disorder from which they cannot recover on their own.”

            That’s written as though no one has ever recovered from an eating disorder on their own. Yet, for example,

            Eat Disord. 2012;20(2):87-98.
            Self-change in eating disorders: is “spontaneous recovery” possible?
            Vandereycken W.

            A limited series of community studies including non-treatment-seekers has shown that a considerable number of eating disorder patients do not enter the health care system but can be considered “clinically recovered” (remission of major symptoms) if followed up long enough.

            The possibility of “spontaneous recovery” (overcoming an eating disorder without professional treatment or formal help) often faces scepticism on the part of professionals.

            Clearly, self-change is an underestimated pathway to recovery from an eating disorder, but open-minded clinicians can learn a lot from it.

      • I have been following Mike Adams’ Natural Health newsletter. Unfortunately conspiracy theories abound. And some of the commenters are too right wing even for me! (One denies the holocaust, another claims that circumcising babies is some evil movement to keep men from having happy marriages, and some claim germs/viruses/bacteria do not make you sick!) Mike Adams himself is not too “whacked out” in most of his articles. He’s not some anti-semite holocaust denier either. His own ancestry is mixed: causasian, afro-american, and native american. Natural News makes a great place for anti-psychiatry views as you can imagine. I may submit articles to them in the future. Adams doesn’t write them all.

          • Any practice is going to have its quacks. Cancer docs, auto mechanics, too.

            If there’s one thing I know about quackery, no quack out there is going to make a penny without redeeming qualities mixed in. So, say, a quack preacher is going to mix in some truth into his sermons. A quack car salesman gives out free coffee that’s the best coffee in town (before he rips you off).

            It’s a basic marketing rule. If you want to convince them you’re the nicest guy in town, put on a great front and give stuff away.

  15. My Dr. is great. She talked to me on the phone on Saturday ( I love small town living). She feels I’m in the middle of a midlife crisis and believes a weekend trip hiking and camping will allow me to let off steam.

    Sjr thinks it’s best I stop reading mad in America. So long and farewell.

  16. So I guess I’ll at make at least a couple premeditated assertions rather than simply reacting to other comments.

    I think the most significant thing about the blog and commentary is that it represents a milestone of sorts, i.e. the point where modern anti-psychiatry discourse has grown to the stage of having factions. This is encouraging to an extent: arguing over the politically correct way of framing anti-psychiatry is at least raising the level of discussion, as it moves the “middle ground” closer to an anti-psychiatry consensus. This is better than spinning our wheels and endlessly reinventing them in repetitive debates over “critical” vs. anti-psychiatry.

    Nonetheless, there’s too much of an “armchair revolutionary” aspect to this argument about the semantics of anti-psychiatry and “abolition,” and too much clubbing each other over the head with competing interpretations of linguistic innuendo. There are many openings which could be explored if the intent is truly to unite the greatest number of activists around an anti-psychiatry consensus. For just one example, how about making an effort to identify aspects of psychiatry which are not “coercive” — or to study whether this is even possible; if it is definitively concluded that “voluntary” psychiatry is a myth, outlawing coercion might be literally equivalent to abolishing psychiatry. And then all this would be moot.

    It seems to me that in any case the 1-2 punch of outlawing coercive “treatment” combined with delegitimizing psychiatry as a field of medicine would have the effect of eliminating psychiatry as a mass threat. How to get there is what we really should be starting to figure out and focus on if we’re serious about this, not what to call it when we do. In my book one is anti-psychiatry if they would like to see psychiatry gone, and harbor no illusions about “improving” it or about needing “alternatives.” Figuring out how to get to that point is something we should be doing cooperatively, as in the end this is not a debating competition, but supposedly an attempt at discourse.

