Rebranding Psychiatry


Or, how to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.


In November of 2017, the British Journal of Psychiatry published a guest editorial titled “Shrink rethink: rebranding psychiatry.” The authors are Scottish psychiatrists Jim Crabb, MD and Neil Masson, MD, and Lee Barber, an advertising and marketing strategist. Both Drs. Crabb and Masson practice general adult psychiatry and also lecture in psychiatry at the University of Glasgow. They are both members of the Scottish Teaching and Recruitment Group (STARG), which “looks at ways of improving recruitment into psychiatry.”

Lee Barber works for Valenstein & Fatt of London, and “has developed award-winning campaigns for brands such as Coca-Cola, Peugeot, Nintendo, and Virgin Media.”

The British Journal of Psychiatry is published monthly by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Here’s the editorial’s summary:

“Negative public attitudes towards psychiatry hinder individuals coming for treatment and prevent us from attracting and retaining the very brightest and best doctors. As psychiatrists we are skilled in using science to change the thoughts and behaviours of individuals, however, we lack the skills to engage entire populations. Expertise in this field is the preserve of branding, advertising and marketing professionals. Techniques from these fields can be used to rebrand psychiatry at a variety of levels from national recruitment drives to individual clinical interactions between psychiatrists and their patients.”

The summary conveys the gist of the article — that better marketing will bring more recruits into psychiatry, and bring more clients in for “treatment.”

But note the unabashed hubris: “…we are skilled in using science to change the thoughts and behaviours of individuals…” Also note the exhortation in the final sentence for psychiatrists to use marketing techniques in their clinical interactions with “patients” to promote psychiatry. Isn’t there some conflict here? Shouldn’t the clinical session be focused on the client’s needs? Surreptitiously injecting pro-psychiatry commercials into these sessions (for which, incidentally, the client or his/her insurance is paying) strikes me as ethically very questionable.


The authors open by lamenting the fact that “rates of recruitment into psychiatry have been critically low in recent years…” and promptly identify the root of the problem: poor marketing. They also identify the solution: learn from the experts.

“Almost every choice we make throughout the day, right down to the brand of laptop the reader might be viewing this article on, as well as the coffee they are sipping has been overtly or covertly influenced by professionals working in these fields. If we have not recognised this influence, then it merely serves to highlight the skill and effectiveness of those involved. Furthermore, as psychiatrists we take great pride in changing the thought patterns and behaviours of the patients we serve on an individual basis. Why would we not wish to learn and adopt techniques from fields that have expertise at doing this on a population level?”

Clearly the closing question in this quote is rhetorical, but if I might offer an answer, it would be: because marketing of the kind being envisioned here is essentially dishonest and exploitative. “Things go better with Coca-Cola” may be a great marketing jingle when gauged by the number of cans of flavored sugar-water sold, but it is not true.  People who consume even relatively modest quantities of soda pop daily are more likely to develop type II diabetes, heart disease, and gout than people who consume soda pop rarely or never.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Some of the world’s biggest companies from Coca-Cola to Apple have for decades been using a range of techniques to help them build brands that are loved and cherished by consumers. We need to apply the very same thinking to the challenges we face.”

The essence of modern marketing is to create anxiety in the “targets.” The anxiety is delivered in carefully sculpted messages, like: your kitchen is old and drab; your car lacks style; your hair is too grey; your skin is too dry; etc., etc. The marketer then delivers the great lie: buy our product and, not only will your problems go away, you’ll get a stylish car, a great lifestyle, and an enchanting partner to boot. Of course it’s not true, and a great many people in our culture spend their entire lives on this purchasing treadmill, futilely chasing the promises implied in the glossy ads.

If there is any ethical role for a helping profession in this area, it is, I suggest, to offer training to people of all ages in how to resist this kind of tawdry huckstering, not to use it to promote their own agenda. But psychiatry has never been big on ethics.


“Developing a coherent brand that potential recruits can identify with might appear challenging. There are positive associations about psychiatry, however, even these can seem wildly disparate and contradictory, how can reassuringly scientific activities such as reading brain scans and intriguingly creative pursuits such as interpreting dreams possibly fall within the same specialty? However, we would argue that we should embrace these differences and incorporate them within our brand. We need to be clear that we are interested in the small number of doctors who can embrace the fields of science and the arts and also be confident enough to handle uncertainty and ambiguity. This of course does not appeal to the medical masses, however, it can also be a selling point. Niche brands such as Marmite have famously maximized their market share through making a virtue out of proudly advertising that they are not for everyone.”

There are several noteworthy points here, but the most critical is the clearly implied notion that there is nothing actually wrong with psychiatry; it just needs to be sold better. In reality, there is a great deal wrong with psychiatry.

1. Psychiatry’s definition of a mental disorder/mental illness embraces virtually every significant problem of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving, and psychiatry has been fraudulently using this definition to medicalize problems that are not medical in nature for more than a century, and particularly for the past four or five decades.

2.  Psychiatry routinely and deceptively presents these labels as the causes of the specific problems, when in fact they are merely labels with no explanatory significance.

3.  Psychiatry has routinely deceived, and continues to deceive, their clients, the public, the media, and government agencies, that these vaguely defined problems are in fact illnesses with known neural pathology, when in fact they are nothing of the kind.

4.  Psychiatry has blatantly promoted drugs as corrective measures for these so-called illnesses, when in fact it is well-known in pharmacological and psychiatric circles that no psychiatric drug corrects any neural pathology. In fact, the opposite is the case. All psychiatric drugs exert their effect by distorting or suppressing normal functioning.

5.  Psychiatry has actively and profitably conspired with the pharmaceutical industry in the creation of a vast body of fraudulent research, all designed to “prove” the efficacy and safety of pharma products.

