Some Thoughts About Conferences


Editor’s note: for personal and family reasons the author has chosen to publish under a pen name. 

It might sound strange, as I still get told a lot how young I seem to be, but I’m fed up with attending conferences. At each of them we talk and analyze psychiatry as if we have to justify to ourselves that we’re standing on the right side, or as if we’re waiting for someone to give us the right to do what we do. We repeat again and again what’s wrong with psychiatry, how we need different forms of support, that a social change is needed, etc. From conference to conference I keep asking myself, why all this?

Without judging the motivation of people presenting and speaking at conferences — and without forgetting that ex-users of psychiatry are still struggling to be heard and conferences are there to give voice to those with lived experience — I’d like to ask the question: can we achieve more with these conferences than generating knowledge and touching people’s hearts?

Why is it important to ask such a question? It is important because we are judging a miserable situation in society. We should therefore ask ourselves if our kind of disputation, which is mainly critical and analytical, fits with the judged grievance. In other words: are we preparing the ground for change or are we marking time?

We all know what’s going wrong in psychiatry and what should be changed. We’ve known for decades. That’s the reason I don’t think well make much difference with further analyses of this kind. What we need is to work out strategies for how to use our critique to change and abolish psychiatry. We need to analyze where the cracks in psychiatry are, and take action with our critique at exactly those points to knock over the monopoly on ‘truth’ that psychiatry has had. We need to sit with each other and discuss how we can build up places to support each other and be who we are, no matter what anyone else is saying about who and what we are. Reaching out for more people to join our movement is quite important, but it feels secondary to me. It feels more urgent to ask: where and when will we start to attack?

This step away from defense to attack takes a lot of courage and strength. We have to pit ourselves against a recognized system — but one that is showing small fracture points. It can feel like running against a big wall in a strong head wind. And that’s why we need to prepare ourselves very well, and take advantage of any weak spots in the psychiatric system.

In order to do this, we need an analysis of what psychiatry looks like these days. In my opinion, that’s the reason our movement hasn’t made more progress in recent years: psychiatry has changed in the last few decades but we haven’t reacted to that with our critique and our actions.

Psychiatry, for example, has evolved into something which is more diverse than its core, the closed psychiatric ward. The western world’s psychiatry has lost its concrete shape — it’s also now working on preventive and normalizing strategies, for example. When it’s working preventive it’s not only looking at the limited part of the population that they call sick, but also focusing on the environment and how to influence the environment to avoid people getting sick in general. In contrast to this, when it is working in a normalizing way it is no longer bounded to the concepts of health or sickness but rather how to affect people in general to make them fulfill expectations about what a ‘normal human’ being should be (without defining exactly what a normal being is).

The result is a much wider population of people who are affected by these techniques. It’s not just about ‘sick’ people which psychiatry is ‘treating’ but also about how ‘normal’ people think and the psychological techniques they can use on themselves to reach their wishes and goals. This means that the power of psychiatry nowadays not only works through oppression but also by providing people with a certain kind of understanding of who they are and how they can evaluate, control and change themselves.

An attack by the antipsychiatry movement which is solely focused on the core of the closed institutions won’t see these aspects of the psychiatric system, and without a critical analysis of the further techniques of the psychiatric/psychological system we can easily be disarmed with the argument that “psychiatry has changed since the 70s and is nowadays a modern social service.” If we don’t want to come to nothing, we need a current analysis and theory of the current psychiatric scenery.

So let us sharpen our analysis, let us plan strategies for change and let us work up the courage to take action against this psychiatric/psychological system. This essentially means that we have to acknowledge that antipsychiatry is a part of a bigger social movement and therefore never lose the view on society as a whole. Because isn’t that exactly what we are criticizing? That psychiatry is shifting sociopolitical topics into the individual realm, and by doing so, shifting the urge to change economic and social aspects of society toward behavioral changes of the individual self, even going so far as to describe it as biological issues?

This also means that we can’t do it all alone. We need to connect with other movements who fight for an emancipation of society, who fight against the capitalist application of life and against discrimination, so we can fight together for a world where life is not valued in economic terms but is valuable in its own existence.

Let’s try and use the next conference meetings to share with each other about our local situations and how we can inspire and support each other in the fight against the psychiatric/psychological system. Let’s put our heads together to map out the weak spots in these systems and plan our strategies of attack accordingly. I do not consider myself an expert on what the current weak spots are, but one example that stands out to me as a source of inspiration was the homosexuality diagnosis being abolished in 1973. This was the result of a successful effort to force the APA to change a certain part of their manual using a blocking strategy that caused a lot of media coverage.

Last but not least: one opportunity to reach out to the public with a radical critique on psychiatry might be the WPA’s World Congress of Psychiatry which will be held in Berlin this October. But I have to express my doubts that focusing on such big events will help our movement in the long run instead of focusing on sustainable development of our movement, especially as we would focus on a big event of the opposition and put ourselves in a defensive position rather than creating our own platform. Sure, we could disrupt their congress, spoil their pleasure and have a lot of pleasure ourselves while hopefully winning some new people for the antipsychiatry movement, but we shouldn’t expect to change the foundation of psychiatry with such a protest. The fights against the foundation of these systems are fought somewhere else. They are much more unexceptional, unimpressive, but all the more important. And they start by reclaiming the different expressions of human beings back from the fields of experts, and instead of delegitimizing difference by stigmatizing it with a diagnosis, respecting each other in our different kinds of being.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. “Ex-users”??? I’m afraid that for me the mental patients’ movement and the mental patients’ liberation movement are two entirely different things, just as patient rights and human rights are entirely different, and never the twain shall meet. Were we talking ‘slave rights’, well, you know how that goes. The rights of the slave are the rights of the slave owner, or, rather, slaves don’t have any rights. This lack of rights corresponds to the right to treatment without any right to refuse treatment. You have the right to have treatment forcibly imposed upon you. How do you like them apples? They’re all rotten if you ask me.

    We used to have a much more radical movement. I think we need a more radical movement than the one we’ve got. Some of us never got the hang of being maltreated by psychiatry. Given our recent losses in the legislative arena, it might make more sense to return to something more akin to the movement we used to have. That movement, as I remember it, was not so much a mental patients’ movement as it was a mental patients liberation movement. Freedom, a human right, comes with sloughing the mental patient role, a product of oppression.

    I don’t want a seat at the World Congress of Psychiatry. If there’s a congress I’d want a seat at it would be the World Congress of Liberation From Psychiatry. We need our own conferences, and this is something we don’t have any more. Instead, you have these Alt. treatment Conferences. No treatment is the greatest kept Alt. treatment secret of all time. It’s also the most ignored option of the myriad options available. If my “sickness” was a myth, my “recovery” was the exposure of the treatment for that “sickness” as out and out fraud. We still haven’t gotten people to recognize, in other words, the intolerance that treatment represents for the intolerance that treatment in fact is. I say that’s a good enough reason to get any sort of a public gathering off the ground.

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    • Hi Frank,

      thanks a lot for your comment. My written english is not the best, but I try to reply:
      I know that internationally the term “survivor” is much more common than “ex-user”. But as I’m based in Germany and the term “survivor” is specifically used for survivors of the Shoah, I prefer using “ex-user” as long as I don’t know a better term. There was even a long debate about whether “survivor” is going to be used in Germany or not some years ago in the European Network of (ex)users and survivors of psychiatry (ENUSP).

      Kim (pronoun “they”)

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      • Understood. “Consumer” is the more conventional term for the same thing here in the states. I wouldn’t really encourage anybody to “consume” or “use” mental health services, especially when those services are usually a matter of “maintaining” one on harmful chemicals, when they aren’t a matter of holding one physically a prisoner. I see a schism between “using”, what has more than a potential to kill, and ‘surviving’, namely, that killing. In practical terms, ‘mental health’ could be defined as not “using” or “consuming” mental health services. “Using/consuming” the mental health oppression system is the way that that system expands. A great way to fight the system, once one has gotten beyond it, is to cease “using” it. Given more and more people, survivors, ceasing to “use/consume” mental health services, the mental health authorities will have to look elsewhere for employment, not wanting to starve. Right now the CDC is talking about “epidemics” of “mental disorder”. You don’t get such “epidemics” out of system contraction. Additionally, with fewer people harmed by treatment, you get more physical health as well.

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        • Frank, Thanks for the clarification. I have seen both terms used on this site by those who have been caught in the web of the mh system, but I will try to remember this is the preferred one especially since some find it ‘offensive’. I particularly don’t care for either term, as they both imply a choice rather than the victimization that is going on thanks to the deceptive narrative being spun. It’s only by serendipity or grace or whatever someone wants to call it that my wife didn’t end up in the web as well…or maybe it’s because we both grew up on the right and didn’t expect the system/gov’t to do everything for us…but that’s a discussion for another thread…

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  2. Great blog that raises all the key questions about the current weaknesses and strengths in our movement against psychiatric oppression.

    Three years ago I wrote a blog that brought up similar issues. Here are a few quotes:

    “…This evolution of psychiatry in the recent era has to be carefully examined in connection to its strong links to the U.S. economy, especially the meteoric rise in the pharmaceutical industry, as well as other geo-political developments in the world, including increased governmental control and forms of repression in post 9/11 America….”