    There’s a lot of yin-yang going on here. On one hand it’s important to have specifically-defined terms which mean the same things to everybody, and to carefully and dispassionately discuss, debate and argue the comparative merits of each. On the other, as my oft-cited boyhood hero Abbie Hoffman once said, “Words are the ultimate in horseshit!” 🙂

  17. Antipsychiatry the 1-2 punch plus the # 3 punch possibly, collaboration with and/ or endorsement of the principles within The International Declaration on Health Freedom written in 2006 at The World Health Freedom Assembly. This might create more elbow room for freedom and increase the number of real allies we have in the sense of larger actual numbers of people showing up for demonstrations if they are called for . Below I’ll leave a link to the Organization and the place where the declaration is printed out. What do you all think ?

  18. This comments section is long, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to respond to replies to comments. But let me just clarify a few things. Old Head is right. The voices of survivors, and particularly survivors who know the truth about psychiatry, ought to be heard above all else. The voices of “professionals” who know the truth about psychiatry ought also to be heard, especially and particularly when these voices are in support of survivors, and not for their own professional advancement. But all antipsychiatry voices can be united in a common purpose. Regarding Szasz’s rejection of Laing and Cooper’s so-called “anti-psychiatry” and Szasz’s libertarianism: Bonnie has made it clear that Laing and Cooper’s so-called “anti-psychiatry” was not really antipsychiatry properly understood, and that therefore Szasz was not rejecting true antipsychiatry, but the fake “anti-psychiatry” of Laing and Cooper. Szasz probably would have embraced Bonnie’s efforts to reclaim the term “antipsychiatry.” Furthermore, Szasz was mostly right about most things, particularly that human beings are free and responsible agents, and that psychiatry works contrary to both freedom and responsibility. But Szasz was confused about a couple of things as well, as his ultra-libertarianism and atheism show. Even so, he can be pardoned for such misunderstanding because he saw more clearly and understood more deeply than anyone why psychiatry is fraudulent, and how psychiatric deception is connected to philosophy, history, politics, medicine and so forth. The attempt to dismiss Szasz because of Scientology is also fraudulent. Someone brought up this problem earlier, and it is a valid concern since many seek to use the term “antipsychiatry” as a label to dismiss the truths that antipsychiatrists set forth. In some ways I would prefer to call the antipsychiatry movement the pro-liberty and pro-responsibility movement, or simply, the pro-freedom movement… because that’s the basic principle that unites us. We are all pro-freedom. Psychiatry is anti-freedom. There is no part of psychiatry that is in any way non-coercive because psychiatry is by definition the art of coercion and force. Szasz was somewhat confused about this because of his extreme libertarianism. He did not articulate as clearly as he could have that freedom is inextricably connected with truth as well as with responsibility. There is no freedom in ignorance.

    • Laing and Cooper’s so-called “anti-psychiatry” was not really antipsychiatry properly understood, and that therefore Szasz was not rejecting true antipsychiatry, but the fake “anti-psychiatry” of Laing and Cooper

      I agree with the gist of this though some may quibble about details — Szasz was talking about antipsychiatry as a school of psychiatry, which he rightly opposed. But he also opposed outlawing psychiatry, as he saw this as freedom of choice. As you mention, the primary contribution of Szasz was his deconstruction of the medical model and hence psychiatry itself, not his personal politics. (Btw what is an “extreme” libertarian? — I thought you were a libertarian.)

      In practice, the 1970’s mental patients’ liberation movement was the first true anti-psychiatry movement — at least as practiced by the “vanguard” groups in California, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. It was held together as much by passion as analysis, but remains the example to which subsequent efforts must be compared. (See the quote from Judi Chamberlin in my related post.)

      • Laing and Cooper’s antipsychiatry was not really Laing and Cooper’s antipsychiatry, R. D. Laing rejected the term. Laing called ‘the antipsychiatry movement” of the time a movement on paper. David Cooper’s antipsychiatry was a product of the times in which it was conceived. When Cooper calls LSD, cannabis, etc., anti-drugs because they are not thorazine, benzos, what have you, well, untrue, they are drugs. I see his version of antipsychiatry as a part of transformative counter cultural change, and opposing the establishment.