6.  A great many psychiatrists have shamelessly accepted pharma money for very questionable activities. These activities include the widespread presentation of infomercials in the guise of CEUs; the ghost-writing of books and papers which were actually written by pharma employees; the acceptance of payment from pharma to act as so-called thought leaders in the promotion of new drugs and diagnoses; acceptance of fraudulent advertising in peer-reviewed journals; targeting of captive and vulnerable audiences in nursing homes, group homes, and foster-care systems for prescription of psychiatric drugs; etc., etc…

7.  Psychiatry’s spurious diagnoses are inherently disempowering. To tell a person, who in fact has no biological pathology, that he has an incurable illness for which he must take psychiatric drugs for life is an intrinsically disempowering act which falsely robs people of hope, and encourages them to settle for a life of drug-induced dependency and mediocrity.

8.  Psychiatry’s “treatments,” whatever transient feelings of well-being or docility they may induce, are always destructive and damaging in the long-term, and are frequently administered involuntarily.

9.  Psychiatry has failed to initiate a definitive study to explore the link between psychiatric drugs and the murder/suicides, despite a growing volume of prima facie evidence that such a link exists.

10.  Psychiatry’s spurious and self-serving medicalization of every significant problem of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving, effectively undermines human resilience, and fosters a culture of powerlessness, uncertainty, and dependence. Relabeling as illnesses problems which previous generations accepted as matters to be addressed and worked on, and harnessing billions of pharma dollars to promote this false message, is morally repugnant.

11.  Psychiatry neither recognizes nor accepts any limits on its expansionist agenda. In recent years, they have even stooped to giving neuroleptic drugs to young children.

But in what I would describe as fairly typical psychiatric fashion, the authors ignore these very real problems, and dive headlong into the business of building a better brand.

And note the arrogance: “This of course does not appeal to the medical masses…,” by which presumably the authors mean nephrologists, cardiologists, oncologists, gastroenterologists, primary care doctors, pulmonologists, etc., all of whom treat real diseases, none of whom seem to have any problem attracting recruits or customers, and none of whom have their very own anti movement.


“How we conduct ourselves in communicating our brand is a critically important starting point. We know that psychiatrists are victims of stigma, and having internalized this we may be part of the problem. Nothing sells like confidence. We need to inject confidence about what psychiatry is and does in everything we do.

We also know that we do not need to appeal to each and every medical undergraduate. We only need to increase our recruitment from 4 to 8% of medical graduates for all training places in the UK to be filled.”

Note the self-exculpating assertion that psychiatrists “are victims of stigma.”  In reality, psychiatrists are the great stigmatizers of our time.  They routinely tell their clients that they have broken brains, and broadcast this stigmatizing message to the general public at every opportunity. If, as a group, they lack confidence, they keep this well hidden. Arrogance, I suggest, is far more characteristic of this profession than diffidence or timidity.

But the authors, heads buried firmly in sand, have identified a lack of confidence as part of the problem, and offer the following suggestions for remediation.

“…build a strategy around being selective.”
“…be proudly elitist.”
develop “an air of exclusivity…”
“…advertise the fact that we need the brightest and best doctors to enter psychiatry.”

In support of this approach, the authors assert:

“Telling people they cannot have something makes them want it more.”

So telling medical students that they can’t get into psychiatry will dispel their very real misgivings concerning this profession, and have them hammering at the gates. This seems very condescending. I wonder how medical students feel about the notion that they are such gullible marks.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

And it gets worse!

“The challenges involved in the job are vast (you know this), and a large number of doctors simply do not possess the mental agility to jump from biological to psychological to social paradigms within a single consultation. We should be telling students that we need the most special of them to come into our profession so that we can help develop them into a rare and exciting breed of doctor.”

The reality is that psychiatrists exercise a very limited range of highly dubious skills.  These are:  comparing the customer’s self-reports with arbitrary and hopelessly vague checklists to come up with something that can be passed off as a diagnosis; lying to the customers that they have chemical imbalances; pushing drugs to correct these non-existent imbalances; and delivering high-voltage electric shocks to the brain.

The assertion that large numbers of doctors lack the mental agility to become psychiatrists betrays, once again, an extraordinary level of arrogance, condescension and even narcissism.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“We should celebrate the phenomenal progress that has been made to date in understanding the mind, however, at the same time we should be clear that the frustrating limits of our knowledge is another thing that makes psychiatry uniquely attractive, that we are a discipline for pioneers and explorers.”

Psychiatry, I suggest, has done absolutely nothing to further our understanding of human thinking and emotion. Dogmatic assertions and labels do not constitute understanding, particularly when the assertions are spurious, and the labels have no ontological validity.

The “frustrating limits” of psychiatric knowledge is an oblique reference to the fact that despite fifty years of lavishly-funded research, psychiatry has failed to produce a valid biological pathology basis for even a single one of their so-called diagnoses.  But in the best tradition of deceptive marketing, they attempt to convert this obvious liability into an asset, by describing themselves as pioneers and explorers.

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At this point the authors lose contact with terra firma — literally:

“Dare we communicate that neurology might be considered like understanding the electrical wiring to a light bulb in your house, whereas psychiatry in comparison is like building and flying a rocket to rescue a soul lost in the uncharted reaches of outer space?”

Neurology, which studies the interactions of the brain’s 86 billion neurons, is to be compared to the wiring to a light bulb, which comprises two copper wires!

And the rocket ship analogy? Well. What can I say? Houston, we have a problem?

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“Such a ‘competitive’ approach between disciplines may seem initially unpalatable…”

Yes. Unpalatable, narcissistic, self-aggrandizing, and even bizarre. I don’t think neurologists will be thrilled with the light bulb comparison, and I don’t think many psychiatrists would recognize themselves as rocket engineers or pilots. But the authors defend their approach on the grounds that it

“…allows us to embrace our rich and controversial heritage, and use this as a means of engagement rather than something to be nervously skirted around.”