    “…Biological Psychiatry is not your grandmother’s or father’s psychiatry, as the expression goes; it’s not just “psychiatry being psychiatry” all over again. It is exponentially more dangerous and powerful than ever, and absolutely more essential to the “powers that be” in preserving the status quo. To not understand or grasp these historic changes will cause us to underestimate what we are up against and possibly misdirect us away from knowing how to develop the appropriate strategy for future efforts to end all psychiatric oppression….”

    “…To those who say that “psychiatry is dead,” and that it’s about ready to “collapse under its own weight” and that it just needs a little push from us to knock it down for good, I say this fails to understand what psychiatry has truly become in today’s world and how deeply entrenched and valuable it is to the ruling classes and to the survival of their entire monopoly capitalist system…”

    “…All these facts and statistics, combined with our own collective experience living within this system, leads us to one possible chilling conclusion: Today’s Biological Psychiatry has become such an essential part of the economic and political fabric holding together our present day society, including its ability and need to maintain control over the more volatile sections of the population, that its future existence may be totally interdependent on the rise and fall of the entire system itself…”

    The bottom line is that – Biological Psychiatry and all the institutions it colludes with for its current existence and overall power position in our society, has become TOO BIG AND IMPORTANT FOR MAINTAINING THE STATUS QUO TO BE ALLOWED TO FAIL.

    As the author of the above blog points out, it is vitally important that the anti-psychiatry movement link itself up with ALL the other key movements against the System, which should include the environmental movement, anti-racist movement, anti-fascist movement, women’s movement, LGBT etc.

    Key forms of direct action at key targets are important to weaken the enemy and organize new forces. BUT this alone is not enough as the above blog indicates. We do need to broaden our analysis, as well as, find creative ways to expose Psychiatry and increase our numbers and supporters. BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY we cannot succeed in this movement by trying to “go it alone.”

    AND we cannot underestimate the importance of forming some type of vanguard organizations that have both a solid overall analysis and a strategy for advancing the struggle at this particular time which identifies psychiatry’s weak points and engages with them more on our terms.


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  3. It’s about money and you need to address the money to fight against it. Go talk to hedge funds, as to why they should take massive short positions against the drug companies. Talk about toxic psychosis and withdrawal toxic psychosis and how easy it is to get it once subject to polypharmacy or even a few SSRI tablets, and that it can and does turn normal people into suicidal killers. Tell them why they need to know what Akathisia is and what it really is.

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  4. A good analysis of the problem, to which I would add: 1) Those of us offering solutions are locked out because we are “part of the system.” I am not allowed to blog on MIA because I would be attacked as a professional. Yet I am offering a replacement model for the DSM, but have great difficulty getting a hearing for these ideas because I am a professional. 2) The survivor movement must broaden its focus and inclusivity to include those who do not have “severe mental disorders” as this is a vast segment of the population that is being ignored in this movement. Millions of people have mild anxiety/depression/etc and may take a prescription or see a psychotherapist, but never have experience in inpatient treatment, ECT, antipsychotic medications, etc. Labeling organizations with names such as “hearing voices” brings support to some, but also excludes and frightens others. 2) I believe we must challenge the DSM as a weak point. It lacks validity and reliability, is based on subjective decisions rather than science, etc etc, as outlined by many. This will also be a major battle, just as attacking Big Pharma, but it is essential. The myth/belief system that “mental disorders” are biological diseases must be discarded before we can reframe “mental disorders” as normal, adaptive human responses to trauma, attachment insecurity and emotions such as fear, loneliness and shame. Lots more at

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    • Harper

      You said: ” I am not allowed to blog on MIA because I would be attacked as a professional. Yet I am offering a replacement model for the DSM, but have great difficulty getting a hearing for these ideas because I am a professional.”

      Can you explain more of your meaning here? There are many professionals who blog at MIA. Over the past 4-5 years I (as a professional) have 18 published blogs at this website. That said, that does NOT mean its always easy or that you don’t need a thick skin and the ability to accept and contemplate penetrating criticisms of your words and ideas. But it is overall a great opportunity to learn and teach through this intense form of dialogue, especially from those with “lived experience.”

      And speaking of criticism: your website ( ) reveals that you are indeed a real critic of the current “mental health” system and you even use the word “anti-psychiatry.” And in this comment above you put “mental disorders” in quotes BUT on your website you list “bipolar disorder” and a few other DSM “disorders” WITHOUT quotes. Is this just an oversight on your part or do you believe there is a basis to call these types of behaviors and thoughts some type of “mental disorder?”


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    • Harper, you say:

      “The survivor movement must broaden its focus and inclusivity to include those who do not have “severe mental disorders” as this is a vast segment of the population that is being ignored in this movement. Millions of people have mild anxiety/depression/etc and may take a prescription or see a psychotherapist, but never have experience in inpatient treatment, ECT, antipsychotic medications, etc.”

      If you are talking about broadening the tent to include the ‘worried well’ well yes, it’s true that we need more people to understand that they have a dog in this fight so we are not just this small group of people singing to the choir. It would certainly be nice to exercise some real political clout for a change, not just stand around the abominable wreckage of legislation known as the Cures Bill like deer caught in the headlights. If one person’s rights are violated via the practice of coercive/forced/harmful psychiatry, everyone is at risk. We should all care.

      My sister-in-law who takes anxiety medication or my niece who takes anti depressants will ever feel anything but fear and repulsion at the thought of being in ‘solidarity’ with my daughter who has that infernally stupid label of serious and persistent mentally ill

      My daughter hallucinates and is out of touch with reality sporadically and we work very hard to create a welcoming home environment for her so she has a sense of belonging and safety to be herself. Her behavior isn’t violent or over the top but when she shares her world view and her basic experiences with others, outside the safety of our home, particularly with strangers, I can see people start backing away towards the doors. Strangers in public places don’t know what to make of her.

      Organizing for change requires that stakeholders unite. Uniting requires that stakeholders communicate and feel comfortable with one another. People with general anxiety or depression are trying desperately to fit in, Identifying with the outcasts terrifies them. We can say that ‘mental illness’ is a spectrum and all of us are located somewhere on that spectrum since we all have emotional and mental challenges. As it concerns disability, aging assures that everyone of us will eventually be disabled. But the reality is that the terror of being ‘sick’ or disabled or ‘mad’ or homeless has most of us immobilized in a fog of fear that prevents us from reaching out to the outcasts.

      As a family, we gave up long time ago aspiring to be ‘normal’ because we aren’t. Our healing as a family began when we gave up trying to maintain a facade of ‘normality’ Not sure what we are, I guess you could say we are ourselves. But I observe people where I used to be, desperately trying to stay under the radar by conforming to the neighbor’s expectations.

      Oddly, it’s liberating on the other side. Giving up the need to be normal changes one self perception dramatically for the better. Tolerance is learned through a very difficult sifting process and burning away with laser precision, much of the crap we’ve a person has been conditioned to believe he/she needs to be happy.

      Not sure if we could get my neice and my sister in law involved in the movement. They would spend their time at their first meeting smelling people and wondering why don’t people use laundry sheets and Glade like me, but I suppose its worth a try.

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      • To Madmom: ‘a facade of normalcy’ and ‘staying under the radar’ is NOT always because families are ‘aspiring to be normal’. For some families it is the only way to ensure that the net of forced treatment is avoided….,

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        • When I said ‘aspire to be normal’ I was referring to all my income level, the kind of car I drive, excessive consumption, mass entertainment, comfort objects I surround myself with, and chasing things that bring ‘status’. All of those things seem of little value compared to connecting with someone you love, a slow meal with friends, a gladiolus, a smile, and a small act of kindness.

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          • Hi madmom,

            thanks for your comment and sharing. You said:

            “If you are talking about broadening the tent to include the ‘worried well’ well yes, it’s true that we need more people to understand that they have a dog in this fight so we are not just this small group of people singing to the choir.”

            I think so too, but would even go further and say: Psychiatry has linked itself with Psychology so much in the past centuries that the focus has even to be as wide as “normality” (aka people who think they are normal and society is handling them as such) to even get a small clue of what Psychiatry is today. Cause all those “normal” people are deeply using psychiatric and psychological technique which they learned from pop culture like self help books and books of how to manage your emotions and stuff (especially the middle class).


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          • Madmom Thanks for clarifying…I couldn’t agree with you more about that.

            I guess I am very sensitive about how having to ‘stay under the radar’ interferes with a healing environment and often prevents people and families from moving forward….another lovely gift from the current coercive system of ‘care’.

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    • I agree 100% that the DSM is at the core of the evil rot that is being perpetrated across the world. Unfortunately, the DSM’s claptrap is supported by a general belief, almost religious in nature, that doctors are smart and ethical and can be trusted. How do we accomplish undermining the DSM without running afoul of the worship of “medical science” as a stable point for many people’s security?

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      • Well said; I always appreciate your comments.

        I believe that the only way to undermine the DSM (psychiatry) without “running afoul of the worship of ‘medical science'” is to challenge its legitimacy as a medical science. A medical science is (by definition) a biological science and a biological science that addresses a philosophy of “mind” is pseudoscience by definition. I believe that our greatest allies are medical students who “bash” psychiatry as “not a real medical science;” they have credibility. Medical students will defend the integrity of medical science (before they become more vested in its defense); students are more reverent of the truth. I am planning to take my protest against psychiatry to the local medical school and protest near the student union.