        I remember at an International Conference on Human Rights and Against Psychiatric Oppression a woman saying she was against antipsychiatry because it was developed by psychiatrists. I had some familiarity with what had taken place at Kingsley Hall, and my feeling was I’d much rather have the option of residing in an experiential residence like that than be stuck imprisoned for a term in a state hospital. The Laingian experiments, in time, have gotten a much badder rap than they deserve. Today it’s like, here are these experiments that are a part of 1960s excess. That’s not my way of thinking about them, but there is much of that out there.

        Laing, despite coming up with a different kind of environment, never disavowed involuntary treatment. Szasz absolutely opposed non-consensual coercive psychiatry. Szasz blasted other psychiatrists for supporting coercive practices. In this regard, Szasz is very much a hero. That said, Thomas Szasz was a psychiatrist, and he had to distance himself from those, many of them psychiatrists at the time, associated with antipsychiatry.

        Until 1985 our mental patient liberation/psychiatric survivor movement was mostly against psychiatry, and quite literally, at least as far as impute went, antipsychiatric. Many people, a growing number, are still there. On the other side of the coin is the mental health alternatives business in which collaboration with psychiatrists is part of the game. Their numbers may be growing, too, but so is the blatant absurdity of the system they represent.

        For Szasz, anti-capitalism was an insult, and anti-communist was a complement. It is not so for everybody in the world. Antipsychiatry Squared is worth reading for Szasz approach to the subject alone. He read up on almost everything written on the subject, and he was very informed. Many, many of the people referred to as antipsychiatry in Antipsychiatry Squared, just like Szasz, would not have applied the term to themselves. I see the initial antipsychiatry notion as an improvement over coercive bio-psychiatry, and step towards where we stand today. Szasz, on the other hand, thought of antipsychiatry as worse than mainstream psychiatry. Yes, that’s the antipsychiatry of psychiatrists, and a contradiction in terms. Now onward to the antipsychiatry of people outside of, but opposed to, psychiatry, for instance, psychiatric survivors, their friends, and allies.

  19. While doing some research on how survivor leadership was maintained during the peak of the mental patients’ liberation movement of the 70’s I came upon this brief but interesting quote by Judi Chamberlin (the “godmother” of the movement) referring to the term “anti-psychiatry”; I thought I’d share it:

    Although the terms have often been used interchangeably, “mental patients” liberation” (or “psychiatric inmates’ liberation”) and “anti-psychiatry” are not the same thing. “Anti-psychiatry” is largely an intellectual exercise of academics and dissident mental health professionals. There has been little attempt within anti-psychiatry to reach out to struggling ex-patients or to include their perspective. . (Judi wrote this in 1990.)

    Since we seem to be getting closer to a point where these issues are again relevant, I would say in retrospect that, in effect, the “mental patients'” movement WAS the anti-psychiatry movement at that time, even as Cooper et al. commandeered the term itself. I know that as 1980 approached more and more people were using the terms interchangeably. That all ended with the advent of “Alternatives” and the “peer” industry.

    • Couldn’t she also be talking about “anti-psychiatry” in the original (Laing, Cooper, et al.) sense here?

      I also don’t see the issue of survivor leadership as being directly relevant to this particular conversation. A so-called anti-psychiatry agenda without at least tolerance of abolitionist language is not truly anti-psychiatry (according to logic), regardless of who is arguing for it.

          • Anti-fascism and anti-racism don’t demand a belief in the abolition of fascism and racism for a very good reason. Realism. The important thing is to fight fascism or racism. Nobody is under a delusion that it might be eradicated, at least, not over night. They, fascism and racism (sexism, too), are rather like the hydra in ancient mythology fought by Hercules, cut off one head, and two more grow back to replace it. Abolition in anti-psychiatry is more complex than abolition in anti-slavery. Slavery was an institution that existed in only part of the world. Slavery was undoubtedly coercive. Psychiatry is rather more pervasive, somewhat more than an institution alone, it exists throughout the world at this time, and, the degrees of coercion involved, when and if you are dealing with any, vary. What was once the survivor movement did worse than go liberal which it certainly did. I see rather more complexity in the issue than that, and I don’t think we gain with an over-simplistic answer, that is, I wouldn’t require deception on the part of people who want to join the battle against psychiatry and psychiatric oppression before they can do so.