In this context, the authors mention Ken Kesey’s One Few Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but in fact, psychiatry’s “rich and controversial heritage” goes back much further than that. Psychiatry’s “rich and controversial heritage” includes lobotomies, insulin comas, rotational chairs, enforced immobility, fever therapy, mesmerism, malaria therapy, gynecological surgery, hydrotherapy, the crib, the tranquilizing chair, chemically and electrically induced seizures, etc., etc.

If the authors are suggesting that potential psychiatry recruits embrace this “controversial heritage,” or are even suggesting that this heritage could be remotely described as “rich,” then I suggest they have entirely lost contact with reality. Psychiatry’s history is one of unmitigated destruction, stigmatization, disempowerment, and frequently, torture. It is indeed not something to be nervously skirted around, but rather something to be condemned in a forthright and unequivocal manner. It also needs to be pointed out that a great many of these torturous “treatments” stemmed directly from the spurious notion that the problems involved were medical in nature, and therefore required medical (i.e., physical) treatments.


The authors tell us that there will be no multi-million pound ad campaign, which, of course, is a considerable mercy.  Rather, the ad campaign, the brand, has to be promoted by every psychiatrist.

“We need every person involved in the profession to live and breathe our brand and bring it to life every day and every time they come in contact with colleagues and students.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

So what, exactly, should psychiatrists be doing? The authors encourage psychiatrists to engage in the following eight practices:

“(a) Be unashamedly confident and proudly elitist when talking about psychiatry. Psychiatry is not, and should not be, for every doctor. Most doctors cannot handle the challenges, complexities, contradictions and uncertainties of the discipline. As a practicing psychiatrist you can, so walk tall. Carry this into each and every interaction with students and with your medical colleagues from other disciplines.”

In other words: in your interactions with students and real doctors, be a pompous ass.

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“(b) Have a ready explanation prepared for when someone asks what a psychiatrist is, and does. If you are not comfortable with our suggested mantra (see below), develop your own based on the brand architecture model.”

We rescue people who are lost in space! Whether they want to be rescued or not.

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“(c) Celebrate the achievements of psychiatry. Know of three psychiatrists whose work you admire and who have been influential and a force for good on a global scale. Tell others about them. (If you are stuck, shame on you, go Wikipedia Carl Jung, Karl Friston, Kenneth Kendler and Eric Kandel.)”

What about Sir Simon Wessely, MD, proud founder of the Anti Bash campaign; or Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, who forthrightly denounced anti-psychiatry activists as “rabid ideologues.” Or Charles Nemeroff, MD and Alan Schatzberg, MD, whose 1999 textbook Recognition and Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders: A Psychopharmacology Handbook for Primary Care was written by a pharmaceutical industry ghostwriter. Or Joseph Biederman, MD, the great American psychiatrist who invented childhood bipolar disorder. Or the illustrious psychiatrist Ronald Pies, MD, who insists that psychiatry never promoted the chemical imbalance theory of depression. Or Allen Frances, MD, architect of DSM-IV, who with two colleagues wrote to Janssen Pharmaceutica that they were “committed to helping Janssen succeed in its effort to increase its market share and visibility in the payor, provider, and consumer communities.” Or Walter Jackson Freeman, MD, who traveled the US, visiting mental institutions and performing lobotomies. Or the eminent British psychiatrist William Sargant, MD, “…who is remembered for the evangelical zeal with which he promoted treatments such as psychosurgery, deep sleep treatment, electroconvulsive therapy and insulin shock therapy.” (Wikipedia)

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“(d) Think about and prepare answers for questions on our rich and controversial heritage: Bedlam, lobotomies, electroconvulsive therapy, LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), anti-psychiatry, etc (you will be asked at the next dinner party you go to anyway). Be able to explain that the psychiatrist’s role as a pioneer who searched out new ways to alleviate the suffering of those they serve was not, and still is not, without risk.”

My humble suggestion: Bedlam enabled us to keep the victims of poverty and abuse off the streets while providing inexpensive and much needed entertainment for the hard-pressed working masses. A win-win psychiatric breakthrough.

And note the self-exculpatory theme in the final sentence: pioneers always incur risk. In psychiatry, however, the risk always falls on the hapless “patient,” who, in a great many cases, hasn’t even been informed of the risks.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“(e) Know of at least three celebrities who have had a positive experience of mental healthcare that you can tell others about (the British Royal Family have recently given you a head start).”

Pronouncements from celebrities, of course, as everyone knows, are always true.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“(f) Think about and be prepared to tell others about cultural mega trends that link into psychiatry and that illustrate that we are the specialty of the moment, for the moment. Have at least two to hand (dementia, mindfulness, etc.)”

So dementia is a cultural mega trend?  What does this even mean?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“(g) Survey your local core trainees to identify the most engaging and charismatic teachers in each hospital. Incentivise these teachers to have as much exposure to medical undergraduates as early in the preclinical curriculum as possible.”

“(h) Communicate the key messages about ‘brand psychiatry’ to medical students as early as possible in the undergraduate years. These messages should be emphasised at the start and end of every psychiatry block (to utilise the primacy and recency effect.)”

And the key messages of “brand psychiatry” as presented in the editorial are: We are the elite among physicians; other physicians are not capable of doing what we do; we must embrace the diversity of perspectives within psychiatry; we must embrace our “rich and controversial history.”


Here’s the finale, and I swear, I’m not making this up:

“Fundamentally, we all are ‘brand psychiatry’ and this should be our mantra:

‘Psychiatrists are doctors who feel with their mind and think with their soul. They are just as comfortable with poetry as pathology. They see the person as whole. Psychiatrists understand the connection between the mind, the body and the soul. They are doctors who want to make a radical and transformational difference to the whole life of their patients. Psychiatrists are people who have the rare ability to treat the person, not the problem. Psychiatrists save lives.'”