        Best wishes, Steve

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  5. I agree, I stopped going to conferences years ago. OK, part of it was financial, but closed mindedness is not limited to TAC and others who insist drugs are the only possible answer. We all too often attack one another when a single area of disagreement pops up. Each of our experiences are different, yet the need for major reform of the mental health system should be the glue which binds us together. Perhaps the first step in that direction should be to insist that proper diagnosis procedures be established. Was the Koran algorithm ( devised at Stanford University more than 25 years ago to help eliminate physical conditions which can cause or exacerbate psych problems – ten items of medical history, measurement of blood pressure, and sixteen laboratory tests -thirteen blood tests and three urine tests) utilized? Was a trauma history taken? Are magnesium levels checked? (Magnesium is a key component in the body’s manufacture of serotonin. Low magnesium levels causes deficient serotonin – and subsequent problems.) Without these basics being checked, confidence levels in psychiatry deservedly remain low.

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  6. GREAT article, and really good comments too. I especially like the emphasis the author puts on talking about strategy and what actions we can take. I would add that any future conferences should make sure we work more on being supportive of one another, as our liberation movement sometimes makes me feel as if I am back in Rockland State Hospital, where I grew up.

    I think it is a blessing in disguise that SAMHSA and the rest of the “mental health” system will no longer fund the “Alternatives” conference. This leaves us free to talk about what we need to do to end the power of psychiatry.

    Myself, I think what we need are small, regional conferences, where people have to drive a few hours at most with a car full of comrades, and where the expenses are kept down so that people don’t have to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars to attend. We need to spend some time trying to create a nurturing, supportive atmosphere, and then do just what the author suggests — work on our strategy for taking away psychiatry’s power. It makes no sense to me to have a conference where all we do is talk. Of course, that is the kind of conference which is (or was) exactly what the funders wanted. In the process of doing this, we will also be creating new leaders, who by thinking about what needs to be done, will be training themselves to actually do it.

    And we need to go back to the practice we had before SAMHSA took over, where we had a demonstration against whatever oppressive “mental health” facility is nearby. Never any shortage of those! This emphasizes for the conference-goers what our task is as a movement.

    The first such conference may need to be national, but it can still be relatively small, and I think it should be. MindFreedom International had such a conference in 2000, and it was generally thought to be a success.

    But after that, what I am hoping to see is that most or even all the conference attendees each organize a local conference of their own, hopefully dozens of small conferences around the country, each covering a relatively small area, so that a network can be formed and people can get to know one another face to face, not just on their computer on some &#(&!!$)&$## “social media.” And doing this will give a lot of new people practice in being leaders themselves. Even if they are able to gather up a dozen people or so, or even just a handful who meet in someone’s living room, they will experience themselves as actually LEADING. We need this kind of grassroots organizing. In fact, we had this before until we let the system take us over.

    A group of even a dozen people who are closely knit and have a strategy for what they want to do in their area can accomplish a lot.

    So thank you again for this excellent article, which I think calls for just what our human rights movement needs. And I invite the author to contact me, and perhaps we (and a lot of others, it seems) can all work together to carry out what this article calls for. If we stick together, we can still achieve what I and many others have tried to do for a long time.

    The people united will never be defeated!

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    • This is what I hope we accomplish with Southern California Against Forced Treatment. A conference is a lot of work, but we can start by building up a close-knit core group, and use existing conferences like Western Recovery and Models of Pride as opportunities for recruitment.

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      • Yes, Daniel, the Southern California group already has a good core, as far as I can tell. And I think you have plenty of people there to organize a small conference in your area. People have grown used to the idea that conferences have to have many hundreds of people, and be held in expensive hotels. Before SAMHSA, we would meet on college campuses, and at least once even at a campground. People could afford these conferences, and you didn’t have to try to get your local “mental health” department to fund you, which I hope people can now see was NOT a good idea. WE can do this! YOU can do this! Myself, I think a small close-knit conference creates an atmosphere where ideas for real organizing are easier to happen, and where people who don’t think of themselves as leaders can realize that they too can make important contributions. Go for it!

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    • If Psychiatry was identified as too corrupt to exist it might have to be “struck off”.

      In 1980 I spent several months living and working in Amsterdam. I mixed with different people; and remained in contact over the years with one Dutch friend.

      I was acquainted in Amsterdam with a Northern Irishman by the name of Kevin from Belfast who stayed at the same address as me, and who I took to be a genuine reborn Christian.

      Looking at the information on the Kevin McGrady Wikipedia Page

      I can connect it to the Northern Irish Kevin I was acquainted with, nearly too easily.

      About 10 days before leaving Amsterdam Northern Irish Kevin asked me if I could remember a conversation we’d had. I wasn’t aware we did have this conversation but then I remembered I had been out late one night and that he was the night doorman and that I hadn’t remembered even coming in that night.

      I asked him what we talked about and he said that it wasn’t important at all.

      I developed a certain caution after this, and I decided to leave Holland, though I didn’t associate my caution with Nothern Irish Kevin.

      I came into contact with the police when I returned to London. The police removed my passport which was with me at the time and didn’t return it. Following arguments with the police I was charged non seriously and ended up in a bail hostel. From there I (casually) ended up in the Maudsley Hospital.

      I wouldnt accept medication at the Maudsley. But was eventually injected and transferred to the Psychiatric Unit at the Regional Hospital Galway, Southern Ireland.

      Looking at my FOI requested Irish notes I see no mention of Amsterdam on the attached English notes. All the English information on me is very vague, fairly inaccurate and at arms length.

      When I came to Galway Regional Hospital in November of 1980 I was seen by two young Doctors one of them Irish and one non European. The non European admitting doctor had recorded me on the notes as being quite sound mentally.

      Me and the accompanying English doctor (who had a quantity of alcohol in his system) were interviewed separately.

      Our accounts did not match on significant detail; and my account did contain direct reference to Amsterdam.

      I was interviewed by the young Irish Doctor. But this young Irish doctors name never appeared on the records, his notes were copied by Consultant Psychiatrist P A Carney in his own hand and dated at several days later.

      Consultant psychiatrist P A Carney at Galway over two months battered me with psychiatric drugs to the point that on leaving hospital I was about 3 stone heavier and a physical mess. I never recovered physically from this.

      When I left Ireland in 1986 both Psychiatrist P A Carney and his boss Professor T J Fahy were well established on the Royal British College of Psychiatrists and the Professor of Pharmacology at Galway was the President of the British Association of Psychopharmacologists.

      I think it’s possible that Kevin McGrady was being groomed to give evidence as early as 1980 and did not turn up out of the blue in Belfast in January 1982 on account of a need to confess. The evidence presented in court was not convincing, and I think it’s possible in this case that the Diplock court system was corrupted.

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      • It sounds like you’re suspecting that the reason the London police took your passport, and/or the british and british-linked psychiatric authorities drugged you, was to cover up something that possibly McGrady might have accidentally let slip to you (early intelligence links). That’s a disturbing idea, and I see that at least some of McGrady’s testimony was dubious. Though it’s very difficult to differentiate from the sort of misplaced ‘paranoia’ that psychiatrists do actually claim to treat. I can only think it might be necessary for you to examine both possibilities carefully with someone able to support that process without force.

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        • Scintilla,

          I think most Supergrass arrangements are likely to be (very) corrupt; and I think a Psychiatrist in the UK could probably get away with saying “anything”.

          I suppose the real question would be if I could substantiate – what I have expressed above as “fact” (- and I believe I can).

          The other thing is, that it would appear to me that you didn’t completely take on board what I actually did say (above).

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          • Scintilla,

            Very Briefly:-

            If I can substantiate that I came from the same address as “the person referred” to, in Amsterdam in 1980, and that mention of Amsterdam is kept completely off the UK records – then I don’t see anything too strange with the idea that the two might be connected (considering the circumstances).

            Do you get it?

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          • Fiachra, it’s not showing a reply button for your latest comment so I’ll just say here

            “If I can substantiate that I came from the same address as “the person referred” to, in Amsterdam in 1980, and that mention of Amsterdam is kept completely off the UK records – then I don’t see anything too strange with the idea that the two might be connected (considering the circumstances). Do you get it?”

            – I don’t think I missed that implication in what you were originally suggesting, and I don’t think it’s too strange an idea. I do think it would still only be one fragment of a complex puzzle with a lot of questions still to address about documentation, memory, possible links between people and corruption.

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          • I don’t see what I missed originally and now I don’t see how I misrepresented you, but if you were to explain then I’d apologise.

            “attempted to make suggestions of mental illness” – well I referred to “misplaced ‘paranoia’ that psychiatrists do actually claim to treat.”

            People do sometimes get overly suspicious about possible conspiracies relating to themselves – it seems to be quite a human tendency and potentially a useful one. And of course psychiatrists sometimes try to treat that as if it’s a medical condition.

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      • You again haven’t clarified or taken back your accusations that I missed something previously, and no what I suggested was that your suspicions might be turn out to be mistaken – if you think you couldn’t possibly be mistaken, especially about such a complex issue with lots of gaps as you chose to recount it here off topic, then you’re either superhuman or you have some more general delusion?

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        • I do hope you don’t work in the “Mental Health System” as you strike me as being quite dishonest:-

          What I said in my initial commentary I said. What you did was reinterpret what I said in your own “mental” manner with clinical terms included.