          • Frank, you’re either misinformed about slavery or are deliberately defining it very narrowly. Many cultures throughout the world have used some form of slavery or indentured servitude, or currently use slavery. If you have a smart phone, the minerals were probably mined with child and slave labor. Many argue that the high incarceration rate in the US combined with corporate profiteering off of unpaid or extremely low paid prison labor amounts to modern slavery. These things happen because we see prisoners and people in the 3rd world as subhuman. Incrementalism in psychiatry will allow for the same result.

          • I don’t have an argument with you on this score, kindredspirit. I’m talking about the chattel slavery in the USA south that led to Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation, and gave us the 14th amendment to the US constitution. Workshops, child labor, prison chain gangs (work details), sex trafficking, and coercive psychiatry, all can constitute a form of slavery. Indentured servitude existed in this country at one time. I thoroughly agree about prisoners and people in the 3rd world, too, nor am I for incrementalism in the battle against psychiatry. I just think that that battle is more important than any hypothetical future scenario. We don’t have to get hung up on details. We have to deal with things the way they are, and that is that.

          • Anti-fascism and anti-racism don’t demand a belief in the abolition of fascism and racism for a very good reason. Realism. The important thing is to fight fascism or racism. Nobody is under a delusion that it might be eradicated, at least, not over night.

            No one is demanding that anyone believe a certain thing; we are talking about the abolition of psychiatry as a goal. Abolishing fascism and racism are absolutely the goals of the movements you mentioned. It’s only with psychiatry that you have people such as yourself demanding that it be preserved. I think this is because not enough people here are taking psychiatric oppression seriously.

          • I’m demanding the abolition of non-consensual coercive psychiatry. That’s the goal I aim towards. I’m not demanding anything be preserved. I’m just not demanding the abolition of consensual non-coercive psychiatry. Non-consensual coercive psychiatry is the law. Consensual non-coercive psychiatry is a matter of personal choice. I’m against mental health law, the thing that makes institutionalization possible. It’s bad and oppressive legislation that needs repealing. In lieu of the likelihood of doing so, there is the CRPD which would accomplish essentially the same thing, and which, of course, I support.

    • I think things have changed since Judi’s time. Those I would call anti-psych are either survivors, ex-providers, or providers-turned-patients and either way, we all got utterly disgusted. Sometimes patients become providers but they are USUALLY not abolitioninsts, since look who pays them! Or it’s tough road to be on due to the irony they must have to face daily.

      • Judi’s time? She died in 2010, and that was only 7 years ago. I’d think, at this point, her time is still our time.

        You’ve got many new mental health careerists who used treatment, in one capacity or another, as a gateway into the mental health field (or the “disability” field, same thing), now that the “peer” movement is so big. Some of them get work with government agencies so it can look like they’re doing much to “help” their “peers”. This makes the matter even more absurd, that is, they are careerists, and their careers perpetuate the system that extends this absurdity, increases the overall number of “peers”, and oppresses so many.

    • Although the terms have often been used interchangeably, “mental patients” liberation” (or “psychiatric inmates’ liberation”) and “anti-psychiatry” are not the same thing. “Anti-psychiatry” is largely an intellectual exercise of academics and dissident mental health professionals.

      ~from OldHead’s Judi Chamberlin quote.