To which, all I can say is that this is not the psychiatry that I’ve been seeing for the past fifty years. Here’s my mantra: Psychiatry Kills!


The Royal College of Psychiatrists published the Crabb et al paper as an editorial in their flagship publication, the British Journal of Psychiatry. Whilst this does not imply complete endorsement of the contents, it does suggest that the College felt that the material was worthy of sufficient consideration to warrant dissemination in their journal. It is noteworthy that Sir Simon Wessely, MD, past President of the Royal College, “liked” the article on Twitter. It should also be pointed out that Kamaldeep Bhui, MD, present editor of the BJP, in the same issue, described the paper as “a bold editorial on branding psychiatry.” Dr. Bhui continued:

“Apart from presenting a progressive and enriching account of the achievements of psychiatric practice through the expert eyes of a branding company, there are some enticing one-liners with which to impress your friends, family, social and professional networks: psychiatrists wish to think and act differently; and the profession is of the moment for the moment.”

We can only guess, of course, how listeners might react to these “enticing one-liners,” but it would, I suggest, be a kindness if someone close to Dr. Bhui were to take him quietly aside, and point out that statements such as these will not enhance his reputation for cogency, articulateness, insight, or wisdom.

The central themes of the paper are that psychiatry can be sold to potential recruits and customers using the same tawdry methods found in ad campaigns for soft drinks, hair shampoo, video games, and breakfast cereal; and that every psychiatrist needs to embrace this perspective wholeheartedly.

What’s glaringly missing from the paper is the recognition that real medical specialties have no need for such vaunting self-promotion, because: their basic concepts are valid, their methods are salutary, and they routinely maintain a high level of critical self-scrutiny. Psychiatry, by contrast, is fundamentally flawed and rotten — a wrong turning in human history — which no amount of whitewash or fatuous window-dressing can retrieve. Encouraging psychiatrists to become cheerleaders to this pernicious hoax needs to be seen for what it is: a desperate, though futile, attempt on the part of a dying profession to forestall its inevitable fate.

Psychiatry cannot be fixed. It simply needs to go.


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. The only good psychiatrists were the ones who got the heck out of the profession and business when the drugs pushed their way onto the scene. I know of one who did this in the city where I live. He stated that he’d rather retire than become a pill pusher and a shill for the drug companies, and he was quite young to be retiring. I state this knowing that some would say that he retired because he was old enough and had nothing to lose. He lost quite a lot but he retained his dignity, honesty, truthfulness, sense of morals and ethics, and his ability to truly heal people. He did nothing but talk therapy.

    If psychiatrists disappeared overnight what would be the effect that we would observe in the world? The field of medicine (which is tainted itself these days because of the dependence on the drug companies and on people wanting to make lots of money) would continue on as usual.

    I’ve never, ever had a great love of doctors period, no matter what their specialty. The arrogance of so many of them turned me against the profession. Doctors must prove their worthiness to me before I allow them to do anything to or for me. I’ve come to believe that if there is a hell there will be a special place there for psychiatrists. The longer I work as a peer in the state “hospital” where I was once held the more contempt I have for psychiatrists. Even the ones who admit to everything that you’ve written here will not grow a backbone, stand up, and speak out. I deal with a number of psychiatrists like this every day. They know that the toxic drugs that they force on people cause great harm and aren’t a cure for any “disease”, but they shrug and say, “Oh, what can I do………” I suspect that they don’t want to affect their bank accounts and their ability to live in gated communities and to send their kids to private schools where their children won’t have to rub shoulders with the riff raff. I am disgusted with all of them.

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  2. Thank you Philip for providing me with such a laugh. I had seen the abstract and was struck by the admission that they are trying to change thoughts and behaviour, rather than curing or even treating diseases, but I hadn’t got around to going down to the library to read the whole thing. Presumably that 4 per cent of medical graduates include those who don’t cut the mustard in other disciplines or want an easy ride to a consultancy. I wonder if there are many people who actually start out wanting to be psychiatrists?

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      • Have you, Dr Hickey, submitted this to any University Magazines? Perhaps to those with the largest medical schools? I suggest this might be better for the education of medical undergraduates than anything the RCP or any other psychiatric establishment might circulate, and might have the added advantage of further starving this appalling `professional’ body.
        I’m particularly concerned that these, the leaders of their `profession’, want to indoctrinate their patients rather than helping them improve their lives. To indoctrinate them and send them out with SLOGANS shows a total lack of respect for those they are tasked with helping is outrageous. I thought psychiatry had already reached the bottom of the swamp, I was wrong.

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      • There was a highly romanticized psychiatrist in Longmeyer (Longmeyer wanted to romance her!) one season. She tearfully explained to him that veterans needed her to prescribe “medicines” rather than get them illegally. Without her to conduct the hours–even days–of painstaking research and lab tests to determine the precise nature of mental illness each suffered from and the exact amount of meds required to restore proper brain chemistry anything could happen.

        I laughed so hard I almost wet my pants! 😀

        Honestly, I think the writers were dumb enough to believe what they wrote too.

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  3. Terrific article, and within it, excellent points, those 1 through 11 you bring up.

    Two hundred years of pioneering and exploring, and these guys are still just on the verge of making those fabulous discoveries they’ve always dreamed about. Two hundred years…Anybody ever consider the possibility that they could be just plain lost?

    This “re-branding” sounds much like the PR facelift that psychiatry conducted, and somewhat successfully, after the 1970s. I don’t see any powerful advertising campaigns developing without money, that is the problem with this, if they have resources. Advertising may more than pay for itself, but the money for it has to come from somewhere.