          You expressed unrealistic shock at suggestions of abuse in UK Psychiatry and that the UK Police would not return of an Irish Passport (in 1980).

          If what I said in the paragraph (below) is “acceptable” then I don’t know what’s so odd about anything else:-

          “..If I can substantiate that I came from the same address as “the person referred” to, in Amsterdam in 1980, and that mention of Amsterdam is kept completely off the UK records – then I don’t see anything too strange with the idea that the two might be connected (considering the circumstances)…”

          (I notice you’ve introduced more of your “mental” descriptions in your last comment!).

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          • You’ve again not clarified your original accusations that I missed something in your original post, now you’ve said that I expressed unrealistic shock at what it suggested when in fact i wasn’t shocked at all as I know how much corruption goes on and what I said was it’s a disturbing possibility, and now accusing me of dishonesty etc. I said that psychiatrists claim to treat misplaced ‘paranoia’. And yes now I have asked whether you are superhuman or deluded as to not seeming to think you could possibly be wrong? This is why I suggested you go over this with someone who can support a safe enquiry by you of the situation, not post it to strangers under unrelated posts and then make unclarified accusations at them instead of helping yourself, which btw is not good for my feelings/wellbeing either.

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          • Dear Scintilla and Fiachra, would it be wise to ‘bury the hatchet’ at this stage and allow all of us to continue a very important debate as to how, as psychiatrists, we can learn outside the box to prepare ourselves for the 21st century with all the attendant issues of minimal state funding for mental health, increasing public use of new tech for monitoring and treating mental health symptoms, lack of spiritual values (compassion, mercy, repentance) in the mental health field?
            Kind regards to you both.

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          • You’re using your “mental” descriptions here again.

            What have you missed?
            I believe I qualified anything I said in my first post fairly carefully. But you seem to have entitled yourself to reinterpret what I did say and to add your own “mental” input.

            Please tell me where the “paranoia” is outside of your own paranoid re interpretation?

            Please tell me what you are suggesting I am “possibly” wrong on?

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          • pdesilva (shola) – this is not an unrelated argument, can you not see that? I’m not sure what you mean by the thread being for those very important abstract discussions by ‘we, as psychiatrists’. Kind regards.

            Fiachra – I’m still not sure what I missed in your original post, indeed I summed up what I thought you were alleging so you could correct me as I wasn’t totally sure. But yes I am using ‘mental’ terms, is that not allowed?? Seems to me there’s a serious problem in these circles with conflating talk of ‘mental illness’ with talk of anything psychological. Judging what’s going on is for every one of us a partly psychological process, how can it be otherwise? Does antipsychiatry amount to anti-talking-about-our-minds? Is antipsychiatry in collusion with a social arrogance about intellect and a social stigma against psychological discusions?

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          • Hi both, I guess I am a Critical Psychiatrist, very much a practicing clinician in the North of England. In Geordie land, we don’t have abstract discussions on topics such as central government cutbacks, stigma, new tech. Paranoid is not a technical term, more in keeping with public stigma.

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          • pdeliva (Shola) – it’s not a technical term? In paranoid PD? Or until recently paranoid type of schizophrenia etc? Used in defining delusional disorders perhaps? I don’t think it’s necessary or helpful to appear to be challenging stigma by pretending these things (the diagnoses and possibly some partially related reality) don’t exist?

            Fiachra – Thank you for acknowledging some point I made, though I’m aggrieved that you’re still threatening a lack of politeness. I referred to it being difficult to tell from the account you gave, whether you have reasonable grounds for the links you suspect or whether you have some bias/motive towards believing it, because there are huge gaps in or questions about it, such as what Kevin McGrady (I assume) even said to you, but you presented it as a logical sequence. All the questions necessary to clarify that can’t possibly be asked here on this thread about conferences, can they? You said you talked to psychiatrists about Amsterdam and ended up drugged for months, though one said you were mentally sound. How do I know what to make of that?

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          • Scintilla,

            I have to say I can’t really make that much sense out of what you’ve said here (- maybe you’re drunk).

            In my initial post I mostly stated facts – that I could substantiate. You reinterpretated what I had stated inaccurately, and then went on to suggest “mental illness” in me, on the basis of your inaccurate reinterpretation.

            In the final paragraph I carefully stated that the Kevin McGrady case might have been “corrupted”. In my opinion anyone could make a similar statement about any similar:-
            1.”Supergrass” Case
            2. Conducted In a Non Jury Court –
            3. Without being considered Mentally Ill.

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          • Fiachra,

            “You reinterpretated what I had stated inaccurately” – I still don’t understand how, can’t you clarify?

            “and then went on to suggest “mental illness” in me – not quite, I referred to something that psychiatrists might diagnose as a paranoid disorder. I didn’t say that would be my view, even if that were the case, did I? Did I? Does nuance not matter to you in making accusations, or in suggesting I’m drunk in what you presumably think is a matching insult?

            “In the final paragraph I carefully stated that the Kevin McGrady case might have been “corrupted”. In my opinion anyone could make a similar statement about any similar:- 1.”Supergrass” Case
            2. Conducted In a Non Jury Court – 3. Without being considered Mentally Ill.”

            That the McGrady case might have been corrupted is only one of the things you stated. I totally agree with that possibility, as I already said, and I totally agree with your points about not incurring prejudice against yourself for simply considering or alleging that. But that’s not all you said, is it? Is it? You suggested that you were psychiatrically detained and drugged after telling them about Amsterdam, not because you supposedly met criteria for a supposed disorder, but because the senior psychiatrists were involved in a conspiracy to cover up something unknown that presumably McGrady told you. I merely pointed out that it’s difficult to tell from what you said whether they might have had grounds under the criteria to detain/drug you.

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          • Scintilla,

            I SAID THIS:-
            “..When I came to Galway Regional Hospital in November of 1980 I was seen by two young Doctors one of them Irish and one non European. The non European admitting doctor had recorded me on the notes as being quite sound mentally.

            Me and the accompanying English doctor (who had a quantity of alcohol in his system) were interviewed separately.

            Our accounts did not match on significant detail; and my account did contain direct reference to Amsterdam.

            I was interviewed by the young Irish Doctor. But this young Irish doctors name never appeared on the records, his notes were copied by Consultant Psychiatrist P A Carney in his own hand and dated at several days later.

            Consultant psychiatrist P A Carney at Galway over two months battered me with psychiatric drugs to the point that on leaving hospital I was about 3 stone heavier and a physical mess. I never recovered physically from this….”

            I DIDNT SAY THIS :-
            “…You suggested that you were psychiatrically detained and drugged after telling them about Amsterdam, not because you supposedly met criteria for a supposed disorder, but because the senior psychiatrists were involved in a conspiracy to cover up something unknown that presumably McGrady told you. I merely pointed out that it’s difficult to tell from what you said whether they might have had grounds under the criteria to detain/drug you…”

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          • The first thing I replied to you was: “IT SOUNDS LIKE…” you’re suspecting a conspiratorial connection between the psychiatric treatment of you and the guy you knew in Amsterdam.

            You said not entirely, I said what do you mean? You said there might be a connection between the guy in Amsterdam being the supergrass, and your mention of Amsterdam being kept off your UK psychiatric records.

            Ok I see now that in my original reply to you, I referred to the drugging of you rather than the not including your mentions of Amsterdam in your notes. I wasn’t intentionally not mentioning specifically the notes issue as well, which is why I didn’t understand your reply – I sort of meant that when I referred to ‘cover up’, but I’d jumped ahead to the horrible drug treatment of you.

            Maybe actually I was a bit thrown by the idea of the consultant copying (with omissions) the junior doctor’s notes and signing them himself. I think I had questions about that but it was too much to ask about, like how you know his notes were a copy of the original doctors, how sure are you (based on the fact that anyone’s perceptions/memories are not as reliable as we like to think, and not knowing your mental state at the time) that he didn’t see you initially perhaps in addition to the junior doctor, how have they purported to explain it, stuff like that.

            Presumably you are including the drugging as something the same psychiatrist then did as part of the same conspiracy (I use the term neutrally), though? I’m still not sure, though, if you’re saying the claimed basis for that treatment was a type of condition entirely unrelated to accusations of conspiracies.

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          • Fiachra, what do you mean by ‘paranoid’? You’ll notice I said “misplaced ‘paranoia'” in my original reply, as I find it strange to use a term with an inherent meaning of wrong or even mad etymologically.

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        • Hi all,

          Thanks very much for your participation in the comments of this article.

          In Mad in America’s posting guidelines, we ask that comments remain on topic and engaged with the ideas of the piece. For this reason, I am now closing this particular comment thread. All future comments in this thread that are unrelated to Kim Auth’s thoughts on conferences will be moderated.

          Fiachra and Scintilla (and anyone else), if you wish to continue this particular discussion in a respectful way, please do so in the forum or via email.

          Best regards,

          Emily Cutler
          Community Moderator

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  7. Thank you so much for writing this. I had planned to submit a newcomer’s perspective on the two conferences this past week, and now I doubt how necessary that is.

    Responding to your fundamental critique of conferences, I think a paradox befalls us, which is that the people who are analytical enough to recognize the problem are also the type to do a lot of talking and not so much mobilizing.

