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.


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  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.

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      • I suspect there is a difference between Bonnies’ ideas and Julie as Julie is anti therapy and Bonnie is, amongst other things, a therapist.

        I wonder if either of the two of you could elucidate on this further?

        I read Masson’s book Against Therapy and while I have some sympathy with his views. After all Soteria House was set up by a psychaitrist, run by carefully chosen people who had n training and who got to talk to a social worker about what was going on once a week yet they had brilliant outcomes.

        David Smail wrote an essay comparing therapists and prostitutes. He wrote that prostitutes sold sex and therapists sold love – or something near it.

        I am not against therapy myself but niether do I put therapists on pedastals.

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        • I am not “anti-therapy” and do think it can be very useful, On the other hand, I am against therapy that pathologizes, that depoliticizes, that is involuntary, also even kind empathic therapy that turns itself the centre of the person’s existence. The point is that there are all sort of ways for people to deal with their issues–not one. And don’t think we need more therapists in the world but less. Less professionals in general, and more people helping one another. Less professionals and more real community.

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          • Bonnie,
            I’ve been watching this conversation from afar, not really feeling much since I kept my wife completely outside the system while she has been healing, but I guess, I’m a little frustrated that commenters are mixing the need many people have for ‘therapy’ with the horrors perpetrated by forced psychiatry. The two issues are completely different imo.

            And, respectfully, Julie, it takes more than just ‘good friends’ to help someone heal from the extreme trauma that distorts so many childhoods and leaves people without the emotional life skills so necessary as an adult. I see it all the time on WordPress as abuse survivors bemoan their desperate need for help and not having a clue how to implement the things their somewhat naïve therapists tell them to do.

            Our son and I are BOTH deep attachment figures for the girls in my wife’s d.i.d. system, but he is simply a ‘big brother’ figure to the girls, while I am extremely intentional about what I do to help them heal, connect to each other, tear down the dissociative walls, and learn the life skills that my wife’s parents never taught her.

            Now I will admit that my wife/my girls don’t like it when I ‘preach’ to them or get ‘formal’ in what I’m teaching them, so I have to do a lot of life-modeling, but without me there to gently and almost invisibly guide them, there’s no way in the world they would heal like they are doing.

            So, I’m all for anti-psychiatry and antipsychiatry and abolish and reform. Take away their ability to FORCE themselves upon the rest of us, and they have no teeth, so I really won’t care after that if they wither and die or just scream in a vacuum without the ability to violate the rest of us. But where I draw the line is the backlash against psychiatry swooping up the need so many, many people have for quality help to overcome their childhood trauma AND the need they have to learn the lifeskills the rest of us got by ‘osmosis’ while we lived in more healthy families. I applaud Open Dialogue and other similar initiatives that involve families and understand the need for ‘therapy; but also the need for them to FACILITATE the many things they can’t do because they aren’t ‘in the trenches 24/7’ like we family members are.

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          • Samruck, you bring up an excellent point that dealing directly with trauma is an area that “therapy” seems to be missing. And this is one of my main criticisms of this method. They do not take into account that and the sociological aspects of life itself. I have, literally had a friend that was seeing a therapist and she had extreme difficulty in finding a job, despite her education and a lot of the solid experience she has. Well, she came to me and we talked and I broke apart the numbers of unemployment, how they’re calculated and also the broke down the labor participation rate and what’s going on there. Anyway to make a long story short, she complained to me about her therapist only looking at her ability to get a job and to “pull herself up by her bootstraps” looking at it as “her issue” and not looking at the big picture. When she confronted her new therapist about what she had learned about “the economics” of it, and her new found information, she was told to ignore the news articles on unemployment and the economy.

            I think we’re too much of a society of “what’s wrong with you that you’re having so much difficulty” and the blame game ensues instead of looking at the reality and how to deal with it. Trauma is one of those issues which should be dealt with on how to “prevent” it from happening again. Reinvent the system so that children aren’t abused or their chances of experiencing trauma become smaller.

            There is also a sociological issue. We need to look “big picture” instead of just trying to tell the individual that they need to change what they do only. And it is getting worse. Trying to change the system has gotten more difficult. I have another friend that son was protesting and now is facing 25 years in jail. We can’t even demonstrate anymore. And I just thank god, he wasn’t 5150’d.

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        • Bruce Levine has a Ph.D. in psychology or psychological counseling. Ironically he seems to hold his graduate degrees in contempt and says his training has little application to how he helps people.

          The quality of therapy I have received has less to do with their advanced degrees and more whether they saw me as a human being to help or a disease to treat.

          Aside from an occasional counseling session with a non-certified psych survivor, I have no therapists and am doing fine.

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          • I consider myself emotionally “injured.” However, since the majority of these emotional injuries occurred directly and sometimes indirectly from the MI System, it’s doubtful any “treatment” they offer will help me heal.

            It’s like going to a doctor for a sprained ankle and having him smash your kneecaps with a baseball bat!

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          • I am critical of it as well. At the same time, feminists have always used the words differently–being very clear that they are using the word metaphorically and that it is to be understood as a metaphor only .

            Which is not to say that I am recommending feminist therapy. Again, the emphasis on professionals seems to me mistaken. Moreover,There are, alas, lots of feminist therapists that have harmed survivors in one way or another. Only that it needs to be thought of differently.

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    • I fired my last certified therapist when I realized she wasn’t even hearing what my actual troubles were. I was suffering severe social isolation, exacerbated by my single status.

      Her solution? “Hurry up and get it on! You ain’t gettin’ any younger.” (Paraphrase.)

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      • 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!

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  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!

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    • Kindred Spirit, much thanks for your thoughts here. Re the issue of being called a “radical”, while people may see it as an insult, I very much accept the term profoundly see myself as a radical. the “roots” of the word radical are mportant here, for it literally means “roots”. To be a “radical”, ergo, is to go the the roots of the matter. And really, what else is worth doing?

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    • 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.

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  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.

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  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.

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    • I always find it hard to know, Frank, whether the issues between us are just semantical or more than that. Please note that I never defined “abolition” in this article or any where else as meaning “wising it off the face of the earth”. Nor did I suggest that a person could not consult “a shrink” only that the “shrink” would not be given the authority of being a medical person, for psychiatry would be delegitimizes as such and not longer qualify as medical.

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      • Interesting post, BTW, and thank you very much for it. Perhaps this is not the place to indulge in arguing fine points. OldHead often sees semantics behind this problem or that, however, I think there are real matters of substance to consider, and that wording is very important in some instances. I agree with much of what you say in this post, I just think there are matters that have not been properly hashed out philosophically that we are going to have to deal with at some time.

        I don’t disagree with there being much that is bad in non-coercive psychiatry. I would imagine that ‘abolition’ would mean ‘wiping it off the face of the earth’. I’m fully in favor of doing so in so far as forced mental health treatment is concerned. I just think that it would be difficult to go much farther than that, and for me, being a victim of force, getting rid of force assumes a priority over getting rid of anything that is unforced.

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        • I doubt that many antipsychiatrists would argue that abolishing force would be a good first step. However, I have to agree with Bonnie that the ultimate goal should be abolishing psychiatry as a legitimate branch of medicine. It’s the medical illness aspect of psychiatric diagnosis that perpetuates the harmful treatments in the name of curing/treating illness as the root of mental distress. I don’t see that your view of psychiatry being a philosophy is in any way counter to this goal. Psychiatry can be a branch of philosophical thought without masquerading as a medical science. Taking away the medical nature of psychiatry is no different from abandoning other outdated areas of practice such as Barber-Surgeons and Alchemists. Personally, I think there will come a day, maybe not in my lifetime, but one day, when modern antibiotics will be considered barbaric (given the damage they do systemically to your microbiome). Medicine is in its infancy and in its neievity, claims to know more than it does, including that it can treat social ills with controlled drugs. You only need look at the ketamine debate to see how a drug can slip back and forth between all bad illicit substance to newest psychiatric fad cure!

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          • I’m also all for abolishing psychiatry as a legitimate branch of medicine, however, abolishing psychiatry as a legitimate branch of medicine is not the same thing as abolishing psychiatry.

            “Mental illness”, the subject of psychiatry, is not a valid term, but just try convincing psychiatrists and their clientele. Yes, much harm comes of it. That much harm comes of it doesn’t put us outside of the realm of free discourse on the subject. Psychiatrists and their clientele often have a different view on the matter.

            I don’t know that I would say medicine is in its infancy. Psychiatry, on the other hand, is bogus medicine that has more to do with social control than it ever had to do with actual healing or symptom relief. Alright, you’re singing to the choir here. Getting beyond the choir, and that’s why I bring up my concerns, that’s the issue.

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          • I’m also all for abolishing psychiatry as a legitimate branch of medicine, however, abolishing psychiatry as a legitimate branch of medicine is not the same thing as abolishing psychiatry.

            Psychiatry is, by definition, a medical specialty; to strip it of its medical authority is to abolish it.

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          • No, to annihilate it, to end it, to eliminate it, that is to abolish it.

            Yes, psychiatry’s pretense is that of being a medical specialty. Delegitimize it and that gig is up. It is, however, far from the only flake diversion posing as some form of science, and not providing licenses to charlatans doesn’t necessarily prevent them from practicing what may not be medicine.

            Psychiatry is out to treat people for diseases that aren’t even real diseases. There are certainly plenty of people who literally aren’t sick who feel that they are sick to keep things going for some time to come. Abolish charlatanism, if you can.

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          • I doubt that many antipsychiatrists would argue that abolishing force would be a good first step.

            How many “antipsychiatrists” are you familiar with? While there is no “official” definition of what constitutes anti-psychiatry, I believe that a majority of those who define themselves as such would consider the abolition of force as the paramount issue, as well as the best way to cripple and ultimately topple the industry. Without force and the threat of force if one doesn’t comply voluntarily, the major underpinnings of psychiatry’s political and economic base would be gone.

            Still to go would have to be official sanctions of psychiatry as a field of medicine, as well as state sanction of psychiatry in courts, prisons, schools, etc. Psychiatric drugs need not be outlawed, but presenting them as “medications” would be considered fraud.

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          • Frank, respectfully, I think you’re introducing complexity where none exists, or needn’t exist. I won’t speak for others, and I’ve been known to make stupid assumptions at first glance, but I just assume that when someone says they want to abolish psychiatry, they are referring to the medical field, not the philosophical discourse of mental states. That seems an entirely different subject than the practice of mental medicine and I’m not under the impression that abolitionists are at all referring to what you are referring to.