    In a related matter, NPR reports has made complicit The Word OF The Year In 2017. I don’t think psychiatry would be anywhere without a lot complicity on the part of other disciplines engaged in the so-called “helping” professions.

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  4. Fabulously powerful article. It really does raise and address most of the glaring shortcomings of psychiatry. Love the 11 points, and I too laughed at the crumbling, nonsensical, now openly snake-oiled facade the “profession” has become.

    Debunking psychiatry is essential because of the danger it is to society, and this article is great at doing that. Psychiatry’s reversion to marketing, and marketing of the type suggested, what’s more, really does hold its scientific and medical shortcomings out for all to see.

    The ones I have met are arrogance personified, coupled with a big slug of abusiveness and dishonesty.

    They are not providing medical services and they know it… the campaign seems to admit as much!

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  5. Wonderful Dr. Hickey. Thank you. This is one of the best articles ever written for Mad in America. In fact, if it weren’t for Dr. Hickey, Mad in America would be in serious trouble. Keep up the great work. I know that you will deflect the praise in a self-effacing way, but in reality I am praising God for people like you who see psychiatry for what it is.

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  6. Philip:

    I enjoyed reading and learned from this article, as I have from many of your articles. I appreciate your thought-provoking, well-researched, pull-no-punches, and at times humorous style. My reading of articles such as yours helped me realize that there was a place where people who thought like me were connecting and trying to do something about the lies and harms of biological psychiatry. This motivated me to get involved by contributing articles myself. I don’t know if you read my latest one “How Psychiatry Evolved into a Religion”, but as I said in it, I believe the public is starting to hear our ideas, and that we are the “tenth plague” that will ultimately free Americans from psychiatry’s malignant rule.


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    • Lawrence,

      I did indeed read How Psychiatry Evolved into a Religion. It’s a beautiful piece, and the historical analysis is 100% accurate. I’ve read several posts that you’ve put up on MIA, and I’m extremely gratified that we have someone of your skill, experience, and forthrightness on our side.

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  7. my psychiatrist helps me….I have seen him for 19 years..and a psychiatrist I had a long time ago actually helped me understand how a good psychiatrist can save a life….that psychiatrist saved
    my life….so I have a problem with extreme anti-psychiatry…and I do see the dangers of psychiatry today….and I see the dangers of general medicine and its treatment of chronic diseases..

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  8. A lovely account. But one glaring omission: psychiatry has ridden the coat tails of the most successful public relations-branding campaign of the modern era: PhARMA spends more on promotions than on research, convincing modern civilization to apply the bio-bio-bio model to all aspects of life – all to get us to buy pills and see psychiatrists. It’s beyond insane that psychiatry could blame insufficient marketing for its troubles. If anything, Pepsi, cosmetics, car sales and politics are pikers compared to PhARMA and psychiatry’s marketing.

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    • Big tobacco was just forced to admit in court-ordered ads that cigarettes are addictive and kill people at a rate of something to the tune of 1,200 bodies a day. It’s obviously not enough that they’ve weathered some of the most costly civil suits and settlements in history. I would hope that there could come a time when big PhARMA was forced to do something similar. We get with each drug ad a numbing series of negative effects that they are hoping potential customer/”consumers” will be able to brush off, but little on the mortality rate, and no admission of guilt. This ‘lack of insight’ on the drug companies part has to change even if legislation is required to make it change.

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  9. “Also note the exhortation in the final sentence for psychiatrists to use marketing techniques in their clinical interactions with ‘patients’ to promote psychiatry. Isn’t there some conflict here? Shouldn’t the clinical session be focused on the client’s needs?” LOL, it never is.

    “And the rocket ship analogy? Well. What can I say? Houston, we have a problem?” LOL

    “In other words: in your interactions with students and real doctors, be a pompous ass.” LOL

    “Psychiatrists are people who have the rare ability to treat the person, not the problem.” The word “person” should be corrected to say “disorder,” the “persons” are “irrelevant to reality” to the psychiatrists, due to their hubris and overly pompous “delusions of grandeur.”

    But I agree with you, “Psychiatry Kills!” “Psychiatry … is fundamentally flawed and rotten — a wrong turning in human history — which no amount of whitewash or fatuous window-dressing can retrieve. Encouraging psychiatrists to become cheerleaders to this pernicious hoax needs to be seen for what it is: a desperate, though futile, attempt on the part of a dying profession to forestall its inevitable fate. Psychiatry cannot be fixed. It simply needs to go.”

    Thanks for the many laughs, and the honest truth, Philip. Have you written a book yet? I love your posts, you should write a book. When something is so grotesquely disgusting and wrong, like psychiatry, that it’s literally initially incomprehensible for a sane person to believe such evil exists, humor can help make people understand it more easily. And we need the masses to see the truth about psychiatry. You’re a gem when it comes to humorously pointing out the, initially incomprehensible, evil of psychiatry. Thanks as always.

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      • Dr. Hickey – I agree that psychiatry does kill, having lost a family member to Zyprexa (profound hyperglycemia). And if/when the SSRI/SNRI connection to suicides and mass homicides is ultimately made (shushed up now by the media) it may well be the death knell to the” profession”.
        On another point, the whole “rocket” and “outer space” theme of this pathetic marketing ploy is a terrible insult to astromers, astro physicists and the like – real scientists as opposed to these bogus pill pushers.

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  10. One thing I think you missed, Phil. Psychiatry is now claiming meditation/mindfulness as a psychiatric intervention???? Really?