    When we do succeed in mobilization, as in the example of removing homosexuality disorder from government regulations, it often comes from a place of narrow self-interest without the intersectionality or solidarity you’ve described. The gay community got what they wanted, and dropped out of the fight. Even as their close relatives transgender and asexual remain as mental disorders in that same regulatory manual. I fear that is the direction the anti-psychiatry movement is headed. Actually, I see that as where we already are, and I fear that we will never grow out of it.

    Our movement should be structed like a cloud but instead it is more like a tree, with little communication between the branches. Autistic people are saying autism isn’t a disorder; voice hearers are saying schizophrenia isn’t a disorder; transgender and asexual people don’t even realize that they’re part of this; people with physical disabilities proclaim “but our minds are fine.” Not nearly enough people recognize that the fundamental problems are human rights violations, force and coercion, and that we’re all in this together.

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    • Yeah, it is our job to show people that we ARE a human rights movement, and that almost everyone is at risk of being pulled into the orbit of psychiatry. Sure, we have not been very successful at reaching even our own, potentially very large constituency, but now we have a chance to do that without being told what to do by the people who both fund us and oppress us. I don’t think figuring out what to do will really be that hard. There are MANY campaigns we can do that would have an effect. We just need to strategize and ACT!

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    • Good points.

      We could still join forces with other successful Civil Rights Movements whose members are being taken advantage of by “Mental Health Systems”.

      There’s probably 10 times the amount of Severely Diagnosed black men and black women in the UK as there justifiably should be; and we all know that Severe Diagnosis can lead to severe abuse. The death rates of black men in mental health systems would also appear to be much higher than “normal”.

      Gay people are still far more represented in the UK mental health sysyem than they should be, even after taking life prejudice into account. The gay movement should still be looking for reasonable answers.

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    • Hi Daniel,

      thanks a lot for your comments.

      I see that the movement is a lot separated and this is why I think it is very important to be more supportive to one another and to get together. But it’s not only about some movements who are just minding their own business and not seeing themselves as part of the fight against the psychiatric system. As I point out it’s also us, who have to reach out to the other movements and taking part of their important fights and seeing us as part of their fights. As a non-binary person and someone who is a member of the radical left movement I know that this is not easy to do.


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  8. If MIA is indicative of the anti/reform psychiatry movement, then I think until there is a restructuring of the players within that movement, it will continue to find itself hindered. There ought to be 3, EQUAL groups partnered in this fight: the ‘professionals’, the ‘users’ and the ‘support’. But in my short time here, I have seen some of the ‘users’ regularly shout down any and all with whom they disagree and then act like they have a right to do so because of their past experiences. In doing so they deny and denigrate the very real, past experiences those of us in the other 2 groups endure. It can’t be easy being a therapist who stands against the prevailing model and all the professional shunning that goes along with that. And it sure as h3ll isn’t easy being an SO that doesn’t cut and run OR force his/her mate into the mental health system, but instead spends 24/7 helping, healing and being in this ‘together.’ Harper isn’t the only one who isn’t allowed to blog here because of her position. And until there is some recognition and respect from the ‘users’ that you can’t do this on your own, I think this movement will continue to falter.

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    • I have seen many professionals who work in the system who blog and comment on this site not get a hard time from people who have been harmed by psychiatry.

      Personally I think that those who have been harmed by psychiatry have a right shout down anyone who they disagree with.

      The comments are moderated, as I know only two well, having had a few removed in my time.

      If you feel the way comments are moderated should be changed I suggest you take it up with the people who run the site.

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      • Maybe I muddied my reply by including Harper’s complaint in my response as everyone seems to be missing the MAIN POINT of my reply…

        The original post and question was why hasn’t the movement gone further and what can be done toward that direction. I tried to point out that there really ought to be 3 components to this movement: therapists, ‘consumers’ and ‘support.’ And yet on MIA and almost everywhere I go, I am nearly an anomaly. I’ve been told my blog is the only one of its kind where a husband is deeply involved and even leading his wife’s healing. That shouldn’t be. And in fact, I think it may be part of the reason the movement on MIA and elsewhere hasn’t taken greater root. Until family members, SO’s and close friends step up and realize they are the BEST hope for someone experiencing ‘extreme states’, what other option does someone in that position have than the mental health system. And yet I’m told that on MIA I’m not allowed to have a voice unless my wife joins me.

        But that’s the entire problem: until people in my situation realize we can do what NO expert can do because we are in the trenches 24/7 with our distressed loved ones, things won’t get better. It breaks my heart every time I read an article about a family who calls the police because a family member is in distress and the police end up killing the person. Seriously? Not only is that an egregious wrong, but why the h3ll did they call the police when they are the ones BEST suited to calm someone in distress if only they understood the concepts of safe haven and affect regulation according to attachment theory.

        So, no, my post wasn’t whining about comment moderation. It was about a call to MIA to realize that until they welcome people like me fully, this entire movement is missing one of the 3 legs it has to stand on. My wife is doing fine, in fact, better than fine from a disorder that most therapists won’t even touch. I’m no saint or hero: I just refused to quit. But a lot of people in my situation get scared or don’t know where to start and so they simply capitulate to the ‘authorities’ and until that stops and until someone helps them realize they hold the key to the healing of their loved one, this movement will continue to falter…imo.

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        • I think actually you might need more than those 3 components you mention. If there’s a fourth component, maybe it’s community. Some of us didn’t get into the mental health system, the public mental health system, of our own free will. We were abducted into that system.

          I’m not talking about the mental health community, at least not as an insular entity, either. I’m talking about community as a whole, outside community, the community that includes, if not embraces, the mental health community.

          There is a lot of prejudice out there, and people can’t be integrated into the community at large without a bit of understanding, and interplay, communication anyway, between that community and the more insular community of mental health treatment.

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        • This might be taking away from your point some, but I have to say that MIA is not “the movement.” It is a publication where issues of the movement are discussed, which is very helpful, but it is not a forum for activism. Right now, unfortunately, there isn’t much activism, but just a lot of talking.

          Myself, I would work with anyone who sincerely wants to end the abuses committed by the “mental health” system. But I think you can understand that those of us who have actually been victimized by that system have the most at stake in trying to end these abuses.

          Also, I was very excited by the article we are all trying to comment on, because it is an attempt to figure out what function these conferences should have, and what we should be trying to accomplish with them. I think it would be helpful we tried to focus our comments on that topic. The end of SAMHSA funding for the “Alternatives” conference gives us an opportunity, I think, for any new conference to be a lot more focused on actually how we can fight psychiatric abuses, instead of being funded by the abusers.

          We need to strategize about this topic, so can’t we talk about that?

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          • Ted,
            I guess I thought I was talking about the function of these conferences and opening them up to a segment of the stakeholders who has yet to be tapped. But after 9 years of being on the internet blogging and vainly trying to participate in various survivor communities, I see plenty of places for professionals to participate including here at MIA, and plenty of places for survivors to participate including her at MIA, but I have been unable to find any place for those who are supporting…unless you want to say that NAMI is viable.

            You may think that you have the ‘most at stake’, but I would disagree as I tried to point out in my original post. The professionals who stand against the tide and in so doing sabotage their own potential aspirations sacrifice a lot. And SO’s and family members lose all kinds of opportunities as well as the secondary trauma that they suffer.

            So until you and other abuse survivors stop minimizing the stake that the rest of us have in this movement, it only hurts the movement itself.

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        • I think the 4 components is a very good way to look at things.

          – To Samruck2, I agree that there is a a lot of untapped resources from family members and SOs. I think SOs have been made very frightened by the ‘narrative’ and what might happen to their loved one if they don’t listen to the professionals.
          I also think that because it is so hard and sometimes impossible to support a loved one at home given the lack of community support and the coercive nature of treatment – (I just finished reading the latest ‘Abduction’ story which tells the all too common story of how reaching for support can turn into terror) – cognitive dissonance kicks in and then family members and SOs feel the need to believe that the system is working and is the best route to go with their loved one.

          I guess though I heartily agree that so much more support for the MIA movement could come from a larger representation of caring SOs, I don’t think that the main reason why they are not here is because survivors are making people feeling unwelcome. I have never yet felt unwelcome here when I post as a family member. When I have asked questions about our situation I have found many survivors have been extremely helpful and have chimed in to offer advice based on their own experiences. (I also have read so many of your comments and found them very helpful in that they acknowledge how difficult it is to try and provide 24/7 support at home. My impression has been that your comments have been very well received by the community although of course I have only see bits and pieces of conversations.) Perhaps I am misinterpreting that you are blaming survivors for others feeling unwelcome, but I have noticed a theme lately on MIA that survivor responses are being cited as the main reason why MIA isn’t growing as quickly as it should (e.g. as the reason why some professionals don’t want to post here) and I do sometime feel that the few extremely negative comments made by a few people (and not necessarily survivors) overshadow the many supportive, or justly critical comments, and many thoughtful conversations that occur here on MIA.

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          • Hi Sa,
            thanks for your thoughtful reply. No, I’m not blaming the survivors except for the ones who have a chip on their shoulder and seem to feel it’s their right to be as ugly as they want when confronting various authors who come onto MIA and espouse things which (I agree) are NOT in keeping with the tenets of MIA.