            Yes, I know I’m singing to the choir! lol I’m also trying to understand your perspective in better detail because I’m not interpreting this the way you are.

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          • I just assume that when someone says they want to abolish psychiatry, they are referring to the medical field

            KS, don’t want to seem too nitpicky but a big problem with this sort of debate is that a lot of people are assuming what they think others mean by the term and what it implies, rather than there being a clear and commonly accepted definition.

            Frank & I are not exactly simpatico on a lot of things, but I concur with his basic objection to being told that unless he uses the term “abolition” in his pronouncements he is not truly anti-psychiatry; one can check not only his comment history here, but his extensive (largely) self-exploration of the vicissitudes of defining anti-psychiatry in the organizing forum.

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          • You’re right, oldhead, I don’t know why you’re nitpicking my comments. Psychiatry is pretty clearly defined as a branch of medicine, not a branch of philosophy. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that ‘antipsychiatry’ refers to being against the field of medicine. Frank has attempted to redefine this, in my opinion, and has rightly met resistance.

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          • OldHead, I am for abolition of forced treatment (i.e. non-consensual coercive psychiatry). I’m indifferent to the idea of going any further than that, except to say that if you’re using force to prevent people from doing what isn’t forced, it creates an issue in its own right.

            I wouldn’t demand people be for abolishing psychiatry, or make an either/or of it. While psychiatry has its medical pretenses, with psychoanalysis, it also has its pretenses of being something more than medicine proper. Basically, it is founded on false premises, but even factual premises are not going to make psychiatry go away.

            Before psychiatry, a 19th century term, there were mad doctors and alienists. After psychiatry, I dread to think what the social controllers will be calling themselves. Abolish psychiatry, in this sense, and you’ve just abolished a word that could be replaced by another word. Ditto, the institution.

            I see the entire mental health system as more pervasive than that, and every profession within it as part and parcel of the problem. Psychiatrists have taken the major portion of the blame for some time from some quarters, but psychiatrists are hardly the only bad apples in the barrel.

            You’ve said before that the mental health system needs to be dismantled. If so, you and I agree on that matter anyway. Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and peer whatchamacallits might consider scrounging around for another, an unquestionably needed, and more ethically sound, professional calling instead of the one they have been stricken with.

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          • I’m indifferent to the idea of going any further than that, except to say that if you’re using force to prevent people from doing what isn’t forced, it creates an issue in its own right.

            What does that even mean??? Who is advocating the use of force for anything???

            Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and peer whatchamacallits might consider scrounging around for another, an unquestionably needed, and more ethically sound, professional calling instead of the one they have been stricken with.

            One one hand, you want to use the term ‘anti-psychiatry’ for your limited and reformist agenda, and on the other hand, you want to go way beyond an anti-psychiatry critique and attack all these other groups. It’s just confusing.

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          • How do you abolish something without force? It’s a natural and simple enough question that follows from the discussions we’ve been having. Coercive sex is against the law. Coercive psychiatry is within the law. I think that if you’re going to outlaw forced sex, you should outlaw forced psychiatry, too. Mental health law allows mental health authorities to do things to people they call “mentally ill” that would otherwise be against the law, just like rape and other forms of assault.

            You say I have a limited and reformist agenda, that’s your opinion. I, needless to say, don’t see things that way. All these other professions collude and collaborate with psychiatry in the main. Psychiatry couldn’t do what it does, in other words, without help from them. The situation, given such collusion and collaboration, I would say, is comparable with the one that existed in NAZI occupied France. You’ve got resisters of psychiatry and you’ve got collaborators with psychiatry, I see most of the members of the professions mentioned as collaborators. I list myself among the resisters.

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          • How do you abolish something without force?

            Through legal means and political pressure.

            Mental health law allows mental health authorities to do things to people they call “mentally ill” that would otherwise be against the law, just like rape and other forms of assault.

            Yes, but no one is advocating assault on psychiatrists, which is why your likening of abolition to forced psychiatry continues to make no sense and is also rather slanderous to anyone with an actual anti-psychiatry agenda.

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          • Through police and legislative force? Locking people up and assaulting them in the name of psychiatry, oops, treating them, is perfectly legal.

            Really, but psychiatrists are assaulting people caught up in the mental health system all the time. You are talking about ending psychiatry then through legislation, okay, I will buy that, but you know, we got mental health law (i.e. forced treatment) through legislation, and so it works both ways.

            Were forced psychiatry a crime, I’d have no problem with the police force man (or woman) handlng a shrink, and locking them up for the crime. Not all force though is state sanctioned. Forced psychiatry is the law, it is not a crime, and so that is not what happens as a rule. Instead, it is the so-called patient, the person labeled, slandered by the mental health system, who is victimized by psychiatry. (“Re-traumatized” is the way some people put it.)

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      • If I had known all the facts and not been deceived, I never would have gone to a psychiatrist.

        Lies are a subtle form of coercion. Not as obvious as being forced to the ground by 6 orderlies and needle-raped. But just as disgusting an abuse of authority.

        If we could abolish all involuntary psychiatry AND all psychiatric deception/false advertising, the system would cave in on its own. No one would want it.

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    • 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.


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      • 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.

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        • 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!


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          • 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.

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          • 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.


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          • 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.

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          • 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.

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          • 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.

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          • 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.


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        • Frank, if psychiatry does not exist as a medical profession, then for all intents and purposes, you have abolished it. If people want to pay others for a certain type of philosophy or whatever who are not recognized doctors and not pretending to be, but that once would have been seen as psychiatrists, that is s a different question and no one who is calling themselves antipsychiatry is trying to stop that.

          that said, while I am not meaning to offend you, I worry about how much time so many of us have spent going around in circles with you on this question, for despite what I see as good intentions on everyone’s part, it does not seem to be productive. Which I have to say worries me.

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          • I don’t see discussion as unproductive, nor do I think it is a good idea to suppress it. You don’t have to agree with me, I don’t have to agree with you, but we should be able to present our respective cases in any discussion that takes place. I’m not expecting to convince anybody of anything straight off the bat. It may take a long time for an idea to germinate. In that case, I’ve got time.

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          • Frank

            I agree with Bonnie about the current nature of this discussion regarding the concept of, and movement to, “abolish Psychiatry.”

            We are going around in circles with you, mainly because you are “stuck” in a defensive mode of discourse here. The weaknesses in your arguments have been clearly elucidated and you still refuse to acknowledge and address these contradictions. I am done for now.

            And finally you said: “I’m not expecting to convince anybody of anything straight off the bat. It may take a long time for an idea to germinate. In that case, I’VE GOT TIME.(emphasis added)”

            Yes, it does take a long time for certain ideas and movements to germinate. But NO!!! WE DON’T HAVE THE TIME NOW TO FUTZ AROUND ANYMORE and play word games when it comes to building a theoretical and organizational presence in the world for abolishing Psychiatry.

            You can stay stuck, while others will go forward NOW to further advance this vitally important process that was initiated in years past. Frank, history must, and will, pass you by on this issue.

            I respect your stances on many other issues related to our movement, but on this issue you are presenting obstacles and roadblocks with some sort of word game of intellectual gymnastics. I am prepared to move forward without you.

            Respectfully, Richard

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          • Richard,

            I’m through with this discussion, Richard, but I don’t think I’m guilty of circular reasoning. I don’t appreciate people trying to bully me into adopting their positions, or into shutting up. I just say enough. I’m not stuck. Are you? Unless you’ve got a comment of substance to make I feel we’ve exhausted the matter. You’ve got your position, I’ve got mine. We can agree to disagree as somebody once put it. Anyway, we certainly don’t have to agree.

            Respectfully, if you like, Frank

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          • I wonder if Szasz’s position on psychiatry has anything to do with Frank’s position. Szasz was right about most things, and he was light years ahead of his time, and if Frank is drawing from Szasz, then perhaps we need to listen a little more closely. Szasz was correct that the underlying principles against which psychiatry operates are liberty and responsibility. But Bonnie and Richard are absolutely correct that there are both blatant and more subtle forms of coercion at work in psychiatry. Psychiatry is composed of false philosophy and pseudo-scientific pseudo-medicine. The two are intertwined, and the false philosophy precedes, and facilitates, the pseudo-scientific pseudo-medicine. Unless we uproot the false philosophy, we are still hacking at the branches. We need to be more thoughtfully radical in this sense, and more radically thoughtful. Great discussion.

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          • I don’t know why Frank is expected to come up with some sort of resolution here, as this debate did not begin with this blog and will surely not end with it. There is a context missing for those who are entering this maelstrom for the first time.

            Even when Frank’s logic seems circular he reflects the reservations of at least some others others who consider themselves anti-psychiatry and not “abolitionist,” but understandably don’t want to put their heads on the chopping block.

            Dragonslayer, I know from his past statements on MIA that Frank is highly influenced by Szasz’s dislike for the term antipsychiatry as used by Cooper et al., as well as Szasz’s libertarian opposition to ending anything other than “involuntary” psychiatry. (Of course, as with anything, the devil is in the details, and the definitions.) But Frank in his way basically said the same thing others are pointing out: I would argue instead that there is not much non-coercive psychiatry at all.

            (DS, I must wonder about your ascription of the truism that there are different levels of coercion to “Bonnie and Richard,” as I and numerous others here without “professional” status have pointed out the same thing. Is this possibly an unconscious and internalized tendency — as I have identified in myself — to give more credence to those with “credentials”? Because this is also form of “mental slavery” from which “survivors” need to liberate ourselves.)

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          • I AM abolitionist, OldHead, I’m just not abolitionist of non-coercive psychiatry. I’m abolitionist of coercive psychiatry. I’m not sure it would be possible to abolish non-coercive psychiatry, and non-coercive psychiatry is not a problem as far as I’m concerned. My primary objective is ending forced treatment, coercive psychiatry, psychiatric assault.

            I have obviously been influenced by Thomas Szasz, but I diverge from Szasz in some areas, too. Szasz was a fervent anti-communist, and I am an anarcho communist. Szasz aimed the brunt of his attack on antipsychiatry, his distancing himself from it anyway, at dissident psychiatry’s left wing. I see mainstream psychiatry as much worse than what was then psychiatry’s left wing, and I don’t think of mainstream psychiatry as being any less fraudulent than left wing dissident psychiatry. I think of it as being more fraudulent.

