Freud was not a psychiatrist; he was a neurologist who left the practice of medicine to study the inner workings of the mind, the ways societies operate, and the interplay between the two. He was more of a psychologist/sociologist/philosopher. He lived in Victorian times when, unlike today, sex was repressed and women were devalued; this largely explains why some of his ideas appear weird or offensive to many now. But if we look past these flaws, there are some worthwhile concepts.
Freud viewed psychoanalysis as within psychology rather than medicine, and urged that it not be medicalized. He believed that anybody with the right aptitude could be trained to do analysis, but that medical training would detract by limiting one’s capacity for free insight. He showed disdain for psychiatrists: “In medical school a doctor receives training which is more or less the opposite of what he would need as a preparation for psychoanalysis. . . . It gives them a false and detrimental attitude.”1 So Freud saw their untruthfulness and harmfulness, and was the first anti-psychiatrist.
Only in the U.S. did psychiatrists greedily monopolize analysis against Freud’s wishes, and create obscure terms like “superego” or “id” that only they use. The psychiatrists who publicly pathologized presidential candidate Goldwater in 1964 were such power-hungry, political-minded people. True Freudians wouldn’t have done so since they believe we all have conflicts; Freud substantiated this when logically explaining dreams,2 jokes,3 and errors4 that are now known as Freudian slips.
It is often said that his theories were debunked. This is due to the claim that emotional/behavioral troubles have been proven to be genetic or biological brain diseases (as modern psychiatry illogically prophesizes), rather than reactions to unconscious/conscious issues and events which can originate in childhood, as he rationally deduced. But this never occurred, so his ideas were never really refuted.
Let’s compare the two approaches: Freudian therapists don’t apply ostracizing or stigmatizing labels since we all have struggles. They let clients set their own goals and do the active work in therapy since insights will only be meaningful and productive if clients themselves develop them. They listen, understand, and connect deeply, patiently, and respectfully. Their clients think about why they act as they do, explore and express the issues that arise from living in society, and learn to address them in ways of their choosing. They use their brains to increase self-reliance and control over their lives.
But modern psychiatrists rush to impersonally/judgmentally/authoritatively label clients as ill and abnormal. They urge clients to push issues below the surface rather than uncover and address them, to deny their free will since it’s ‘genetic,’ and to passively follow orders. Their one-size-fits-all drugs shut clients up, deactivate their brains, and create eternally-dependent and helpless zombies for their assembly lines. So they’re exact opposites in all ways: ‘Anti-Freud’ is ‘Pro-medical model.’ Freudian psychiatrists in the ’50s-60s fought against biological psychiatry, so they were the next anti-psychiatrists. The first DSM (1952, when Freud reigned) wasn’t about categorizing symptoms into scientific-sounding diseases, but about exploring possible causative societal/psychological issues.
In later years Freud’s goal was less to ‘treat mental illness’ and more to improve society by raising self-awareness and decreasing societal repressiveness (which he did), due to thinking this was the main cause of discontent.5 If he were alive now, he’d probably say that it’s emotional rather than sexual repression that’s the problem, and blame it on psychiatry’s “medicalization of everyday life” as Szasz said.6 He’d blame our disability, suicide, shooting, drug use and overdose crises on the medical model’s poisoning of our culture and scold: “I warned you!”
Here’s how he’d analyze our ill society:
The medical model causes people to repress normal/unpleasant/unacceptable feelings such as sadness over loss, worry about the future or anger at others, to avoid being called “mentally ill” if they show these feelings (‘having’ depression, anxiety, or bipolar; or borderline personality if they express all three).
Many who are self-aware are fooled into thinking something’s wrong with them (a brain illness), and lured into fruitlessly trying to medicalize away their issues/feelings. Some go to psychiatrists to suppress them via drugs; others try alternative medicalization by blaming toxins, drug effects, diet, etc. So ‘normal’ now is emotional repression and self-unawareness; this stifles the mastering of life’s challenges. Due to medicalization, the percentage of people’s thoughts/struggles/feelings that are unconscious (or sedated away) is higher than ever before. This has had disastrous results.
Of course some of Freud’s many ideas are invalid or no longer apply, but even Szasz accepted his main ideas of the unconscious and how repressed issues and feelings may lead to actions or problems without our knowing.7 So an antidote for the medical model’s infestation of our culture would be to reintroduce some of Freud’s theories (not by therapy, but by education) to the public. After all, wouldn’t the medical model’s opposite be the best means of counteracting it? Combining this education with ongoing disproof of psychiatry’s lies will be the best way to end its reign. It won’t be hard, since Freud’s ideas are already inside us; we just need to bring them back to the surface.
Freud is still valued in many European nations. This may be why their people are less vulnerable to legal/illegal drug dealers and hence why they’re not dying from overdoses. So people of MIA: Why not let Freud join our team? He’s on our side, he’s got good ideas, and he started our cause!
- 1. Freud, S. The Question of Lay Analysis. Brentano (NY) 1926, pp. 62,63. ↩
- 2. Freud, S. The Interpretation of Dreams. Brill (London, NY) 1900. ↩
- Freud, S. Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious. Norton (New York) 1905. ↩
- Freud, S. The Psychopathology of Everyday Life. Norton (New York) 1901. ↩
- Freud, S. Civilization and Its Discontents. 1930. ↩
- Szasz, T. The Medicalization of Everyday Life. Syracuse University Press, 2007. ↩
- Wyatt, R. Thomas Szasz Interview, Psychotherapy.net Dec 2000. ↩
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.