      Actually, if rejection of the role of mental patient hurts the psychiatry profession, it could be said to be antipsychiatric. Imagine, liberation from the state loony bin. Not good for the psychiatry business, nor for the related organized crime of its drug company cronies. Psychiatry promotes the manufacture of mental patients. Non-patients, that’s not a very psychiatric concept, and it’s not going to bring home the bacon for Dr. So and So. These two movements happen to overlap, although it goes the other way with the more nefarious mental health (treatment) or mental patients’ enslavement movement, as I like to call it, colluding and collaborating with psychiatry. The mental health movement is much more friendly to the idea of “countering stigma” with “cool” and “trendy mental disorders”. The more, well, maybe the merrier is not the right word to use, you’ve got your company nonetheless. Promote non-patient-hood (i.e. liberation), and you are not feeding the “mental illness” industry, with its experts, many of whom are psychiatrists.

      • Actually, if rejection of the role of mental patient hurts the psychiatry profession, it could be said to be antipsychiatric.

        Sort of what I was getting at. There are some organizing efforts (CRPD would be one) which could have the overall effect of crippling and delegitimizing some of the most heinous psychiatric practices. So regardless of whether they identify publicly as “anti-psychiatry” these efforts should be recognized as legitimate components of the anti-psychiatry movement and supported.

        • So regardless of whether they identify publicly as “anti-psychiatry” these efforts should be recognized as legitimate components of the anti-psychiatry movement and supported.

          Yes, they absolutely should be supported, but we shouldn’t identify them as being anti-psychiatry efforts when they are not. It leads to the kind of confusion that we see in this comments section.

  20. Just wanted to share an experience, and observation, that I think is relevant to the article, and particularly what Julie has been bringing up regarding community supports.

    Recently I reached out to an old friend after being off the radar for a while, and basically was just looking for some support and validation. Sometimes it just helps to hear from someone who has known you throughout your life. I did not get a response, so I started reading online various reasons people give for not responding to people. There was a lot of, “the person shared something personal and I didn’t know how to respond, so I said nothing” and “the person seemed depressed and really should go see a doctor!” type comments. My god, with all of the ways we can communicate with each other now, in seconds, have we become so programmed as a society to automatically amateur diagnose and recoil from people? People are scared to offer simple validation, or don’t know how?

    What’s a person to do? Fortunately I do have a few other people in my life who I can talk to. There have also been times where I was dealing with some things, and did go see a therapist, and thought paying someone to listen was a good option because I either didn’t have real life supports at the time, or I thought the things I was dealing with were too heavy, and I didn’t want to burden people in my life with it.

    I guess what I am getting at is I agree with the big picture movement. Generally speaking, though, as a society, we really need to do a better job with basic empathy, community & social supports. Not sure how that is going to play out when there is this huge push to diagnose and medicate, and at younger and younger ages? And talking to people who think this is the right thing to do, and doing otherwise is negligent, is an uphill battle. Getting people to see what’s really going on is key, but not an easy thing to do. Also doing a better job as a society, supporting people and knowing how to be with them in their suffering, is important. Otherwise I’m not sure psychiatry/ therapists l will be going anywhere?

    • I would agree. When I was in the questioning phase (questioning psychiatry) I went through a lot of grieving. Those who used to talk to me just plain stopped (out of reasons you state above) and that left me with two years of no spoken conversation in my life. I feel very fortunate that this period ended. Becoming an activist was what did it for me. I have real friends now, supportive people in my life. Not just people who push others away assuming all sorts of bogus diagnoses.

      • This was my experience too Julie!. I used to be an active member of a bipolar support group on Facebook and when I said I was going off meds, the response was swift and harsh. It’s basically seen a heresy. It’s taken as shaming of others who choose to stay on meds. The group was mostly ladies and they became very angry and agitated at any mention that the chemical imbalance was a myth. How dare I? A couple of people whom I thought had become friends wrote me off, saying I was going to ruin my life and everything I’d made of myself. Said they’d be there for me when I came to my senses. It was a shocking wake up call and galvanized my resolve to stick it out during the worst of the withdrawal period because I knew those traitors were waiting to bring me back into the fold when I failed. I’m so glad to have seen this side of the patient community because I realized how deeply entrenched I was in the mindset of being ill, and how that colored every aspect of my life.