            Coercive psychiatry is the law of the land. Until that law is changed, of course, psychiatry is going to be mostly a matter of coercion. Mental health enforcement exists mainly as an adjunct of law enforcement. When this law is repealed or changed (modified), nobody should be able to force psychiatry on another person. Coercive psychiatry should be outlawed. Non-coercive psychiatry is going to be less coercive when coercive psychiatry is no longer the law, but against the law. When coercive psychiatry is against the law, you have the law on your side when it comes to combating it. If, and I question whether it is, non-coercive psychiatry is coercive, then at least you would have a legal method of protecting yourself from it.

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          • Frank, I have to disagree that there can be such a thing as non coercive psychiatry. Lying to desperate people and telling them there is a medicine that will make them better is coercion. They may not have been forcibly injected, but it is still a use of force. Then when they have negative reactions to those meds the doctors brainwash them into believing they had an underlying serious mental illness – that is force and coercion. There is no branch of psychiatry that tells patients the truth about the drugs and then says but it’s totally up to you to try them.

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          • Coercive psychiatry is the law of the land. Change that law, and maybe there would be a non-coercive psychiatry. Lying to people is one thing, buying lies is another. Doctors give patients poison, and the patients take this poison for medicine. I say there is a big difference between the person who takes poison of their own volition, and the person who takes poison because they are under court order to do so. I would deny the court the power to order people to take poison.

            Lies are disinformation, untruths. When people have been truly informed they know better. When they have been truly informed, they will know their poison from the medicines they have been told they are receiving. The truth can be redeeming for physical health, provided the damage has not been too severe, and on top of that, the truth can be revolutionary.

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          • KindredSpirit,

            I don’t think any movement gives disclaimers to their point of view on ‘the truth’. They are all coercive to some degree, and it’s kind of up to all of us to have a ‘consumer beware’ attitude. Not to politicize it, but i think it’s one of the weaknesses of the Left in their Nanny State approach. It’s great when consumer advocates are there, but it’s also made us all lazy to rely on advocates and experts rather than do our own research.

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          • Samruck, that may be more true now than when I was medicated. Google Search did not exist, most of us – if we had internet at all – were still on dialup and looking at websites made on geocities. There was not the access to information then that there is now. But I also wonder, if as bright as I am and even I had trouble coming to this conclusion, how is someone with an average IQ (100) and an 8th grade education (what I had at the time I was medicated) going to know what questions to ask to protect themselves. This whole notion that we all have the same abilities or inquisitive nature or skepticism of the system is hogwash. consumer advocates exist because the average person doesn’t understand the realities of the world we live in. They either don’t have the marbles upstairs or haven’t been yet been exposed to the truth or both.

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          • Non-coercive psychiatry is non-coercive by definition. The same holds for coercive psychiatry, it is coercive by definition. Court ordered psychiatry, and psychiatry that occurs as the result of a mental health hearing (i.e. civil commitment proceeding) is coercive psychiatry. It is coercive psychiatry by law, and furthermore, it is coercive by definition. If there are other forms of coercion involved, you will have to be more specific. However coercive non-coercive psychiatry might be, well, if it were truly non-coercive it couldn’t be coercive because that would make it a contradiction in terms, wouldn’t it?

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          • I AM abolitionist, OldHead, I’m just not abolitionist of non-coercive psychiatry.

            I said earlier here somewhere that it would be a good project — though not necessarily here — to explore any aspects of psychiatry which might be considered “non-coercive” to ascertain whether this is really the case.

            Meanwhile we’re all basically arguing about exactly what way we want to see psychiatry disappear.

            I agree that there need be no “time limits” to any particular discussion here if there’s a chance that some sort of elucidation may eventually occur. Is someone due to catch a train?

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        • 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.

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      • 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.

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      • 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.

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        • Oldhead, while I understand your point about the AMA and its like and indeed appreciate you visionary anarchism here, and while I too have a broader critique of medicine ,there are very few people who want to get rid of psychiatry who also want to deregulate medicine, and as such, in any way tying antipsychiatry to such a agenda, let me suggest, would be a profound mistake. My sense here is that an antipsychiatry agenda needs to be cognizant of, relate to, and look for the openings that exists in the here-and-now.

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        • Yes. This point is crucial. Those who are “voluntarily” choosing psychiatry are doing so because they have no idea what psychiatry really is. Once psychiatry is exposed for what it is, namely false philosophy and pseudo-scientific pseudo-medicine, then people will have a real choice in the matter. There is no freedom in ignorance.

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    • 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.

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      • I would agree with Oldhead that what others have to say is irrelevant. As moral people, we should be acting in terms of what is ethical–not in terms of whether or not others disparage yusfor it. At the same time, I do not agree, Oldhead, with saying that abolition is not the bottom line. While the definitions of abolition are not exhaustive (and few definitions of any term are) people who are aboltitionists have pretty well spelt out what they mean by it, including myself in this article, clarifying that stripping psychiatry of the power which it has, cutting the special relationship with the state, and eliminating it as a recognized field of medicine would in itself constitute abolition. Again, others would have some differences with this definititon–and I knew of few words in any language anywhere where you would not find people differing on the definition–my sense is that most abolitionists would largely agree with this definition. Which is the end as good as you can get when you dealing with language. As for the issue of not using the word, of course someone can be a antipsychiatry without using the word “abolition”. If they persistently find themselves uneasy with others using the word and keep on wanting to modify it, on the other hand, then no, I do think they are antipsychiatry, although they may want to be and although they may have an otherwise strong critique.

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        • stripping psychiatry of the power which it has, cutting the special relationship with the state, and eliminating it as a recognized field of medicine would in itself constitute abolition.

          Exactly, that’s what I said. So to nitpick about what word to use is diversionary. Lets start discussing how to get to that point, whatever semantics one chooses. If people would like to see psychiatry gone and not “improved” they are anti-psychiatry.

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      • 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?

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      • saying that someone who is not for abolishing psychiatry is not antipsychiatry is not being dogmatic. Everyone bands together on the basis in part of definition. There has to be a basis of unity that distinguishes who you band together with tht basis directly related to what your ulltimate goal. By insisting on the goal, Canadian antipschiatry activists kept antipsychiatry alive and active for decadeswith help from Americans like Lapon and Chabasinski in the US a, while it largely collapses in most of the world including most of the US. It collapsed for a a variety of reasons but one of which was a definition that did not define the ultimate goal, one which watered down the meaning. Antipsychiatry was kept alive by people very much keeping to the bottom line that you are recommending being open about. For myself personally, i didn’t do that in the late 80s –and I am not about to do that now. Now correct me if I am wrong, but I believe you had gone on to other issues for most of those decades and just returned in the last several years and so maybe you are not the familiar with these dynamics–but that does not make them an iota less critical. I invite you, Oldhead,to take that seriously and not to just assume that you missed nothing during that time and that people who are taking a different attitude than you are simply being “dogmatic”.

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  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

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    • 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!

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    • Steve, much thanks for your comments. Re Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault, we haven’t really voted for years. And while we could not accommodate a bunch of people skyping in, now and again, someone who is member wishes to Skype in to attend a meeting lets us know in advanceand one of our Toronto members accommodates. The long and the short is that if you if wanted to join and could make the time to skype into 2 meetings, there is no problem with you joining. Now as if happens, we take the summer off every year rom May or June onward (as in no meetings), and so we are off right now but we will be back to official meetings in September and will be having monthly meetings from then on until May or June of the following year. If you want to join, email me at my University of Toronto address and you will be added to the list; and even now, you could start getting our emails

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      • defines “antipsychiatry” as “an approach to mental disorders that makes use of concepts derived from existentialism, psychoanalysis, and sociological theory

        Yeah, Wikipedia talks a lot of nonsense too. Would anyone go to Wikipedia to explore their own history?

        Anti-psychiatry is a program for action, not a school of philosophy, and as such can only be defined by those who are engaged in it.

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          • As Szasz said, “define, or be defined.” Cooper and Laing really hijacked the term “anti-psychiatry,” so Szasz was right at the time to call it “Quackery Squared.” Bonnie, you have done an excellent job in this article to reclaim the term, and to rescue it from the dustbin of history. Well done. Now antipsychiatry can be what it was meant to be all along.

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          • Cooper and Laing did not hijack the term antipsychiatry. David Cooper coined the term ca. 1966, and introduced it to R. D. Laing and a few associates at a meeting in 1967. R. D. Laing held his tongue, but he saw himself as what might be called a “serious” psychiatrist, and he was furious at Cooper for the idea of an antipsychiatry movement. The term was first introduced in 1908 by a German psychiatrist, Barnard Beyer, in a pejorative sense, for anybody with the audacity to reject psychiatry and oppose psychiatric authority. It fell out of favor after WWI, but now it is back, in the pejorative sense, among bio-psychiatrists. Szasz aimed Quackery Squared not only at psychiatrists who called themselves antipsychiatry, but also at some who would now call themselves Critical Psychiatry. I don’t think you could say that anti-psychiatry was ever “hijacked”, but now that it is a term used by survivors of psychiatry, you could say that now it is where it always belonged.

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  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.”

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  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.

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    • 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.

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      • 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.

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      • 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.

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          • Post-psychiatry is an interesting phenomenon that is not post-psychiatry at all, being psychiatry, quite literally. At least, so long as psychiatry is being practiced.

            I would abolish force (non-consensual coercive psychiatry) as I see doing so as a viable aim. Abolishing psychiatry, in my view, is like abolishing astrology or soothsaying or religion. Not a viable aim. I would expose and delegitimize it, that is, take the power over peoples’ lives away from psychiatrists that they currently possess. If you think you can do more, all I have further to say further on the subject is, “Good luck with that.”

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          • If force was abolished, then psychiatry would rename Force. Didn’t they rename prisons as hospitals, and rename drugs as “meds”?

            When segregation was abolished in 1964, immediately Mississippi didn’t like it, so they found a loophole.

            You don’t want to pay taxes? Ah, loopholes, loopholes, till they become the norm…..

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          • To be clear, Frank, the attrition model of psychiatry abolition would of course prioritize getting rid of force; the ultimate goal, nonetheless would be psychiatry abolition more generally (and no, not by force). In this regard, you might (or might not) want to look at what I have written about the attrition model elsewhere (see for example,

            A question: If an attrition model of psychiatry abolition were adopted, could you live with this as opposed to restricting abolition to what you are calling “consensual psychiatry”?

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        • 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.

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        • 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……

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      • 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.