            But the mantra “not about me without me” is somewhat misguided. It completely invalidates the real stake that SO’s and family members have. For the first 5 years my wife began her healing I was completely overwhelmed and felt like I was running a 24/7 trauma ER. We had panic attacks, flashbacks, littles hiding or jumping out of cars, nightmares and terrors and so much more I can’t begin to list it, and in the midst of all her chaos, I was drowning because my own needs were completely ignored and yet I still had to hold the family together and her together. It was complete chaos. But now on, mostly, the other side of things, I can look back and see that I and others like me have something to offer, IF this movement will listen and stop treating us like so many SO’s and family members who are part of the problem instead of the solution. We can teach those entering or still in the chaos how to make it thru, how to hold the marriage and family together and, maybe, even how to help the one in distress heal in a way that no therapist can do because we are in the trenches 24/7 and don’t get to draw boundaries about office hours and phones calls or emails and remuneration.

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  9. Look, it is great that this author is antipsychiatry. That is wonderful. But the following assertion is dubious:

    “This essentially means that we have to acknowledge that antipsychiatry is a part of a bigger social movement and therefore never lose the view on society as a whole. Because isn’t that exactly what we are criticizing?”

    Antipsychiatry is just that, antipsychiatry. It includes all those who favor liberty and oppose slavery (i.e. psychiatry). I sympathize with the author’s points, and I commend her opposition to psychiatry. But this sounds too much like Burstow’s attempts to make antipsychiatry about feminism, sexism, racism, etc. It’s not. It’s about abolishing psychiatry.

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  10. Uprising writes: “Psychiatry can be critiqued from just about any political perspective. You don’t seem shy about connecting anti-psychiatry with right-libertarianism, so don’t you think there’s a little bit of a double standard in what you are saying here?”

    I’ll side with communists, socialists, and progressivists in opposition to psychiatry, but I won’t pretend that antipsychiatry is therefore part and parcel of communism, socialism, or progressivism. It’s not. Psychiatry can be critiqued from just about any political perspective, but that doesn’t mean that all critiques or all political perspectives are equal. In fact, what if the battle against psychiatry from the left is ineffective and incoherent? Should we still adopt it? Again, by all means, oppose psychiatry from any angle possible, because to oppose psychiatry is to oppose slavery, and those who oppose psychiatric slavery do so, I’m guessing, because they favor liberty. I have my reservations about libertarianism as well, but there’s no need to get into that right now. The point is that we all oppose psychiatry. We are antipsychiatry. There’s no need to try to dilute antipsychiatry by trying to merge it with the endless causes of social justice warriors. That seems to be the point of everyone here: anyone who wants to oppose psychiatry is welcome.

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    • Ableism, the idea that some people are inherently more or less deserving of autonomy because their bodies or brains are inherently better or worse, is the foundational oppressive framework upholding all the other oppressions. Psychiatry isn’t misogyny and misogyny isn’t psychiatry, but they’re both ableism. They both operate under the assumption that female minds need to be “fixed” because they are inferior to male minds. The targeted categories we focus on may not be the same, but they will always be linked by ableism. That is the kind of intersectionality we need to recognize and practice.

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      • Daniel, we all need to “feel” like we are doing something good and contributing to our chosen cause, yet when you write “some people are inherently more or less deserving of autonomy because their bodies or brains are inherently better or worse,” are you manifesting, right here, a “split” in your own self-awareness, that reflects the “paradox” of human, so-called mental health?

        The body-mind split that is driving us all this madness, and why so-called “norm’s” will choose psychiatry’s “categories” over the challenge of embodied being. R.D. Laing wrote: We are all in a posthypnotic trance induced during infancy. While in reading your fine article and the “rational” responses I am reminded of Martin Heidegger’s comment about the nature of human ideals; “the interpretation of reality which idealism constructs is an empty one.”

        The “postured-pretense” of “knowing” in the human being is appalling and hence we go round and round in circles, avoiding our own reality, by way of “projection” and the phenomena of “transference – countertranference,” that creates the subject-object orientation of this sensation we label mind.

        But I do get the need to feel like there is an intelligence directing this need act-like we know what we are and what to do about it.

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    • Slaying the Dragon…

      You said above: “But the author of this post does not argue from a point of pure, lofty, objective neutrality.”

      This is an absurd statement. There is no such thing as arguing from “…a point of pure, lofty, objective neutrality.”

      Yes, there is one “objective reality” out there BUT there has never been, nor will there ever will be, such a thing as human “objective neutrality.” We all have biases, and some of those biases are a closer approximation of what is truly going on with regards to the the objective world out there.

      Yes, someone from the “Right” can be anti-psychiatry, BUT only up to a certain point. One CANNOT be “ALL THE WAY” anti-psychiatry if you do not understand how capitalism and the profit motive has been an ESSENTIAL FUEL to the meteoric growth of Biological Psychiatry over the past 4 decades.

      NOR can one be “ALL THE WAY” anti-psychiatry if they don’t understand how essential Psychiatry has become to the maintenance of a capitalist social order. OR if one does not understand the kind of movement (and forces necessary to make up that movement) that would be needed to truly end this barbaric “mental health” system that is led by the Psychiatric/Pharmaceutical/Industrial/Complex.

      AND finally your comment that “…when in reality every successful advancement in the cause of liberty has come directly from the right, and from God fearing individuals who defied the consensus….” could not be more OUT OF TOUCH with reality and a complete distortion of human history.

      AND don’t forget it was all those “God fearing individuals” from the “Bible Belt” who formed the KKK and turned that part of the country into an area that could have been more aptly called the “Lynching Belt.”


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      • Richard, with all due respect, you called my comment both true and absurd. Which is it? We all have biases, but not everyone is honest with themselves or with others about what those biases are. Sometimes it takes someone who is willing to point out that the emperor has no clothes, not just regarding psychiatry, but regarding political assumptions as well. You claim that conservative leaning people can be antipsychiatry only up to a point. I cordially disagree. Just because psychiatry thrives on deception and lust for filthy lucre doesn’t mean that Marxism is the answer. A brief tour of history reminds us that coercive psychiatry flourished in nations that embraced socialism, communism, and fascism, such as Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. Were these capitalist nations? No. The fact that psychiatry flourishes in modern America gives pause for reflection.

        I assure you that I am 100% antipsychiatry, and that the most thoughtful critics of psychiatry, Szasz included, have had a clear vision of the connection between psychiatry and the therapeutic state that is not in the least bit inimical to capitalism.

        As far as your objection to my assertion regarding advancements in the cause of liberty, in your reading of history, were MLK, jr., Churchill, Lincoln, and the Founders progressives? I am simply correcting the distortion of human history that results from indoctrination in revisionist history.

        As for your final comment, the logical fallacy there is Reductio ad Hitlerum.

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        • Slaying the Dragon…

          You said: “Richard, with all due respect, you called my comment both true and absurd. Which is it?”

          Perhaps you should reread my comment. There is a HUGE difference in saying that there is “one objective reality” and saying that a human being can obtain some type of “objective neutrality.”

          ALL human beings are biased in their interpretation of reality. It is YOU who has promoted the myth of some form of political “neutrality.”

          You said: “The fact that psychiatry flourishes in modern America gives pause for reflection.”

          The reality is that not only does Biological Psychiatry flourish in the United States, but it is this particular Capitalist/Imperialist empire that was its birthplace, AND also where it is currently headquartered, AND where it grows exponentially every year to be exported throughout the world.

          And finally, you said: “I assure you that I am 100% antipsychiatry, and that the most thoughtful critics of psychiatry, Szasz included, have had a clear vision of the connection between psychiatry and the therapeutic state that is not in the least bit inimical to capitalism.”

          As great as the contributions of Thomas Szasz have been to the anti-psychiatry movement, it was precisely his ideological and political blind spots when it comes to his worship of “free market” capitalism that seriously LIMITED his ability to link the movement against psychiatric abuse with the powerful anti-Imperialist movements in the 1960’s.

          Just think of where we might be today if such an important thinker like Szasz had forged some type of theoretical and political (anti-psychiatry) analysis with these historically significant political movements that shook the world at that time. These were Movements which he not only ignored, but denigrated. This was such a major historical opportunity that was truly missed.

          Fortunately, there were some separate survivor/mental patient liberation type organizations and struggles that clearly originated and grew out of the 1960’s movements that provide us with some valuable history lessons.

          And today, Szasz would clearly run into a major theoretical and political wall when trying to accurately analyze the role of Big Pharma and how the profit motive corrupts almost all of medical science while providing essential fuel to the growth of Biological Psychiatry.


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          • Richard, it appears as though we disagree about some things. 🙂 No problem. The truth that we share is greater: abolish psychiatry. I respect your opinions and your experience. I was merely trying to point out that sometimes MIA articles take for granted the notion that everyone is on board with the attempt to dilute antipsychiatry by combining it with any number of radical causes. That is unfortunate, but we can certainly work together to combat psychiatry. There are very many smart, reasonable people who disagree with your mischaracterization of the United States as a capitalist, imperialist empire (e.g. The Founding Fathers, Lincoln, etc.). Some people love the United States and are grateful for the freedoms that have come as a result of the sacrifices of those who preceded us.