    I would think the answer to your product being disliked is not better advertising. It’s making a better product! One can hardly claim that psychiatry suffers from lack of awareness – in fact, those who lack awareness of psychiatry are more likely to think they’re going to get something valuable out of the experience! Almost all critiques of psychiatry come from people who are very well aware of exactly what it represents. You can con people into coming into your restaurant, but when the food sucks and sometimes kills people and the door is closed and locked behind you so you can’t escape and they force the crappy food down your throat, your restaurant is going to get some bad reviews, no matter how well you “brand” your food.

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  11. If psychiatry’s end game is to hype its abuse #fakescience as a “privileged risk and controversy”, then, yes, it really DOES need to go. Mad people aren’t a quack’s ladder to the elite. We won’t bear ANY costs of a quack’s “risks”. And psychiatric torture is unquestionably and totally EVIL. To psychiatry, I say NO, NO, NO!

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  12. ok…you do away with psychiatrists…you do away with psychiatric hospitals…you do away with the DSM….you do away with all prescribed psych drugs…..what are you suggesting for the care of all the persons with mental health problems…who will work at this…and how will they be paid…

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    • littleturtle, there are countless humane alternatives to psychiatry, hundreds to consider offered in the archives of this website. first of all we can participate in local efforts that make our communities more just and kind and less violent and mean.

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    • I’m suggesting REAL plans and REAL resources – honest information about the MANY limitations and risks of lamestream psychiatry; support for education, employment, and housing; public acceptance of extreme states. Psychiatry is costly and wasteful, no less than it is useless and lethal. Money AND lives would be saved with MUCH less of it or, perhaps, none of it at all.

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    • Littleturtle

      I know that you’ve heard of Soteria House, Diabasis House and I-Ward. People can be treated without having to be locked up in warehouses mistakenly called “hospitals” and being forced to ingest drugs that are harmful to humans over long use. The problem is that dealing with peoples’ issues in the way that respite houses deal with people is time consuming and labor intensive. And I don’t know many psychiatrists who want to get down in the trenches and really get their hands dirty. Really having to deal with peoples’ issues one on one stirs up too much of their own stuff so they’re not about to do any intensive work with people. They would rather write out the prescriptions on their little script pads and do drug maintenance checks lasting fifteen minutes.

      One of the great problems with doing away with the present system is that we will have a very large group of people who do not have the slightest idea of how to take care of themselves. This is why we have to go about this with lots of planning and forethought. We can begin by setting up a different way of treating people when they have their first experience of alternate realties. I suspect we will have to have two different systems running at the same time until all of the people in the old system have made their way out of it, with lots of intensive help. This is going to be a major undertaking which is why so few people really want to do it. But it must be done to save peoples’ lives.

      The system teaches learned helplessness and tells people that they can’t make decisions on their own but must allow the “professionals” to make such decisions for them. It is truly disgusting to see what the system has done and is continuing to do to people, all in the name of “good treatment” and “evidence based treatment”. We need to be walking with people in ways that teach them how to become responsible for their own lives, being able to make their own decisions. And we need to quit telling them that they have broken brains and that they’re ill for life and must depend on the system for whatever little they do get out of life. So many people come into this damned system as children and are then fed this constant diet of lies and misinformation and are taught to not trust their own selves in making any decisions.

      People who come here to MIA are the successful ones who’ve escaped the clutches of the system, or are in the process of escaping. But I walk among and sit with 230 individuals each and every day, most of whom have not the slightest idea of how to embrace recovery and how to be responsible for themselves. Most of these people have never even worked before. When I think about how we’re going to pull down this atrocious system I know that it’s going to take lots of work to integrate my 230 people into the world outside the walls that hold them. They can’t be abandoned and sent on their merry way. The system did this to them and the system will have to work to integrate them so that they can live fulfilled lives.

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    • Littleturtle, many here want to ban COERCIVE psychiatry. If you find psychiatry helpful and seek it out freely that would be voluntary, not coercive. There are enough like you that even if we outlawed psychiatry by force it still would not be the end of the profession.

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      • And many of us want to end psychiatry entirely as fraudulent, destructive and based on unsound principles. The very existence of psychiatry causes even those currently uninvolved with it to view the world, and each other, from a pseudo-medical framework.

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        • From, “The devil made me buy this dress!” to “My bipolar mania made me buy this dress!”

          Btw, Ms. Bipolar Burble loves to talk about her fits of rage and hatred of people, then excuse it. “It’s just my Bipolar acting up.” Easier than saying, “Sorry. I was wrong.” Many people in the system use their diagnosis as an excuse. I plead guilty to it myself; chalk it up in part to my “good insight.”

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    • Littleturtle, you have a valid point. Even if we abolished psychiatry in its current form–only locking up the violent–with maybe rest homes for the truly out of it. Say 0.5% of the population instead of 25%. Anyhow, people have already been permanently damaged after decades in the system. I doubt I can ever be gainfully employed now. Physically worn down and in pain, like I exchanged craziness for fibromyalgia.

      The victims of psychiatry may always need help. Even if it’s just financial assistance.

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  13. in rebranding psychiatry it seems that the medical model has to go….in the process of doing that I hope that we don’t throw out the biological piece …..I like the bio/psych/soc model of looking for ways to treat the awful suffering that we go through…whatever works for each one of us…and if someone likes the medical model what is the big problem….do we have to squelch every last vestige of all the problems brought on by big power and big $$$$$$$$$$$…we need to go after the truth no matter where we find it….from the littleturtle

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    • Exactly. People should have the choice of what they want done to them. But as it is we have a cookie cutter, one-size fits all “treatment” that is harming thousands of people that are forced to take it. I support anyone who wants to take the pills if that’s what they think truly helps them with their life issues. However, I don’t want anyone telling me that I have to take the damned things.

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        • As far as I’m concerned, “disease model” and “medical model” are just two ways of saying the same thing. You don’t have “diseases”, you don’t have need of a physician.