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        • Let me suggest that there is a difference between vision and strategy that needs to be made. Uprising is absolutely correct that eliminating force is a necessary but not a sufficient condition to eliminate psychiatry. At the same time, I think that eliminating the use of force would go a long long way toward eliminating psychiatry for force in intrinsic to psychiatry. And is even that the whole story? Not really. As Oldhead says, psychiatry is about force. However, it is also about the rise and dominance of medicine.

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          • This brings up a question that I have been wondering about for a long time: Is there any reason to believe that it would be easier to strip psychiatry of its overtly coercive powers than it would be to abolish it altogether as a medical specialty (and therefore also as an agent of social control)?

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          • Uprising is absolutely correct that eliminating force is a necessary but not a sufficient condition to eliminate psychiatry.

            In your opinion. Until it happens all this is speculation. And like I said, it depends on how one defines “force.” For now it is not an unreasonable argument that eliminating force could set the dominoes in motion, so to claim that someone who holds this position is not truly anti-psychiatry is counterproductive, and certainly not a way to unify people who basically want the same thing but have differences on how to get there; this stifles discussion and makes people hesitant about getting involved at all.

            In response to Uprising, who knows? It’s not a choice, the two are interrelated, and we need to approach this from all angles simultaneously; obviously at this point we aren’t anywhere close to either.

            For me it’s key to recognize that psychiatry is not a rogue branch of medicine but a parallel police system essentially responsible for “thought crimes.” We should not be focusing our efforts on getting those who profit from the system to “change” any more than we should be fighting the prison system by appealing to prison guards — not that either of these is impossible, but it’s a question of available energy and resources, and probabilities.

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          • Bonnie, My thinking is that we need to subdivide since one of the management problems in the Movement is that overall we’re too large in number.

            I’m thinking of this: There is a solid anti-drug contingency. Many of these folks have super convincing arguments or research capability that can be used by the anti-drug sector of the Movement. Some folks target certain pills they really hate. This could help bring down certain pharm companies, like suing the underwear off of them.

            There is an anti-shock component of the movement, many of us shock survivors. This segment is really solid and we saw much wonderful work in the 2016 write-in to the FDA and 2015 protests.

            We have people talking about stopping seclusion and restraints and that’s been going on for a while. Some are also targeting forced injections.

            We have seen great work in those that learned to accept hearing voices or learned to embrace them. This is truly revolutionary and I have seen rather convincing work done by these folks completely outside of psychiatry and nuthouses.

            There are areas wide open that don’t seem to be pursued as I’d like to see them. Incarceration, discreditation of patients is done in the legal and social sense, and wrecking careers by putting us out of work, sexual abuse within the System, or of severe boundary violations by irresponsible therapists. This is not as rare as people think and I have seen lawsuits over this in the news.

            Maybe if we have 100 people attacking these aspects, which as I see it all fall under something like FORCE or something that well describes the Nazi concentration camps.

            If I had my way i’d organize a contingency of folks attacking the “care” of eating disorders since nowadays it is done outside the realm of regular psych facilities. A lot of people aren’t even aware of these “specialized” and secluded facilities. The abuse is ten times worse in those places and there is big money at stake, many fatalities, too. Many people have quietly told me that going to ED “care” ruined their lives. i think if only we can organize.

            So bit by bit, we’d knock the whole thing down.

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          • No substantial victories, plus if they’re taken away they’re not victories. We still have a long way to go before we can claim such. Unless we define victory in very modest terms. And I don’t mean “moral” victories.

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        • 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.

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  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.

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  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.

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    • 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.

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        • 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!

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        • 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.

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    • 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.

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      • 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. 🙁

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      • 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.

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        • 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…..

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          • 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.

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          • 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.

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          • 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.

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  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.

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    • 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.

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      • 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.

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        • 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.

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  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?

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    • 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.

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    • Ron, there are a number of problems with what you are saying. the fact that people use the word “antipsychiatry” as a term of disparagement is epistemologically and ethically irrelevant. Positions should not be determined by how people by whether or not people attack you for them. As for the fact that some psychiatrist sdo good work–yes, that has been acknowledged by me in this article and in others. But the good work they do is not medical in nature and in spite of the fact, not because of the fact that they are psychiatric.

      As for what stops me from recognizing the weakness of the abolitionist positions–the simple fact that weaknesses that you refer to are weaknesses in the position of the theorists who reject the abolitionist position–not weaknesses in the abolitionist position itself. IN other words, what stops me is logic.

      Not, I realize what you were hoping to hear,

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      • Agreed, Bonnie. Within the profession and the larger MH profession we do see listening, caring, and community. They very well may be psychiatrists, but the positive effect on a patient is a result NOT of psychiatry, but of the simple yet rare phenomena called caring. Where to they learn that? Well before their college years. As do most of us.

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      • Bonnie, I think your argument rests on an assertion that it is impossible for a psychiatrist to do anything that is medical in nature that truly helps people with mental and emotional difficulties. If this were true, your position would be logical, but it clearly isn’t true.

        It is for example a form of medical help when a drug is prescribed that helps someone sleep when that person has been spiraling deeper into a “psychosis.” it’s a medical kind of help when people get assistance with getting gut bacteria back into balance, or when people find out about medical conditions that may be contributing to mental and emotional problems, or in the sort of work described in this article And that’s far from a complete list of possible medical sorts of real assistance.

        What I’m saying is that the abolitionist opinion is easily attacked is because it is logically flawed. It seems you can only defend it by making assertions that themselves are flawed (like that no one is ever helped with a mental or emotional problem via an intervention that could be legitimately described as medical.)

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        • It is for example a form of medical help when a drug is prescribed that helps someone sleep when that person has been spiraling deeper into a “psychosis.”

          If that’s medical help, then I can become a doctor by giving someone an alcoholic beverage.

          it’s a medical kind of help when people get assistance with getting gut bacteria back into balance, or when people find out about medical conditions that may be contributing to mental and emotional problems, or in the sort of work described in this article

          This one is really a stretch. Since when is psychiatry interested in gut health or legitimate medical conditions???

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          • Hi uprising, I encourage you to notice that I’m not saying that helpful medical approaches by psychiatrists are common, just that they are possible, and happen sometimes. There are some psychiatrists who are very interested in what’s coming out about gut bacteria and our emotional functioning for example. I know that bad or even despicable practices are much more common, I’m just saying, let’s focus on opposing what’s bad and avoid saying that every medical thing psychiatrists do is bad, when that isn’t true.
            Oh and by the way, alcohol is actually a pretty poor thing to prescribe for sleep. It does help people get to sleep briefly, but then makes sleep worse.

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          • My point was that giving someone a tranquilizing substance so that they can sleep is ‘medical’ only because physicians have the monopoly on prescription pads. There is no science behind it other than the knowledge that tranquilizers can tranquilize people. So pointing out cases in which people were able to sleep because of tranquilizer prescriptions does not in any way constitute an argument for psychiatry’s legitimacy as a medical specialty.

            Oh and by the way, alcohol is actually a pretty poor thing to prescribe for sleep. It does help people get to sleep briefly, but then makes sleep worse.

            That’s true. The same can be said for benzodiazepines, which are commonly prescribed by psychiatrists for sleep.

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          • It seems that anything you, Ron, are suggesting could be prescribed by a GP or family practitioner. There is nothing medical that is really helpful that is specific to psychiatry, except perhaps for the few who know how to wean people off of their wonderful psychiatric drugs. There are real physiological things that could cause “psychiatric symptoms,” but again, these could be provided by the appropriate medical specialist. There is really nothing “medical” that psychiatry brings to the table that isn’t based on their subjective and deceptive DSM diagnostic scheme. And we know exactly how scientific that scheme really is. So I guess I’d ask what psychiatry as a medical specialty can bring to the table that can’t be addressed by another doctor?

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          • Ron, we already have a specialty dedicated to the gastrointestinal system. Seems GI docs are in a better position to treat gut bacteria imbalances than behavioral doctors who a trained how to prescribe drugs to correct neurotransmitter imbalances.

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          • When the practitioners aren’t psychiatrists by training or outlook. The only psychiatrist I ever talked to, who wasn’t a jerk, was an internist by training, who had become aware of Theron Randolph’s work with fasting therapy (Randolph was an allergist) and provocative food trials and regulated diets for alleged “mental” patients. He’d trained with Randolph, which involved his own fasting and provocative food testing, and was also familiar with orthomolecular medicine (he told me how to titer my B3 to the proper level).

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        • Yes, I would agree with Steve here. Medical substances can sometimes be of assistance to people in emotional distress, and so one would not want to rule out medical people as among those who could be helpful. For this, however, Ron, for we do not need the bogus medical specialty called psychiatry. To credit psychiatry as acceptable because they sometimes provide the help that any good doctor would or should is to totally miss the point.

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          • Bonnie, I want to notice that you are no longer claiming that any possible good work done by someone calling themselves a psychiatrist “is not medical in nature” – I’m glad you are abandoning that flawed argument which you offered earlier.

            But it seems you are now falling back onto another flawed argument, which is the idea that while medical methods may sometimes be helpful, we should nevertheless abolish any attempts by anyone to specialize in offering medical help for mental and emotional concerns, and seek to make sure that any such help will only be offered by medical doctors who have no special expertise in this area!

            I do understand the sentiment behind the above argument. If a specialty is corrupt, and mainstream practitioners within that profession have beliefs and practices that routinely cause great harm, then one is likely to do better going for help to someone who is not a specialist.

            But really what is needed in the big picture is simply the elimination of the corruption, not the elimination of the specialty.

            It should be noted that people routinely get lots of terrible “help” from general practitioners as well as from psychiatrists. A non-corrupt psychiatry, like any good specialty, would seek to sort out what is truly helpful from what is not, and would guide general practitioners in becoming more effective in helping, and in stopping doing the harmful practices. It would also be seeking to understand more complex questions and possible interventions that may be beyond the grasp of general practitioners, as in the work being done by the doctors in the mental health excellence article I linked to above, where they were finding and treating metabolic problems that contributed to very serious depression. I know, this sort of thing is currently rare, because psychiatry by and large is currently very corrupt. But it is possible, and the possibility of any specialized medical help for people with mental and emotional problems means that any call to completely abolish such specialized help will inevitably come across as fanatical and illogical, and as an overreach. It’s a much stronger position to simply be against “bad psychiatric practice” which can be understood to include most all of what mainstream psychiatrists do (including believe in the DSM.)

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          • Last time i mentioned gut bacteria to a psychiatrist she tried to use that as “proof” that I was delusional. Good luck finding a psych that actually knows a few things. Except the antipsych psychs that are in fact abolitionists. isn’t the most famous Breggin quote something about seeing a psych being the riskiest thing you can do?