            The point about Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany was simply that the United States has in many ways strayed from its roots, and it is at least a theory worth considering that in proportion to our country’s deviance from it’s democratic, republican origins, or the increase in socialist tendencies is in some way related to the bourgeoning of psychiatry. The notion that capitalism is to blame for psychiatry is tenuous at best. Is psychiatry corrupt and evil? Of course. Is psychiatry driven by the thirst for power, prestige, and pecuniary advantage? Of course. Does this mean that capitalism is to blame? Of course not.

            Concerning Szasz, he was right about many things, but I too take issue with many of his libertarian assumptions and his ideological commitments. Again, the truth that we share is greater than our differences: abolish psychiatry. Your point about Szasz is well taken however, because we need to understand why Szasz has not gained more traction and why the radical movements of the 60s have proven detrimental to freedom. Again, your point is well taken, and we can learn from the early survivor liberation groups as well. As you mentioned, these provide valuable history lessons. The question is, what did we learn? Why have those movements fallen short? Why don’t more people read Szasz?

            I don’t think that Szasz would have any problem condemning the corruption of Big Pharma or Big Medicine, just as he had no problem condemning the corruption of the Therapeutic State. But I see that we disagree, and that is fine. Good, reasonable people often disagree, and we can learn from each other. All the best.

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      • Richard, your ideology is blinding you just as much as it does the same to those on the right. And as much as I find it a little amusing watching each side take pot shots at each other over who has the ‘better’ arguments and the moralizing about the ‘terrible’ capitalists and the ‘lazy’ socialists, it’s really a disservice to this movement. There are strong and weak points on both sides of the political and philosophical divide, but I’m with Ted and hope we can be a little more pragmatic and work with each other even if we don’t have the same TOTAL foundational reason for doing so other than loving our fellow human beings.

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        • samruck2

          I would never suggest that one has to be “anti-capitalist” to become part of a movement against psychiatric abuse, or that it should now be the “dividing line” issue.

          I am mainly advocating the importance of linking our current human rights movement against psychiatric abuse with other important movements such as the environment, anti-fascist, anti-racist, women’s struggles etc. Where do you stand on this point?

          I am only pointing out that at some point in the future of this particular movement (and all the other important political movements) the serious problems with Libertarianism and other Right Wing world views (attempting to lead these struggles) will present itself as a major roadblock to the progress of our efforts to end ALL form of human oppression.


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          • Richard,

            of all the things I’ve sorted thru from my Christian upbringing, the one thing that I hold on to with absolute resolution is the Golden Rule and ‘greater love has no one than this: that he lay down his life for another.’ It’s why I do the things I do for my wife even though her inability to return some of the simplest things to me has caused me great heartache for nearly 29 years. I love her fully and without strings.

            On each and everyone of the issues you have listed, I can point out strengths and weaknesses from both ideological sides despite the Left trying to act as if they own the moral high ground. Applying the golden rule to each of these subjects requires me to support so much of what the movements mean, but to break with them when they veer off course, imo. I truly am sorry you seem unable to have the same clarity with the Left’s weaknesses as you definitely have for the Right’s! You are passionate about what you believe and I always find you try to be fair even with others whom you clearly disagree.

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        • Just for the record, I wasn’t taking any pot shots. The pragmatic thing to do is to combine forces against psychiatry as we do the hard work of figuring out which arguments are sound and will contribute to the cause of liberty in opposition to psychiatric slavery. Richard and many others advocate for linking antipsychiatry to other movements, and I understand the reasoning behind that position, even though it has failed in the past and will ultimately dilute the power of our position as antipsychiatrists. Richard believes that conservative viewpoints are a road block to the progress of antipsychiatry, when precisely the opposite is true. But whoever is in favor of liberty and reason will oppose psychiatry once the truth about psychiatry becomes common knowledge. In the mean time, we can all work together on the basis of the truth that we share that is greater than our differences: psychiatry is evil and must be abolished.

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          • The ‘pot shots’ comments was just more in general. I do agree with you that on this website it is nearly assumed that the Leftist ideology is the default and Richard passionately argues for that more than many, though I do feel he tries to be as fair as anyone can who believes the ‘other side’ is morally bankrupt as the current feeling is in the mainstream media and centers of higher ‘learning.’ But I actually ‘default’ to the right and then have to claw my way to the center in my attempts to be more balanced thanks to my wife’s issues causing me to, essentially, question everything I was taught growing up…

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    • Hi Slayering_the_Dragon_of_Psychiatry,

      just wanted to point out, that I read your comments. I strongly disagree with you. In fact, I am a lot in sympathy with Burstow’s work and think that she doing sth. which I missed in the movement a lot in recent years.

      As I don’t see any sense in arguing with you, I won’t. I rather focus on getting together and discussing with respect for each other.


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      • No problem. I strongly disagree with you as well, but the truth that we share is more important: abolish psychiatry. Burstow has done excellent work, and her books are among the best antipsychiatry books ever written. In the long run, the attempt to dilute antipsychiatry will prove detrimental, but I am happy to set that aside for now as we combine forces to combat the evil that is psychiatry. The political questions won’t go away, but certainly we can emphasize the truth that we share: psychiatry, like slavery, is evil and must be abolished.

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  11. I hope this discussion can get back to the topic of how we can have effective conferences that will lead to effective actions we can take to remove the power of psychiatry. I am not a very ideological person myself, and although I certainly think our cause should be linked with the causes of other oppressed groups, I will work with anyone who sincerely wants to work with us. I think it is a mistake to focus on the fine points of doctrine. We need to focus on how we really can accomplish something.

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  12. Yeah, although I am a democratic socialist myself, I am fine with working with people who are conservative or whatever. Szasz, for instance, was quite conservative in his general politics, but made a great contribution to our cause. Senator Grassley of Iowa is a very conservative Republican, but he has been very outspoken in his criticism of the abuse of psychiatric drugs. I see no reason to pick a fight with anyone who sincerely wants to work for this cause. Of course, I would not work with the neo-Nazis or the KKK, but they are not about to try to join us, to say the least. I do have a feeling, though, that once our movement regains the activism we used to have, a lot of this infighting will stop. It is hard to argue with someone when you are both in front of some abusive facility both helping each other to carry a banner that says Stop The Abuse of Psychiatric Inmates.

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  13. Psychiatric Drugs Disable people and make them Dangerous so I can see why conservative republican Senator Grassley would speak out against them.

    People often say of their diagnosed siblings that at one time they were the best performers in the family.

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    • One could say that the word unicorn is not important, but it means as much. Physical health is real, mental health, like mental illness, is a creature of fantasy. Fantasy, an anachronism, blood relative to religion, rather than science fiction, or futurism.

      So long as psychiatry is anti-people, anti-human-rights, anti-physical-health, and so forth, antipsychiatry, by contrast, is very much a positive thing. People who are saying, “I’m antipsychiatry”, are also saying, “I’m pro-people, pro-health, and pro-rights”. How can that be negative?

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  14. psychiatry will continue to be strong no matter what conference you attend…or what you do..
    but it will go down because it is not based on reality and what is true…lots of people are getting sicker…health has to be based on a different model that includes soc/psych/bio/econ/pol ….plus– the kitchen sink…

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  15. I find attending other people’s conferences much more interesting, as I get to ask stupid questions, then to find out the big experts don’t have a clue (for example pathogenesis of epilepsy, how the ketogenic diet works).

    On how to expose the cracks, I have got an idea. I have been, over the last 2 years, a specialist advisor to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in England, took part in 23/56 full inspections of the mental health organisations. The CQC has just published its findings. The key concerns were inadequate joined up care with primary and acute services, poor physical health care of psychiatric patients and polypharmacy in managing challenging behaviour by Learning Disability and Old Age sub-specialities, typically involving off-label prescribing of anti-psychotic and anti-epileptic drugs. The CQC also commented on the lack of shared decision making (‘co-production’) between patients, carers and clinicians on treatment and risks management. Perhaps this lack of co-production is consistent with increasing numbers of detentions under the Mental Health Act in England over the last 5 years.

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    • pdesilva,

      The question I suppose would be – If the NHS would be interested in successful long term alternatives (for the ‘big disorders) not based on a Medical Model.

      Would the NHS be prepared to drop “the Illness of Schizophrenia” and help people overcome “difficulties” through non drug means?

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      • Would the NHS look at successful alternatives – Yes, if there is sufficiently good evidence as determined by NICE.
        NHS drop the illness of schizophrenia/ Possibly if methods like open Dialogue is successful at the ongoing multicentre trial 9again via NICE)

        By the way, there is no such thing called schizophrenia, there appears to be at least ‘schizophreniform’ subtypes based on pathophysiology. More public knowledge about these will increase the effort by ordinary people to use non drug methods. Also a prize for the best effort will help.

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        • When I was in hospital after unsuccessfully attempting to stop medication, in 1983 in Ireland, a Psychologist there promised me that all clients without exception could make full recovery from whatever they suffered from without medication.

          Successful Non Drug Recovery exists – it can cost very little, and it can be evidenced.

          One group I attended in Ireland contained a Psychologist who attended for his own benefit and who chronicled Success or Full recovery from diagnoses like Schizophrenia and Bipolar as a result of Peer Group support.

          He produced a PhD on the Story of Peer Group Success. His name is Dr Mike Watts and the name of the Group is GROW.

          “…The research findings and stories have been published as a book entitled Narratives of Recovery from Mental Illness….”

          GROW is only one peer support group (- there are many other peer support groups with the same success rate).