          I understand that there is a lot of focus on what could be called a “trauma model”. The “trauma informed care”, in other words, business. I don’t think you’ve gone very far if you were to label everybody in the system PTSD. Injury, and in the case of psychological injury, a dubious injury at that, or “disease”? Both are excuses to call in physicians.

          Were one to stop calling for physicians in the first place, the pathologizing decreases. Were one to give everybody who receives disability the trauma excuse, rather than a separate disease label, that rate of pathologizing doesn’t necessarily decrease one iota. One really has to do something about the bureaucracy itself to change the situation, because that’s what it is, a wheedling money from the government bureaucracy

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          • I agree with Frank; “medical” and “disease” model are the same thing. The point of anti-psychiatry should be to end psychiatry, not turn itself into an academic pursuit and get all hung up on semantics.

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  14. Look at these idiots. This is from Natasha Tracy’s post titled: ”
    Are All Doctors, Psychiatrists and Scientists Lying All the Time?”, where a person “Riley C” writes:

    “Do any of you anti psychiatry [moderated] have a PhD in psychology? I do. Psychiatric disorders have been proven time and time again to be brain disorders! You can tell from a PET scan or a fMRI if a person has schizophenia. Such as large ventricles and frontal cortex atrophy. Similar things are seen in bipolar disorder. You antipsychritry morons should be [moderated].

    Moderator – I understand how frustrated you are with these groups as I feel the same way but we have rules here as to how people treat each other and you can’t say those kinds of things here.”

    These fools are still listing the mind-brain relation, which we all know. Why don’t they talk about the people that they are labelling as “bipolar” due to the effects of their own drugs (mania caused by psychiatric drugs)? And if the scans are so specific, why not use them to separate (in a blind fashion), 50 people who have X disorder vs 50 people who have nothing and prove that those mental states are primarily biological in every single human being with that label and have little to do with the shit that they have faced? They can’t. They accuse us of mind-brain duality, but they use the same paltry “mental activity is correlated with brain activity” argument everywhere, as if that is some new truth.

    I suppose “Riley C” feeling like taking a dump when he is supposed to attend an important meeting is also a “brain disorder” because it is correlated with some brain activity inside his thick skull.

    We know that these people aren’t “evil and always ‘lying’ “. That does not matter. Their intentions and benevolence are a secondary thing.

    Granted that this is from 2011, and a lot can change in 6 years, but I hope this person has understood something by now. If “Ph.Ds” in Psychology are like this, they are a friggin’ danger to people.

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    • All of the brain scans that they claim prove that schizophrenia and bi-polar cause brain shrinkage were done on people already exposed to the neuroleptics. The brains they were scanning were changed by the toxic drugs and not by any supposed “mental illness”. If you do scans on people who’ve experienced psychosis without exposure to drugs there is no difference when comparisons are made between their brains and those of people never experiencing psychosis. It’s all faulty science and a lot of huge assumptions.

      When it was shown that the drugs cause shrinkage of peoples’ brains the Grand Dame of all Biopsychiatrists decided to do a study that would prove that the drugs are not the cause of problems. Her name is Nancy Andreasen. She did her study and it proved that the drugs are the cause. She repeated her study, thinking that she’d done something wrong in the first that gave wrong results. Well…….the second study proved the same thing as the first. She sat on these findings for about two years and finally got the courage to publish the results. And of course psychiatry ignored what she’d proven and acted as if she’d never said anything at all. I am not a fan of psychiatry nor of the system but I have to admire her courage in publishing the results of her studies. But none of the psychiatrists in the “hospital” where I work have ever heard of her, which I find to be very suspect since she is a very well known psychiatrist in the area of research. And if they truly have never heard of her and these two studies then shame on them because they don’t keep up with the latest findings in their field, which doesn’t surprise me at all. I find psychiatrists to be some of the laziest doctors, and I call them doctors very loosely, that I’ve ever dealt with. Andreasen’s studies were published in 2007 so they’ve been out there long enough for everyone to know about them. After all, if a former “patient” like me knows about them then they should know about them since this is in their field of work.

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      • Many psychologists are locked into “mental health” community centers where they work closely with shrinks, social workers, case workers, etc. as a “treatment team.” Do you think it would be good for a psycho-therapist’s career if they started telling folks they see that their drugs are their biggest problem? I don’t think so.

        Philip Hickey and others like him have to open private practices. A lot of work. Easier to go with the flow and live in denial, lying to yourself along with everyone else.

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    • Riley C. can’t spell. Where did he buy his diploma? Lol.

      The damage sustained by “mentally ill” brains is in direct correlation to time spent in treatment. Until they agree to test treatment naive brains they can’t prove whether the illness or treatment is responsible. Will Hall and other ex-consumers are bright enough. The glazed, vacant eyes occur in the med compliant along with lower cognitive functioning.

      Mind altering drugs can damage the brain. Wow!

      The title itself proves it’s a “straw man argument” and not for clear minded, critical thinkers.

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  15. there is a lot of talk here….i am not sure how much help…i have a couple of thoughts…anti-psychiatry is too extreme…it will backfire…and i like the bio/psych/soc model of causation..and i have a MENTAL ILLNESS and it is not going away….and i don’t like $$$$$$being made off of mental health…it should be for free…from littleturtle..

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    • Ain’t no money in “mental health”. The money’s in “mental health treatment”.

      They can’t make it free. Somebodies got to do the work. A society of loafers is non-sustainable. A closet, on the other hand, well, that’s another matter.

      Who pays for it has always been a big issue. When you say free you mean a bigger burden for the tax payers, and that’s a burden that some of them have a problem shouldering. Another issue is should the rich pay for it, or workers and the working poor. Right now, de-regulating the economy (Trumpanomics) still means tax breaks for the wealthy.