            I think one of the issues that some of the practicing therapists on here have is that they feel slighted by us abolitionists and are having a career identity crisis. Well? Listen.. complete turnaround isn’t cozy! It hurts and you grieve like crazy. Go ahead and take the plunge. Ditch those bogus therapy careers and get a real job! Please do not go on psych disability if you’re frustrated with being jobless. What a damn cop-out that was (on my part, too).

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        • “It is for example a form of medical help when a drug is prescribed that helps someone sleep when that person has been spiraling deeper into a “psychosis.” it’s a medical kind of help when people get assistance with getting gut bacteria back into balance, or when people find out about medical conditions that may be contributing to mental and emotional problems, or in the sort of work described in this article And that’s far from a complete list of possible medical sorts of real assistance.”

          None of your examples require a psychiatrist. However, I’ll counter that psychiatrists giving me Ambien for 8 years while I was suffering from sleep apnea, in the name of helping me sleep, did more harm than good. It took a great deal of effort to get my sleep apnea diagnosed and treated and the recommendation to the sleep disorders clinic that finally treated me came from my psychologist, not my psychiatrist. And then only because he had sleep apnea as well and had gone through his own journey to get it properly treated. Psychiatrists do not exist to heal your gut or give therapy or treat physical or neurological problems. They are trained to match symptoms with disorders in the DSM and then prescribe the “appropriate” psychiatric drugs. Most psychiatrists that I have dealt with refuse to speak or hear about anything else other than psychiatric symptoms so they can determine how to prescribe.

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        • The ONLY helpful psychiatrists are ones that tell you psych diagnosis is bogus and actually help people LEAVE the system, get off the pill cycle, stop that ridiculous dependency on therapists, and all of the quackery far far behind. It couldn’t possibly mean getting hooked on yet one more “healer,” thereby transferring addictions. Yikes! Ideally, such shrinks should exist, but in practice I don’t see that type of medicine much, actually, since it means as a doctor, your job is to fire yourself.

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          • Hi Julie, I think you are right that for most people, the only “help” they might actually need from a psychiatrist is help getting away from or free from any kind of psychiatric intervention!

            But there are other kinds of stories. People can get into terrible mental states, or even end up dead due to mental and emotional distress, without ever encountering the mental health system, so we can’t blame that system for all the terrible problems people experience. And sometimes people actually get pretty well informed non-medical help with mental and emotional problems, and are still stuck in some terrible states. And sometimes people who are stuck in those ways actually do find some help in psychiatric interventions.

            This may be rare, but if it happens even once or twice, that implies that abolishing all of psychiatry would be a mistake, as it would make that kind of help impossible. So it makes more sense to simply call for abolishing all of the corrupt or misguided parts of psychiatry – that can be done without denying anything to people whose story is different from many MIA contributors, and who actually might benefit from something that could be called “psychiatric.”

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          • Ron, your logic is off here. I concede that Nazi Germany had redeeming qualities. After all, many followers gained self-confidence from joining the Nazi military. So that means it did SOME good for SOME people so of course we can’t abolish it, nor ever speak badly about the senseless killing of 11,000,000 people. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water…….As my shrink used to say over and over. Their favorite line.

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          • Julie, great reply! Personally, my old shrink used to say she didn’t see a big problem with limited use of infanticide. Dump the baby, dump the bath water.

            *I don’t advocate infanticide – She may have been more disturbed than I ever was.

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          • Kindred we need to make a website of the absolute most absurd things a shrink ever said. Occasional infanticide? Not her baby….

            Mine said to me, “Human rights are trivial.”

            Don’t say shit like that to a writer or you’ll be in her next book.

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          • Right, Frank. Infanticide is sadly a thing that happens and will continue, just as other types of murder aren’t going to end suddenly. But I was just a little shocked that she said such a thing so cavalierly without any context. I didn’t ask under what circumstances she advocated for such. Perhaps she simply meant if the infant had some horrible defect that would make for a short painful life that there should be some sort of compassionate physician assisted euthanasia. But even that would be awfully controversial (judging by the abortion debate alone). And I can’t imagine how a mental health provider would interpret such words from a mental patient – without an awful lot of context, it’s just saying murder under a certain age is acceptable.

            I know she worked with poverty stricken women in tribal communities in South America when she was young and so that kind of situation could enter into her reasoning. But I never asked. Advocating for adults to be allowed death with dignity, or for women to control their own bodies is controversial enough for me.

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    • 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.

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      • 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.”

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        • “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.

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          • 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.

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    • 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.

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    • 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.

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    • 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.

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      • 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.

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        • 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.

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        • Ron, given the entire profession is based on myths and misrepresentations, we are clearly talking a about a profession here–not bad apples. No doubt in every case of atrocity, there are officials involved who to act more humanely and who deeply regret what their colleagues do –which is great–but that does not change the verdict that we need to make about the profession. Herein lies the difference between a systemic argument and individualization and liberalism.

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          • Bonnie, I want to notice that in your last comment before this one, you agreed that some medical assistance could be of use for some people who had mental and emotional difficulties, but then stated this could always be done just as well by a general practitioner. I refuted that notion, and explained why it would make no sense to ban doctors from specializing in this area.

            Now, instead of attempting to refute my point, or alternatively acknowledging that I was correct, you are just redirecting attention to another flawed argument, which is the notion that all of psychiatry rests on myths and misrepresentations.

            Clearly, “mainstream” psychiatry does rely on such myths and misrepresentations. But you aren’t just calling for abolishing the sort of psychiatry that relies on such myths and misrepresentations: you are calling for abolishing all of any possible psychiatry, all of any branch of medicine specializing in helping people with mental and emotional problems. For this argument to make sense, you have to give us a reason for society to stop any group of medical doctors from specializing in helping with mental and emotional problems even in a well informed and humble and humane way: and you have clearly failed to provide reasons to to that.

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  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.

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    • 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.)

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  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.

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      • 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…

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        • 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.

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          • 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…

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          • 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!

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          • 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.

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        • Not sure why this is addressed to me, but I do support her lawsuit, probably (haven’t actually examined it). That doesn’t mean we’re obliged to support all the pro-psychiatry confusion or naivete expressed on the website.

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          • 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…

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          • 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.)

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          • 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.

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          • 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…

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          • 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.

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          • 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…

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          • 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.

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          • 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…

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          • 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.

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          • 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.

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          • 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.

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          • 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….

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      • 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.

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  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.

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    • 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! 😛

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    • 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.

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      • 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.

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        • Julie, this is the reason I think repeal of the ACA might not be a bad thing. Without insurance, far fewer have access to the poisons. And it’s why I fear universal healthcare. Doesn’t Medicaid pay for something like 75% of psych drugs?

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          • 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.

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          • 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.

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          • 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.

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          • 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.

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          • 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.

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          • 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.

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        • 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.

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          • 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.

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            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?]


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          • “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.

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      • 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.

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  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.

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  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!” 🙂

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    • Oldhead, I agree with you that the fact that we have all these people arguing about the meaning of antipsychiatry is a sign of progress. I would add that in part, this is what 14 years of activism in this area has finally resulted in, as opposed to your describing the product of those years as constituting “zero progress”. That said, we are not simply arguing about words. We are arguing basic principles–bottom lines And while semantics is surely involved here, it is not just a matter of semantics. Also it is hardly just bullshit. It makes a huge difference whether people declare themselves opposed to coercive psychiatry only or whether they declare themselves opposed to psychiatry period. Moreover, people surely have a right to have their own bottom lines and to organize and group together on the basis of these. And clearly psychiatry abolition is a bottom line for a huge number of us.

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      • Hi there, people, I noticed the word “14 years of activism in the area” has crept in. Possibly, a typo that kept being repeated and perhaps even initially of my doing. To stop any confusion, the antipsychiatry work done by abolitionist (activists and survivors) has been going strong at least in Canada since 1979, with a huge boost coming in the early 80s. I myself joined the movement in 1979 but only became extremely active in 1981–then never looked back.

        One other thing, since posting this article, a number of people have emailed me indicating that they want to join CAPA. As long as you appreciate that CAPA is an abolitionist group, of course, we are happy to accommodate. Unfortunately the CAPA email is on the blink right now, but I can easily add you to the CAPA email list if you email me asking, which two of you have done in the last few days. You will find my email address listed on the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education website.

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      • The increase in numbers who are turning against psychiatry is evidence that we’re getting somewhere. Plus look at all those out there who are “coming out,” or “questioning.” In ten years’ time, those folks will be staunch anti-psych or even becoming leaders in the Movement. Then, I suspect the walls will come down. Maybe it’s selfish of me to hope it all happens when I ‘m still alive.

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        • Not foolish at all, Julie. While changes that we fight for often dont materialize in our lifetime, of course we all want them to. Now personally, as someone who is remarkably, unwell, I was expecting to go to my grave with seeing a resurgence in antipsychiatry. Nonetheless, like many others I plowed on, year after year, like earthworm, preparing the ground for change. Then lo and behold, we saw ourselves in the midst of a resurgence–and so you never know!

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          • Bonnie my original thing was that I noticed inhumane treatment in eating disorders. Immediately, just for pointing it out, kids (mostly) in ED treatment spoke out against me claiming I was “Pro Ana” or “Against Recovery.”

            There was really no point in arguing. I tried, though. I tried to say, “No, I’m not against getting better nor against “treatment,” only against inhumane treatment.”

            I have since noticed that in younger, less experienced patients, they tend to “split” over treatment. A good doctor, a bad one, a good hospital, a bad one. And that’s kinda a natural response here, you have a terrible experience and you end up RATIONALIZING it away by telling yourself, “They were the exception.” Because you don’t want to believe otherwise. You’re hoping it was only a bad apple and you keep coming back for more.

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      • Moreover, people surely have a right to have their own bottom lines and to organize and group together on the basis of these. And clearly psychiatry abolition is a bottom line for a huge number of us.

        Bonnie, I believe you well know that I personally have no problem with the term “abolition” and use it interchangeably with others. Lest any newcomers to this discussion infer otherwise, my currently preferred set of proposed principles defining anti-psychiatry ends with the statement “Psychiatry cannot be reformed, it must be abolished.”

        But this is not about my personal opinion. My comments here revolve around, not the semantics of the term “abolish,” but the pressuring, both here and elsewhere, of people such as Frank (the most vocal but there are others) who are clearly anti-psychiatry and identify as such — and, more importantly, have demonstrated that their commitment goes beyond words — but are being hounded and chastised for not accepting one term vs. another similar one. And in this case, since “abolish” has not been clearly defined in a consistent way, pressuring people to use it is inexplicable and diverts us from more strategic considerations.