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          • What these groups do is assist people with whatever they would like to be assisted with. They don’t relate to members on a “diagnoses” level. But people do Recover.

            There’s no such thing as pathological schizophrenia, and theres also no such thing as pathological schizoform sub type. There might be such a thing as “madness” – but this is not schizophrenia either.

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          • in the UK, we recommend Aripiprazole (5-10mg daily) as a means of coming off other antipsychotics, in order to beat the Dopamine receptor hypersensitivity problem (recently highlighted by Robin Murray in the Schizophrenia Bulletin (Mistakes I have made in my research career).

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          • On Schizophrenia, how do you explain the X 5 higher rate of Diabetes in first onset / drug naïve people with schizophrenia? Also note higher rate of Diabetes among first degree relatives. Both Diabetes (sp. Type 1) and Schizophrenia also have higher numbers of CAG repeats.

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          • Hi Fiachra, the link between untreated schizophrenia and Early or First Onset Psychosis and Diabetes is genuinely interesting, sorry it contradicts your world view.

            It was spotted initially by Kooy in 1014 (Brain), replicated by Mukherjee in 1989 (Lancet), further replicated by King in 2017 (Journal of Clinical Psychiatry). We suggested the common cause might be inefficient or low numbers of Glucose Transporters (GLUT) 1 & 3 in the brain. Lieberman and colleagues (our competition) suggests that the common problem might be intercellular signalling (an equally reasonable explanation). Tempting to think treatment might involve oral hypoglycaemic agents for both at an early stage Metformin has been ineffective, but of course, it does not have hypoglycaemic effects. As far as I know, the joint psychosis / hyperglycaemia cases haven’t been linked with longer CAG repeats.

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  16. I will freely admit that I have not read all the comments, as it looked like a small book unto itself. But I am sure, having read your post, that you stimulated a lot of intelligent discussion. Certainly some of the names that I saw would suggest that.

    I am going to instead make a comment in solidarity with you. I began to believe, a couple years ago, that MIA (and the conferences, most likely) was basically preaching to the choir and that no one, at least not in this movement, was actually getting anything real done in terms of changing things. I began to believe that if anything was really, really going to change, that we would have to go out on our own and do things independently. That is why I left for a while. And while I am not yet certain that anything is very different from that, I am now focusing my own articles and my own efforts on how to change things for real.

    I will be writing very soon about the actual cost of the “mental health” system, in the hopes that by taking people’s attention away from “efficacy” and instead focusing it on their bottom dollar as well as efficacy (“Why isn’t anything getting done when we’re paying this much?”) I might spread the conversation out beyond our own little group and maybe reach a wider public. That’s just one thing I’m doing. Public information is still a consideration. But I’m doing more than that.

    In addition, myself and a friend of mine are thinking of hosting a virtual conference in which we can begin to address the language of it all. As the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis states, the shape of your language is the shape of the world. In other words, the words you think in control how you think. And if we want to change things, we need to adopt a revolutionary new language which actually represents our own experience if we want it to ever be honestly represented and then to change how things are done.

    I hope to see you there. You are obviously a very brightly shining light, and I can only imagine that you will contribute much to our cause if you continue to be honest enough to make the kind of statement that you did. We don’t need cowards. We need mavericks. You might be one of them.

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    • Hi pdesilva,

      Theres a lot of Research around. But the only people I’ve known with a “diagnosis” that got diabetes were on Psychiatric drugs.

      The Consultant that treated me (years and years ago) was big on Research but he couldn’t tell the difference between the side effects of “medication” and genuine mental illness.

      It’s said that antidepressants can cause people to develop “bi polar”. I believe drug exposure and drug withdrawal syndromes, cause most of the longterm psychiatric expense.

      I suffered from withdrawal syndrome myself and my Recovery was dependent on learning how to survive with this.

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      • Hi pdesilva,

        I think there’s probably plenty of evidence around that people recover.

        I think that the NHS is caught in a bind – “They’d love to find solutions” – “but they can’t cope with the idea that the only solutions are through non medical approachs”

        (You probably know that there’s very little follow up of people that Recover – and that following up these people would be fairly easy).

        It must be difficult for you to operate as a clinician with all the control tactics, but you seem optimistic!

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        • I have some difficulty, but very minor compared to the overall job as an Old Age Psychiatrist. You are guided by ‘Primum non Nochare’ (firstly no harm); the last bit of the Hippocratic Oath, and sticking rigidly to the evidence base re treatments. I am a Cochrane collaborator, and use their library of systematic reviews a lot, when discussing options with patients and their carers.

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  17. Thanks Eric for touching on the usually unspoken of issue; waste in psychiatric practice.
    Recently the COBRA study (RCT involving 3 centres, 200 patients in each arm) found out that Behavioural Activation performed as well as face to face CBT in moderate depression, as well as being at least 30% cheaper, due to the cost of therapist time, less training costs. Furthermore, Community Treatment Orders didn’t show any cost reductions regarding readmissions, medication utilisation in another RCT (OCTET).
    Furthermore, we are aware that the effect size of CBT is dropping, despite improvement of therapist fidelity with the CBT process. So, the better the therapists get, the worse the outcome!. To be fair, this is exactly what was seen on effect sizes with SSRI’s, Atypical and now Clozapine. There is also the costs of DNA’s, drop outs, sickness absence of staff, duplication of IT systems (leading to snail mail) and justifiable complaints leading to financial compensation.

    Similar to you, I am also ‘going solo’ or ‘off grid’ and publishing independently. I think Critical Psychiatry needs to get more mainstream, involving grater recognition by the general public and generalist doctors (including primary care physicians, medical students). We need to promote true resilience, wellbeing and dare I say it, more spirituality about life involving repentance, mercy and looking out for others independent of monetary gain. Churchiology has failed to grasp this nettle, and subsequently become irrelevant in people’s eyes including people who are ‘poor in spirit’ (Jesus’s sermon on the mount)

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    • I am glad to see that someone beside this author and myself also recognizes that:

      1.) Raising awareness is a vital first step in the process of societal change.

      2.) That after raising awareness, we need to begin to push for actual change. It is not enough merely to speak out. We have to actually push for REAL change, and this does not mean attending conferences all the time or merely publishing our views. Those are vital, yes, in spreading the word; but they are not the end goal. The end goal is completely changing the system to a new one. We need to remember that.

      3.) That actual change takes place, whatever it takes to get there. I am not personally comfortable with allying ourselves with other transectional movements, because a) we will always be put last, when confronted with other, much bigger racial and/or sexual and or/gender movements, so we need to stand on our own, and b) because we are not actually concerned with anything that resembles the same issues. We are not concerned about the color of our skin, or the language we speak, or about what genitalia we possess or don’t possess. We are concerned about the content of our mental experience, and that means that we are not actually the same kind of movement as other transectional movements are. We are mental; they are physical. We are all social, but their form of social is not the same as ours. A black schizophrenic is still treated in the same outcast way by black society as he/she is by white society, here in America, which shows that it is not a problem of skin color but a problem of how others perceive and label our behavior and our mental experiences. We should not confuse the issue. A schizophrenic is dealing with a mentally based societal problem, which is social, but not what a black person or a woman or anyone else is dealing with, which is also social but not at all the same thing. And we should NOT ally ourselves with any groups that would take our support to help themselves and then ignore us when we need theirs. This is simple politics. Don’t waste your time on a fake ally. Work for your own cause. Don’t lose sight of what you want. And never forget what you are really about. And allying ourselves with others is one of the worst mistakes we could make. We would lose all our own time working for others, and get nothing ourselves. Let’s be sensible.

      Eric Coates

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      • If this is about “enlightened self-interest”, not interested. See the comment that immediately follows this one.

        Peerdom can be a hang-up, too, for which the solution, ‘getting over it’, could be missed as well. I’m not only ‘mad’, in other words, but I am also a human being, the primary instigator in this drama…and others.

        The cinder-block tied around an ankle in the patient/victim role can become dead weight (i.e. excess baggage) after a time.

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  18. “Schizophrenic” is slander.

    1. The argument for consciousness raising is an old one, and, of course, it is necessary to bring about social change.
    2. Political action is necessary for social change to occur.
    3. Psychiatry is about social control. Psychiatry is a tool the government uses to oppress people. Psychiatry doesn’t want people out of place, say, uppity women, rebellious blacks, vulnerable men, or powerful children. One can fight psychiatry as a psychiatrized individual, or as a psychiatrized social entity, or both.
    4. Opposing psychiatry is non-partisan. Rightist, leftist, moderate–our cause is not helped by tying it to political affiliation. Waiting for the revolution is kind of like waiting for a miracle to take place. The way to the revolution is to make it yourself. We have left-liberals playing the violence card (Mother Jones magazine) while the revolutions in Russia and China both have used psychiatry for their own ends, to suppress opposition to the government, and to persecute people for religious beliefs.
    5. Looking outside and beyond the mental health system is not a bad thing at all. We need to be educating the general public, too, not just singing to the choir. It is the general public, after all, who will help us deliver the coup de gras to mental health torture once and for all.

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  19. As a busy clinician in a very deprived area of North East England, I am daily made aware of easy it is to control psychiatry as a specialty, by various means including arbitrarily cutting funding, blackmailing us with potential ‘risk’ if we don’t do things like detaining people or prescribing ECT.

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