        • Oh my god, me too! I was a member of a group of women (I actually started the group) and their thing was “we gained weight from meds.” So the whole thing was about losing the weight we had gained. I’d say this was around 2006 that we started.

          So this was a tight group of women. They kicked me out one day. Of course, what was happening was that I was “questioning.” Questioning everything, all the decades of lies.

          Questioning will lead to bullying, and I mean on both ends. I got it from my pals first, they kicked me out and started posting horrible stuff about me. Then, I ended up with a new therapist who was narcissistic in her ways of doing therapy. So I was really in a rough spot then.

          Sadly, these exfriends made up their minds I was borderline. I saw they posted this on there, saying I should be put away and that my dog should be taken from me because I was incompetent and dangerous. Oh, they went on and on and I hated reading it but kept reading. My exfriend denied the borderline bit but she was the one who wrote it. She also called the cops on me. It was actually swatting! Unnecessary police call.

          So anyway, yeah, it’s a wake-up call all right!!!!! You become the instant bad guy!!! Oh well……..I think the experience is so common we might as well say it’s almost universal. Leave the cult and they claim you’ve married the Devil. You’re possessed….contaminated.

          I have trauma reaction from it, too. I’ll never forget the day one person posted that I was “no longer human.” I copied the post, all their hateful words, and kept it all.


        • I always wonder at this intense hatred toward psych survivors by those who choose to stay in the system. One of my friends knows about my decision and supports it. But she still attributes every bad choice those in her circle make to “not taking his meds” or “her meds weren’t working.”

          I have a few theories to explain this behavior of psychiatric devotees and the payoffs they get from “having a mental illness.” Don’t have the space now.

          I would like to start an anti-psychiatry blog that would attack the false premise of psychiatry on metaphysical and religious grounds as well as scientific. Unfortunately I’m worried about preserving my anonymity. Not that mom ever reads my online posts anyhow.

          • There is a lot of “secondary gain” from going along with the system. For people who have little, it can provide an identity, sympathy from others, an excuse for failure, and protection from dealing with emotional pain from the past, just to name a few items. It can also be scary to try and escape, as one faces isolation, anger from friends and family members, condescension and/or outright hostility from providers, and serious but unacknowledged side effects of withdrawal, just to name a few. It’s kind of like an abusive relationship – it requires a lot of courage to leave and it’s a lot easier to stay, despite the intermittent or even constant pain and disrespect you receive.

          • Steve, I’d guess for many who receive disability, there’s a strong financial component of poverty. Disability income tends to leave people in poverty and I know of several people who would lose everything – money, subsidized housing, free phone, free internet, free transportation. Basically so entrenched in the system they can’t get out because they’d have no hope of providing for themselves with no work history. And if they were further disabled during withdrawal, they still might not be able to work. I think a minimum income and perhaps universal healthcare (done right and not coercively) would lift an awful lot of people out of the disability rolls, and that actually may happen because of automation in industry. I’ve been hearing talk about it across the aisle.

          • KindredSpirit, another solution would be to award psychiatric survivors benefits on the grounds that they were indeed disabled from iatrogenic damage. Unfortunately no one admits that these “safe and effective” poisons disable people during and after taking them.

            My hope is to earn enough as a freelance writer (it can be done if you avoid content mills) to get off the dole. Tough to do right now when I feel like I have the flu most days.

            There are some psych survivors who freelance as life coaches. This is good, but we could also use job coaches and small business consultants for our movement. Freelancing/solopreneurship seem like solutions to working with a spotty work history.

        • It is the job of a tribe to make sure you are unsuccessful in your efforts to be free of it. That’s why conformity is such a powerful control on behaviour.

          Even worse when, as KS says, they are financially dependant upon the system for their very survival.

          FD I like your idea of iatrogenic damage payments. As a “cost of doing business,” right? Like the lawsuits?