        I will restate that anti-psychiatry means simply “against psychiatry.” There is no dictionary definition; it is being defined by ourselves in the course of advancing the process. If one who opposes psychiatry does not believe that psychiatry should be “improved,” or that we need “alternatives,” I would challenge anyone to show why that person should not be considered “anti-psychiatry.”

        HOW to work against psychiatry is the question for now and the future. Numerous formations of anti-psychiatry activists are crystallizing as we speak, some survivor-led, some existing and “coalition” based, etc.; in order to work together in harmony without backbiting and authoritarianism, there needs to be freedom to question anything and express dissenting opinions, even if it sometimes seems a waste of time. This is what democracy looks like.

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        • My personal feeling is that setting the bottom line at psychiatry abolition is setting the bottom line too high. You limit the numbers of recruits you might have, and alienate potential recruits that way. It also increases the difficulty of arguing for abolition of coercive psychiatry. It makes antipsychiatry, as Ron pointed out, too easy to dismiss.

          Also, I’ve noticed that some people say abolish psychiatry while meaning something else: delegitimize it, end it as a branch of medicine, what have you. Were there no psychiatry, antipsychiatry would lose its reason for existence. I’d call that very much easier to say than to do. Despite antil-fascism, now you’ve got skin heads and neo-NAZIs. I’m not prepared to say that psychiatry can be abolished.

          There may be no non-coercive psychiatry, but that doesn’t negate the necessity for outlawing coercive psychiatry. If psychiatry is, as has been suggested, a priesthood, you’re fighting freedom of religion, and that can be a difficult battle to win. I simply don’t think being against psychiatry means calling for the abolition of psychiatry, especially if doing so is completely out of the question any time soon, and we might as well be dealing with goals that are possible instead.

          I can’t do battle with forced treatment if I am also expected to be doing battle with unforced treatment at the same time. Any argument I make is going to be diluted by my insistence on no treatment for anybody, even those people who would demand it for themselves; those who keep the treatment business booming. I see forced treatment as the problem. If there isn’t any non-coercive treatment, all the more reason for calling for the abolition of coercive treatment. What’s more, if there is no non-coercive treatment in reality, non-coercion isn’t the problem.

          How anybody is going to force an end to non-coercive psychiatry beats me as well. We are supposed to keep non-coercive psychiatry from taking place, are we? I have a problem with the idea that we are going to coerce non-coercion on anybody. Saying so doesn’t make me a psychiatry salesman, advocate, promoter, or supporter, or even a Critical Psychiatry supporter. The question remains, how are you going to endeavor to abolish psychiatry without looking as bad as psychiatry because you had to resort to coercion to do so.

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          • You limit the numbers of recruits you might have, and alienate potential recruits that way. It also increases the difficulty of arguing for abolition of coercive psychiatry. It makes antipsychiatry, as Ron pointed out, too easy to dismiss.

            This is defeatist logic whether you or Ron use it. If something is correct you don’t water it down to please people. Isn’t that what happened with “Mindfreedom”? We need more than names on a list. We need activists.

            If there isn’t any non-coercive treatment, all the more reason for calling for the abolition of coercive treatment.

            If it is determined that there isn’t any non-coercive treatment it would eliminate any reason NOT to use the term abolition.

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          • Okay, no need to talk about coercing non-coercion, that’s patent absurd if I would do so through law anyway, if possible. What I question is whether it is possible to abolish psychiatry. It’s feasibility, as far as I’m concerned, is only related to force. Anybody who wanted to could avoid psychiatry if it wasn’t a matter of force. Where you are going, nobody could receive psychiatry even if they wanted it. I’m not going to ask how I can keep someone from doing what that person wants to do, if that something is not injuring another. I don’t think I should be preventing them from pursuing their own freely chosen aims.

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          • OldHead, we live in a world with other people, and sometimes we have to make concessions to realism.

            Activists needed, yes, I think so.

            If it is determined that there isn’t any non-coercive treatment it would eliminate any reason NOT to use the term abolition.

            Of what? Psychiatry, or non-coercive treatment? If there is no non-coercive treatment, that doesn’t mean there couldn’t be non-coercive treatment.

            I’m seeing this business as very wordy and rhetorical rather than exacting. The party-line…I don’t know. I don’t like psychiatry any more than the next person. Well, actually I probably dislike it more than the next person. Abolish psychiatry? Sigh. I wish.

            I’m all for abolishing coercive psychiatry, or psychiatric slavery. Beyond that, I can’t find anything more than wordplay in demanding the abolition of psychiatry itself. It reminds me of this belief in “mental illness” that so many “mental health movement” advocates possess, and conventional psychiatry demands.

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          • I love this discussion! I appreciate what you are saying, Frank that we must be realistic here. If we are going to dismantle something we know is wrong, but we’re up against what looks like an impossible goal, maybe it needs to be done incrementally.

            I also think strengthening communities and family will mean going to a psychiatrist is unnecessary. I think we need to make bit-by-bit changes in our communities, end labeling, be more open to discussion of what are now taboo topics, tell our stories any way we can, and encourage community activism based on embracing all humans.

            Many are already skeptical of the DSM. This runs across the board economically and across many disciplines. People working in in other fields. such as IT, the arts, other sciences, and legal fields to name a few are well aware of the harms caused by diagnosis (diagnonsense) alone.


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          • I appreciate what you are saying, Frank that we must be realistic here. If we are going to dismantle something we know is wrong, but we’re up against what looks like an impossible goal, maybe it needs to be done incrementally.

            You can be realistic and have a pragmatic approach while also having abolition as the goal.

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          • “You can be realistic and have a pragmatic approach while also having abolition as the goal.”


            And I think Bonnie was pretty clear in saying that people could still have access to medications they feel are helping them while not having such provided by psychiatrists. There is no reason for a psychiatrist to send you for a sleep study to test for sleep disorders when prescribing Seroquel will keep you coming back to his office to treat the behavior/symptom. Whereas a GP wants to treat underlying illness, psychiatry focuses on behavior and creates perpetual consumers of drugs. Psychiatry as it stands now exists solely to match behaviors to diagnoses to drugs. It is the laziest branch of “medicine” ever concocted. It’s practitioners guilty of fraud.

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          • I also think strengthening communities and family will mean going to a psychiatrist is unnecessary.

            It already is unnecessary, in fact it’s destructive. Don’t feed the myth that we need “alternatives to psychiatry.” Human support is not an “alternative to psychiatry,” as psychiatry doesn’t provide anything remotely similar.

            Not that I don’t get what you’re saying, it’s the semantics again.

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        • Yes, Oldhead, that is indeed what democracy is all about. At the same time part of democracy is that people be allowed to say that they think an argument is going in circles without being accused of being mean, anti-democratic or authoritarian.

          It also has to be perfectly acceptable that while making concessions on all sort of matters, some of us have bottom lines. Clearly mine –and I have always been crystal clear about this–is abolition.

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          • But this is just completing another lap in the circle, as part of the issue is ambiguity of terms and what they mean in practice. Anyway, just saying that trying to achieve closure by cutting off debate may be justifiable in an emergency situation but this is hardly that.

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          • If the FDA can be convinced to make psych drugs, or most of them, unavailable because of the dangers and multiple lawsuits, the drugs will be sold as street drugs. Buying street drugs is far safer than going to a psychiatrist, anyway.

            I notice most “therapists” can’t seem to commit to abolition since clearly they still want to control people and run their lives. Dear Therapists, get off your high horses and just give up the fight. You DON”T know better!

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        • The issue is not you personally, Oldhead but the compromised definition of antipsychiatry that a few people have and your insistence that they are still antipsychiatry. During the long period when you stopped being involved, antipsychiatry was kept alive precisely by those of us (most in Canada, a few in the US like Chabasinski) insisting on a total abolitionist definition. Most everyone else watered things done, in part in order not to alienate people, in part out of liberal inclinations And before you know it, antipsychiatry was on a serious decline pretty well everywhere except Canada. Those of us who took abolition as a bottom line kept antipsychiatry alive and active over those decades precisely by insisting on the bottom line of abolitionism and never allowing the concept to get watered down. Now of course, people are free to define things as they wish. I am likewise free to only be part of grouping which hold fast to abolitionism and to encourage that understanding of antipsychiatry.

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          • There are those out there that only want “better care.” They don’t realize that the entire “help” concept is wrong. I used to think the exact same thing. All I needed was a “better doctor.”

            I didn’t realize that doctor-dependency keeps many people sick and perpetuates the cult of neediness, the “help” mentality!

            All I can say is that I would wish for anyone Freedom from Doctors. It’s better than anything having my life back from slavery.

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          • I am likewise free to only be part of grouping which hold fast to abolitionism and to encourage that understanding of antipsychiatry.

            Even when this excludes people who say the same things in their own words?

            The goal of social work is supposedly to make social work unnecessary, yet it has become a permanent part of western capitalist society. I would hate to have that happen to anti-psychiatry, i.e. become institutionalized to the degree where it depends on the continued existence of psychiatry. And I still don’t get the difference between “ending” and “abolishing” psychiatry, or using any number of other synonyms.

            Btw you are of course to be highly commended for “keeping watch” while the U.S. movement disintegrated and became hopelessly coopted. On a personal note, I never “left the movement” as to me it’s all one movement, I just moved from the anti-psych department to fighting racism and imperialism on other fronts. (After about a 5 year period of partying and hanging out with hippies, anarchists and squatters.)

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        • Organizing and working with others on the basis of the one understanding of antipsychiatry that kept antipsychiatry alive and well and not diluted, that is my democratic right, also my responsibility. If you Oldhead, choose to operate otherwise, that is your choice.

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      • Oldhead, Bonnie, and All

        Bonnie said: “… we are not simply arguing about words. We are arguing basic principles–bottom lines And while semantics is surely involved here, it is not just a matter of semantics. Also it is hardly just bullshit. It makes a huge difference whether people declare themselves opposed to coercive psychiatry only or whether they declare themselves opposed to psychiatry period.”

        I completely agree with this statement.

        It is very instructive to not only see how some people have responded to the proposed goal of “abolishing Psychiatry,” but ESPECIALLY the particular arguments they have used for opposing this radical and historically just position.