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  16. Here we have a cult: I found this list on how cults fail/implode. It’s based on Nazi Germany but many points may be relevant here and may suggest where psychiatry sits on a timeline.
    The factors that led to the fall and destruction of destructive cults:
    1. Unstable psychotic leader(s) ? There have been a few but are well disguised right now –
    2. Slavery or slave-like entrapments causing governments to unite against them – not yet- UN is reaching out
    3. Themes that justify violence; mental, physical and financial abuses – Yes
    4. Continued proliferation of grandiose lies – YES
    5. Constant orders to subordinate members that violate basic fundamental morality and natural law – ??
    6. Violence, harassment and abuse to members and dissenters – Yes
    7. Wage wars for real or fancied reasons – War on truth
    8. Members living under constant threat – patients are
    9. Estrange allies – other medical disciplines see them as `dregs’ of the profession – can’t get recruits.
    10. Spying internally and externally
    11. Common distrust and reporting on its own members – ridicule of those like Breggin, Moncrieff etc
    12. False reporting statistics and achievements to their own members and the world – OH YES
    13. Elimination of leisure pursuits and fun – only for patients
    14. Extravagant ceremonies that create zeal and hysteria resulting in the loss of individual and group rationality – many, MANY conferences and wa*k fests
    15. A belief in destiny, “We are children of the Gods” or “Only we can save the planet” OH YES
    16. An inability to say no to leader(s), “We must!” – RPA, APA, RANZCP, etc
    17. Disintegration of conscience by creating a “wolf” or attack mentality – Yes
    18. Outlawing bad reports, bad PR, and critical thought about the group or leader – OH YES
    19. Withholding vital information and reports from members – Yes
    20. Older generation of valued members is eliminated leaving the organization to idealistic, robotic youth – No
    21. Eliminate youth’s education on other than group doctrine – trying to
    22. Attack a too powerful foe setting up an unwinnable scenario – not yet but info is coming out
    23. No acceptance of change or failure along with no realization when the war is over – yes
    25. No surrender – yes
    26. No funds or time to rebuild due to inability to admit errors and correct them until it is too late – yes
    27. Inability to confront crimes and abuse against members and mankind in general – OH YES
    28. Blame failure on cowardice and lack of member’s purpose – ?
    29. Preach “Final Victory” despite failures or no progress as the walls crumble all around – YES
    30. Collective guilt and shame – NONE
    31. Suicide or abdication of the leader(s) who steal the amassed wealth – Hopefully

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  17. “Just as comfortable with poetry as pathology.” Why not? The whole discipline of psychiatry is based on a conceit or elaborate metaphor–more suitable for the arts than the sciences. Ask our friend Dr. Pies.

    Just don’t expect your shrink to quote sonnets from Shakespeare in the near future. 😉

    R.D. Laing was a poet. But the A.P.A. doesn’t like his writings for some reason.

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    • R. D. Laing was a shrink who wrote poetry, and his being a shrink was part of the reason why so much of his poetry stank. Had he been less of a shrink, I have no doubt but that it would have had a very positive influence on his literary effects.

      Interesting, seeing as psychiatry is the science of fictive pathology.

      I remember reading an article by some psychiatrist characterizing diagnosis as an art. Well, in psychiatry, science it is not.

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        • I forgot to say I write fiction and am working on a novel. Psychological studies have helped me with character motivation and social interactions. Psychiatry is totally worthless for novelists, poets, or any other artists. Shrinks seem to have it in for artsy types. Probably because they couldn’t create anything beautiful if their lives depended on it. And fictitious “diseases” don’t count!

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  18. I do too, or I did until ECT wrecked my brain. But I found life the best source of character and situation – I hope you don’t get too tied up with the psychological stuff and just let your characters do the talking. An example of a psychiatrist writing `fiction’ is a book by a professor of Psychiatry, Gordon Parker, called “In Two Minds”.. It is one of the worst books I have ever even attempted to read. He has no real engagement with either of his characters, seeming to view them both from a psychological framework, with some hilariously bad attempts at emotional encounters. The only part of the book that rings true is his description of life in a psych ward. A man truly out of touch with the real world.
    It is not surprising that psychiatrists, and all doctors in fact, are not in touch. At university I belonged, as we all did, to a social group. We had law, arts, science, commerce students and a couple of fringe dweller med students. They were on the fringe because we rarely saw them. While we were spending time together in the cafe, or the pub discussing the world and our place in it, developing personal and social relationships as we passed from childhood to adulthood, our med students were in the library alone with technical books. They did not study any history, philosophy or literature, science, or even the practical world of money and the law, it was all the human body. They missed out on all that socialisation that is essential for understanding the human condition, not just its body parts.
    In psychiatry, they make up for this by using text books to try to explain people’s inner workings which could explain their desperate need to cling to the biological causes for behaviour – they don’t really have any other source of reference. This man’s book is an absolute testament to a sad lack of a human core whilst believing that his profession, rather than himself, can tell him how people think and feel.
    Of course, people who create really are in touch with that lost world so they can do nothing other than disparage it as an aberration. The creative process, which can be at the far end of the `normal’ curve at times, therefore must be seen as `sick’ or abnormal to someone whose experience of it is so limited.

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  19. I won’t write about stereotypical characters–which is what psychiatry is all about. Only instead of racist/sexist/religious stereotypes they have mental illnesses, which are the same thing.

    The clueless case workers used to tell me, “You’re not your illness.” Which meant absolutely nothing. It’s obvious they didn’t believe this from the way they treated us. Besides “mentally ill” means something is Very Wrong with your innermost being and irredeemably so. You can’t just compensate with a seeing eye dog or wheelchair. You’re evil and rotten to the core–and you can never change.

    One of the best ways I changed what was wrong with me came by fleeing the Mental Illness Factory. The only real mental illnesses are the ones they create!

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