        On the one hand you have the very clear “reformist” approach coming from Ron, who is constantly cautioning everyone about being “too extreme” with our language and political positions. If his political line was followed during the 1960’s there would have been NO vanguard organizations AND the entire movement would NOT have gone nearly as far as it did. He would have been critical of Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, SDS, and the Yippies and all the other more radical groups who pushed that movement as far as it was able to advance in the face of great resistance on the part of the System. And while all of these groups made mistakes, their main mistakes were NOT that they were TOO FAR OUT THERE WITH THEIR POLITICAL VIEWS.

        And while i believe that Frank is politically more advanced on many of these issues than Ron, (and I side with him on most issues here) unfortunately he is repeating some of the same sort of arguments against “being too extreme” and “not alienating people” by using the terms (and principle) of a”abolishing Psychiatry.”

        Permeating many of Frank’s comments is a stance (perhaps unconscious) against the role of vanguard organizations and not grasping the importance of some people taking a more advanced position in the development of a movement for change.

        And there also seems to be a theme in his comments and a belief that a world without psychiatry is not really possible (or it is somehow utopian), so maybe we should lower our sights and settle for something less. It is this kind of belief system that often leads people to fall into incrementalism and various forms of reformism.

        I hope Frank is open to taking a deeper look at this trend in his writings, and I do understand very clearly (and more so now) why Bonnie will not compromise on the “bottom line” of “abolition,” nor will I.


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        • Don’t know why this is addressed to me, and don’t know why it takes Frank to help you form your line. You seem to be ignoring the various points I’ve been making in favor of assuming I’m making an argument for or against “abolition.” No one has yet explained the difference between “abolish,” eliminate” or “end.” This is getting way too academic and repetitive.

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          • Oldhead,my guess is that Richard is addressing this to you because of your dismissal of how essential it is that antipsychiatry be defined in term of abolition of psychiatry–and not just abolition of forced psychiatry. Nor is this just a matter of words

            Re the difference between abolish, end, eliminate, while you keep bringing this up as if frank agreed to the committment to “ending” as part of the definition of antipsychiatry, but the point is that he hasn’t, leastwise not in anything which i have read. Hence, this is far more that a semantic issue.

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          • Oldhead

            I addressed you because of the following comment you made further down this comment section:

            “P.S. I don’t think that “intolerance” of “abolitionist” language is the problem, it’s the insistence that one can only be anti-psychiatry if they DO use it. It seems more like a loyalty oath or something at this point.”

            In this case language matters very much. Again, read all the so-called political justifications for NOT using “abolish.” It is very revealing of a “reformist” and/or “defeatist” approach, either consciously or unconsciously.


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          • Except that 90% of “treatment” is coercion.

            Coercion by the ads which drove you to the doctor – “I’m sad, I’m out of sorts, my life sucks” Try Dammitol!

            Coercion by the schools, Johnny isn’t performing very well, let’s get him some speed to stunt his growth and create a bipolar patient.

            Coercion by ignorance as the psychiatrists hold all the cards, and “know best” in the realms of “agnosia” caused by these coerced “illnesses.”

            Show me non-coercive psychiatry. I don’t think it exists.

            By “coercive” or “forced” treatment do you mean only by violence?

            What about the pressure of the poor, doctor knows best for them, too. Or the pressure to perform in a mindless corporate soul sucking job? Is that forced treatment to get help so you can still be a good worker? Is it forced treatment to take drugs to stay in a toxic marriage because you need to “save face” among the deacons?

            Oh, look – your cholesterol numbers are high. Reckon you need a statin!

            I’m even in the realm with Julie where most medicine is coercive. I hit the books before visiting a doctor, lest I be bullied into procedures, drugs, and even surgeries, without knowing what I’m in for. I have to fight with all of my doctors – even the “good” ones – for the good treatment for my health that I deserve.

            I choose to fight my doctors because I was so ruined by the drugs and surgeries that I still need care. Without pharmaceuticals (thyroid) I will die. I have to interact with them, and fight their control (coercion) at every step.

            I am a salmon swimming upstream, and you are telling me that treatment is voluntary?

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          • 1. 90 % isn’t 100 %. If 90 % of treatment is coercive, that means 10 % is non-coercive.
            2. Where is the source of this statistic?

            Coercive treatment is the law (i.e. a product of legislation and legally sanctioned), however, all treatment is not coercive treatment.

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          • 1. The statistic was quite conservative. There might – MAYBE be 10% of people who are drawn in to psychiatry by honest means, and are kept there without pressure or coercion. But once they take those drugs, that is questionable. The reality is probably more like 99%

            2. The source of this is my personal experience, combined with the experiences in my peer support for withdrawing from psych drugs, and reading myriads of case studies over the past 5 years.

            I include marketing in coercion. I include pressure, “You’re not cool if you don’t,” or – more likely “You’ll go crazy if you don’t.” This is coercion too.

            So – perhaps the thing you are against is violent coercion? The worst of the worst – the restraints & needles & confinement & humiliation of forced incarceration. Does that also include Treatment Orders “for the safety of the community?” Is the court a violence?

            Where does the violence end and the coercion begin?

            I reckon all psychiatry is coercive. I spotted you 10% for the benefit of the discussion.

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        • Psychiatry is just a word, Richard, and I don’t see censoring it accomplishing a lot. (It could even change the name of the practice in the name of eluding abolition). Psychiatry uses medical pretenses for social control. I see the social control as being a bigger issue than that of the medical pretenses.

          Psychologists are now demanding, and in some places in the USA, getting, prescribing privileges. If psychiatry were abolished tomorrow, as stated, I don’t think these psychologists would give a frig so long as it wasn’t psychology that was abolished.

          I am for dismantling the mental health system which I imagine could be interpreted as saying essentially the same thing as “abolish psychiatry”.

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          • Thank you, uprising! That’s exactly what I was thinking. Without the medical pretenses, they wouldn’t be able to enact the social control. It’s predicated on the idea of providing ‘care’ for someone who is ‘ill’.

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          • I tend to think this “illness” they came up with is predicated on the idea of controlling people who are seen as ‘out of control’, for instance, people who credit melancholia (“depression”) with being responsible for their lack of industry or employment. Good workers, good cannon fodder, good students….It’s all about keeping the well oiled machine going, and preventing dysfunction of the unthinking social apparatus. There is less question, when it comes to ‘out of control’, for one experiencing “mania”, or a so-called “psychotic break”. Uppity women, rebellious blacks, outcasts, and mountebanks, anybody who upsets the smooth functioning of the machine, with its conformity and its status quo, is a potential target of this social control system.

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          • Frank, that’s a fair point, so I’ll clarify by saying that the current rendition of (psychiatric) social control is predicated on “illness”. It is not the only form of social control. Morality (religion), intelligence, race, socioeconomic status, among others are also form of social control. Abolishing psychiatry will not end the attempts by those in power to maintain power and social control. But thats a flimsy argument (your many headed snake theory) for not abolishing psychiatry, respectfully.

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          • Like I said, I’m for completely dismantling the mental health system. I’m for abolishing coercive psychiatry. If dismantling the mental health system includes disempowering psychiatry, as it does, maybe we could be said to be in agreement over this issue.

            People have accused me of making much over semantics (i.e. definitions). They are correct. Okay, here I am not doing so. In general, I concur.

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  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 ?

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    • Julie, I just recently came upon that set of ideas on Health Freedom and see how much it pertains to what so many of us believe . I think it would be great if MIA had you blogging here if you felt like it . I always enjoy reading your comments , it would really be something if a transcript or video of your presentation could appear here at MIA as well .Thank You .

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  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.

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        • Yes but didn’t Szasz turn away from Scientology? I am well familiar with the CCHR and I know they’re a Sci front, but I know they do some good work, great films, too. I’m reading a book on Hitler and it seems the book is backed by Sci. Still I’m sure it’s all true. The book is darned scary, since it COULD happen again!

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          • Julie, what Szasz set in motion here caused problem from people who are antipsychiatry ever since. That said, one of our most eminent Toronto ECT survivors made it very that if her choice was between Scientology and psychiatry, she would take her chances “with the shrinks”. Not a decision she came to lightly.

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        • the accusations of being a Scientologist just have to be met with denial and a statement that we aren’t aligned with them. Yes, doesn’t look great on a resume, but a lot of groups hate psych and aren’t aligned with our goals.

          As I see it, psych is a cult, as is sci. So there are groups out there that use coercion, isolation, etc, and what I see is that people run from one cult right into the hands of another.

          Just lilke people go from one doctor to another, thinking they need a new doc. No, you need NO DOC. That’s how to not be sick.

          Run to freedom!

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        • Bonnie

          I agree, his willingness to pragmatically align himself with Scientology was a big mistake on his part and it did hurt the Movement. And it still comes up today in many ways.

          And I will add this about Szasz, while he made enormous contributions deconstructing Psychiatry and the Medical Model, his love affair with “free” market capitalism and Libertarianism blinded him to the historical significance of the uprisings around the the world during the 1960’s.

          This ideological and political “blind spot” kept him from linking the oppressive nature of Psychiatry and the growing struggle against it, with the powerful movements against the Vietnam War and the growing Black Liberation/Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Movement. And I doubt he would have been willing to criticize the role of Psychiatry as a form of social control helping to perpetuate and sustain multiple forms of class oppression throughout society.

          It also makes you wonder how far he would have been willing to go in criticizing the profit hungry pharmaceutical industry and the criminal nature of their fraudulent marketing of psychiatric drugs.


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          • I think he would have been outraged. Actually he just died recently so there are probably some writings about this on his site.

            It doesn’t matter though, Szasz’s contribution wasn’t his politics, but his spot-on deconstruction of psychiatric bullshit.

            Also, on a “yes, but…” note, it remains undeniable that some of the best anti-psychiatry documentaries have been done by CCHR/Scientology (without promoting their own “brand”).

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          • Szasz, who never gave a patient psych-drugs or ECT in his life, rationalized the selling of such practices in the name of free market capitalism, that is, if a person could be convinced that brain damaging treatment was medicinal (i.e. bought into this kind of hucksterism), he couldn’t condemn doctors for selling it as such, he was just going to be honest about the matter. He was against forcing any such treatments on people against their will and wishes. (Go, Szasz!) This attitude creates something of a moral dilemma for me. Yes, doctors provide patients with harmful treatments because they demand them, and because they pay good money for them. Would they be doing so if their patient victims were told the truth? Big question mark. Should doctors be selling these harmful treatments? Not in my book. Not in Szasz book either I suppose, he didn’t engage in such himself, but he wasn’t calling for outlawing the practice. I, on the other hand, would think there was something seriously wrong with peddling brain damage and physical injury as a method of “healing” that should be, if not outlawed outright, at least suppressed.

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          • Szasz’s strength–and he was a giant here–was deconstructing the concept of mental illness and attacking the idiotic use of languaage. IN this he was a leader unparalleled. also of course he did not practice psychiatry and taught his deconstruction to others. did he understand other oppresssions and their relationship to psychatry? A bit here and there but in no consistent way, and some of his pronouncements were horrifying. For example, there was a video he made many decades where he quite rightly objected to homeless people being thrown in the psychiatric system–then to my amazement he added, that they shoul be thrown in the prison system instead for they are violating vagrancy laws. So while brilliant and an enormously important leader this area, perhaps even the most important, Szasz was as it were a mixed bag, both exceptionally enlightened and unenlightened at the same time.

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          • Frank

            You said: “… doctors provide patients with harmful treatments because they demand them, and because they pay good money for them. Would they be doing so if their patient victims were told the truth? Big question mark. Should doctors be selling these harmful treatments?”

            None of this could really exist if there wasn’t a Psychiatric/Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex that spends billions of dollars of PR marketing campaigns every year brainwashing the masses into believing they need drugs and psychiatric “treatment.”

            This has everything to do with the type of economic and political system we live under. This is NOT “free”choice going on here and never will be as long as this System exists.


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          • Oldhead

            You said: “Also, on a “yes, but…” note, it remains undeniable that some of the best anti-psychiatry documentaries have been done by CCHR/Scientology (without promoting their own “brand”).”

            Their strategy of not openly promoting their “brand” is all part of their sneaky and deceptive methods of political organizing for Scientology.

            The same thing goes for “Natural News” which is another internet front for Scientology. Even some people in this blog were promoting how good this website is without knowing that it is a Scientology front group.

            Now if someone were to start quoting that source, this would give Psychiatry and the Establishment another easy opening to label us all Scientologists.


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          • Richard, that was me saying I tend to agree with Natural News these days. I didn’t know it was run by Scientology but I also don’t see that as a valid reason to stop reading. It’s very disingenuous and lazy intellectually to write off an idea because of who proposed it. I don’t tend to have very long conversations with people who argue using those tactics.

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          • I share your interest, Richard, in confronting and opposing corporatocracy. That said, the problem predates the Psycho-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex by a long shot. Thorazine only entered the mental health market in the 1950s. Since then, the psych-drug industry has grown into a multi-billion dollar monstrosity. Robert Burton wrote The Anatomy of Melancholy in 1621. To anatomize sadness/”depression” [sic] is to see it as a disease. The artificial disease industry since then, piggy backing the drug industry, has grown big, big, big. These are two different but related issues. I don’t think you need to bring down empire to tear down the psychiatric system, however I do think dismantling the system is related to bringing down empire. To put it another way, all of the patients have run out of my asylum. Psychiatry’s decline is not guaranteed by social revolution, and I can’t wait for that social revolution to occur, in so far as the psychiatric system is concerned, to do it in. Such doing in, if you notice, hasn’t happened in the past. I ran out of patience, so-to-speak, over this issue long, long ago. Change the political system, sure, you just don’t have to completely connect it with changing the psychiatric system. They, the politico movers and shakers, don’t always tend to be with us, the detractors of psychiatry, and when they are with us, their political allegiance crosses all party lines.

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          • Kindredspirit

            In NO WAY was this a criticism of you. And I am not suggesting people should not read this material or watch CCHR videos. They can be instructive in many ways, especially if we can tract down the sources for their information and statistics so we can use it in our own anti-Psychiatry political work.

            I only bring this up because I believe very strongly that Scientology is a dangerous (powerful and well funded) cult that should be avoided at all costs, including any kind of unknown connections.

            Respectfully, Richard

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          • Hey RIchard, no worries – I didn’t take it as a criticism. Rather, I’m pointing out that when people use that tactic “X is unreliable because it’s promoted by Y and Y is bad”, I find that intellectually lazy. If X (Natural News) is bad, I’d like to know the merits of it being bad, which would include things like promoting propaganda, deliberately misinforming, skewing science, playing on fears. But X cannot be bad simply because Y (Scientologists) promote it. This is a syllogistic logical fallacy called ‘Guilt by Association’. Therefore it is intellectually lazy for people to write something off because some person or group they don’t approve of is behind the idea. It’s a common silencing tactic for when someone doesn’t want to have an intellectually honest debate.

            I’m sure you know this, I’m explaining it for those who are reading and interested in why it’s not a valid argument.

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    • 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.)

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      • 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.

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        • Actually, I have an interesting anecdote about Szasz here. When he was in England, he met with people from Asylum Magazine. they wanted to have his autograph but had no piece of paper to put it on. So they give him a copy of Asylum (which has a nickname “toward a democratic psychiatry.” He took up his pen about to sign, then stopped, saying, “I cannot sign this–it has the word “psychiatry on it!”

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          • I love that, Bonnie. What is a democratic psychiatry? Or how can we get there? I don’t think any democracy can come out of locking people up, taking away their rights and using coercion, deceiving them, doing tortures such as electroshock, and shooting them up with dangerous drugs. I thought democracy was participatory where all people had rights to the decision-making process. I would say psych is anti-democracy, the pinnacle of it.

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          • In Italy you had Franco Basaglia, communist and resistance fighter during WWII, and his Psichiatria Democratica movement, something that might have made Szasz pause a long time, pen in hand, over this linkage of the word democratic with the word psychiatry. Basaglia was another psychiatrist who distanced himself from the antipsychiatry movement of the time, like Szasz himself, despite Szasz connecting him with antipsychiatry in his book, Quackery Squared.

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  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.

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    • Yes, Judi, who without question was otherwise absolutely wonderful, always dismissed antipsychiatry this way, clearly ignoring such vital antipsychiatry warriors as psychiatric survivors Lenny Lapon and Don Weitz as well as the vast majority of people who wrote for leading survivor magazines like Phoenix Rising. Clearly her movement was not antipsychiatry (which is one the reasons that I have carefully distinguished between the survivor movement and the antipsychiatry movement– saying that they interpenetrate but are not the same–and clearly this was not one of her areas of expertise.

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      • Very true statement, Bonnie. You’ve got all this literature and media coverage of the antipsychiatry of psychiatrists and academics. What you don’t have is any coverage of the heroic antipsychiatry of psychiatric survivor activists like Don, Lenny, Ted, writers of Phoenix Rising, and writers of Madness Network News. These two movements do interpenetrate, but they are not the same. Many within the psychiatric survivor movement are none too friendly with anything pertaining to antipsychiatry.

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        • She was anti-psychiatry, Frank, on a personal level if not a tactical one. Many of her positions on this stuff were similar to yours. Without her the movement would not have become what it was. I knew Judi well and spent considerable movement as well as “party” time with her from 1976 till the early 80’s and remained in occasional contact thereafter. I’m not trying to get into “movement gossip,” but to provide some historical clarification. The vanguard of the movement WAS anti-psychiatry in its basic approach, and this is confirmed by the 1982 Toronto principles, which were modeled on those originally drawn up for the Boston conference six years earlier, which was sponsored by Mental Patients’ Liberation Front. And what Judi said about “antipsychiatrists” was absolutely accurate. Not that I didn’t have disagreements with her at times, but that’s irrelevant.

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          • You have to remember that back in the day, psychiatry wasn’t the same as it is now. Now it’s all the drugs. But even back then, incarceration was the main thing they did to known nutcases, and they still do. So psychiatrists put people iin nuthouses, mainly, and did “treatment” on the prisoners. i think we agree, do we not, that locking up people and doing “treatments” on them that largely are unsuccessful, if not, disasters, for sure needs to be abolished. Wish I could do it in an instant.

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    • 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.

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        • P.S. I don’t think that “intolerance” of “abolitionist” language is the problem, it’s the insistence that one can only be anti-psychiatry if they DO use it. It seems more like a loyalty oath or something at this point.

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          • 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.

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          • 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.

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          • 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.

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          • 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.

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          • 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.

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      • Actually, I have an interesting anecdote about Szasz here. When he was in England, he met with people from Asylum Magazine. they wanted to have his autograph but had no piece of paper to put it on. So they give him a copy of Asylum (which has a nickname “toward a democratic psychiatry.” He took up his pen about to sign, then stopped, saying, “I cannot sign this–it has the word “psychiatry on it!”

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          • I don’t know how to shed light here, but Judi was concerned that if a total antipsychiatry position was taken and was successful, it would leave people in the lurch who were in serious emotional distress. Now I agree with her and always have that antipsychiatry needs to take cognizance of of the difficult straights in which people find themselves and needs for example to make sure that people who have been coping by the use of psychiatric drugs will still have them at their disposal. Judi and I actually had two meetings in toronto not long after she made the statement that Oldhead is referring to. The first was just between the two of us, and it was precisely on who she had in mind when she critiqued antipsychiatry folk and how to understand her disagreement, though we quickly drifted into discussing feminism. The second was a meeting precisely on the paucity of feminist analysis in the movement and on this she met with three of us Toronto antipsychiatry Toronto women On the first issue, which actually, we both saw as a far less urgent issue, we never came to any resolution, though my sense is that the two of us walked away with more mutual understanding, also with increased respect for one another. On the second, the agreement was more or less total, but the feminist initiative that we were hoping would materialize out of the discussion never exactly happened. Would we have gone further on either of these issues had she visited Toronto again? I would like to think so, but that necessarily remains an unknown.

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          • Bonnie I do not know anything about Judi Chamberlain – had never heard of her until this discussion. But I think I agree with her that this is a feminist issue. From my vantage point on the far left, I see that teen and adult women are the overwhelming users of psychiatric medications and diagnoses. That the issues making women depressed and despondent are social justice issues. That issues such as income inequality and societal definitions of who is a good and proper woman are harmful. That women internalize certain roles from a very young age and that it can be difficult to break free from those roles. That the various changes in women’s lives are shamed instead of honored and supported. As a birthmother/firstmother, I have a great deal of personal experience with the shaming that goes along with motherhood. It’s no wonder that women are turning to medicine and embracing the one socially acceptable model that (seemingly) doesn’t shame them.

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    • 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.

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      • 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.

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    • 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.

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      • 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.

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        • 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.

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  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?

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    • 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.

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      • 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.

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        • 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.


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        • 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.

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          • 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.

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          • 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.

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          • 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.

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        • 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?

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