Thank you for this article; I agree that Freud advances great psychology theory especially with exposing repressed traumas. However, I understood Freud to advocate that psychosis is a medical problem (the “purview” of psychiatry) unlike neuroses (most mental distress that he considered symptomatic of natural problems with living). Moreover, it is difficult to consider Freud to be an Antipsychiatrist while his followers consider Freudian theory to be psychiatry.
It has been popular to find flaws with Freud, and certainly there are many within his profuse writings. But the way I see it, using these flaws as reasons to reject his most important contributions, would be like rejecting democracy because Thomas Jefferson had slaves. As far as his followers connecting Freud with psychiatry, that was not his doing – He himself fought against this for years up until his death, and American psychiatrists in fact capitalized on his being ill and having to flee the Nazis, by making psychoanalysis a field only open to psychiatrists in 1938. This never took place in Europe, where people from all walks of life could train to be psychoanalysts. I am suggesting Freud be disconnected from psychiatry here too.
To paraphrase the anti-Trump campaign, not my cause. Thomas Szasz actually savages Sigmund Freud in Psychiatry: The Science of Lies (2009), if you’ve read that one, and for good reason. Freud opened this Pandora’s Box when it comes to medicalization that we are still suffering much from today. He actually offered his own sort of biological excuse for people’s errant behavior in the form of the subconscious. The problem is, it’s all bunk, and pretty easy to discount.
In the argument between talk therapy (Freudian) versus drug therapy (Kraepelinian) certainly talk therapy is preferable, however, Freud wasn’t one to touch such serious conditions as “schizophrenia”, his specialty being hysteria, and out of hysteria, you get neurosis, a whole nuther can of worms. Is psychotherapy a luxury that everybody should be indulging in? Count me out. I’ve got more pressing matters to command my attention.
In the 1960s the great fear was nuclear annihilation, today it’s been, more or less, replaced by that of global warming, but the issues are pretty much the same. Our successors are going to have to live with the world we leave them. I think there is much more to these matters than unresolved Oedipal complexes, and Freudian psychoanalysis, in a way, offers people another out when it comes to accepting personal responsibility for the world as it is. Therapy, neither talk nor drug, not even cannabis and LSD, are going to save people from themselves. Ditto, space exploration. I guess we’re stuck with each other.
Back to the argument between talk and drug. If biological psychiatry wasn’t bunk, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Alright, just as a placebo literally isn’t a real medicine, being an method for testing pills being researched, talk as a form of (medical/physical) therapy is also bunk, that is, it isn’t real medicine. You want to treat people for their “distress”, okay, given a world such as the one we’ve got, I’d hazard a guess that the wrong people are in treatment.
It’s not the “distressed” that are the problem. It’s the people who distress people (i.e. oppressors) that present the real problem.
Comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable.
Freud’s real betrayal was backing away from his Trauma Theory. He initially listened to his female clients, who told him that they’d been sexually abused in their childhood in large numbers. When he published this data, he was brutally attacked by his peers, many of whom no doubt were the perpetrators of such abuse themselves. Rather than sticking with what he knew, he decided that the women were FANTASIZING these sexual contacts, and his drive theory saved his career, but of course sentenced a century and more of women to continued sexual abuse and molestation supported by the psychiatric profession. The unwillingness of the psychiatric profession to admit that such abuse is common and harmful and is responsible for much of what is called “mental illness” continues to the present day. Freud was brilliant for listening to his clients, but in the end was a coward and betrayed them all.
Well said, especially about “The unwillingness of the psychiatric profession to admit that such abuse is common and harmful, and is responsible for much of what is called “mental illness.” This is an important point; psychiatry promotes an erroneous, skewed concept of the general level of civility of our culture that denies the reality of the distressful experiences of the disenfranchised.
I tend to see power disparities, more than anything else, as being behind this abuse. Who would deny “the distressful experience of the disenfranchised”? Obviously, those who disenfranchise, or, if you prefer, those who’s interest resides in the disenfranchisement of others. This makes the insight that comes of it a political matter rather than medical. Marginalization, after all, is a matter of being forced out of the center of value, activity, and purpose. In what trashcan do we dump these people? Oh, yeah. The one marked “mental health”.
Each of us is given a role in this farce we call life, the smart ones among us are the ones who are aware of that fact. It is a farce, and to assume otherwise is the height of arrogance.
“Power disparities” are most definitely behind abuse at all levels. Our entire Western culture was built on oppression, and oppression still lies at the heart of it. Any effective “therapy,” if we really wanted to call it that, needs to acknowledge this fact and apportion responsibility where it really lies. The best “therapeutic” results I’ve gotten involved the person I’m working with either getting away from or directly taking on the forces of evil in their lives. It’s about taking back control from the oppressors, in one way or another. Otherwise, we’re just putting wallpaper over giant holes in a person’s foundation. But guess what, the establishment doesn’t want people becoming assertive and politically astute, and it’s much more effective to blame the victims and tell them they’re “sick” so they can go “heal themselves” and “adjust” to the sick society they’re a part of. Unfortunately, I’d have to say the majority of counselors appear to pursue this kind of goal, and as long as the persecutors are running the show, that will continue to be the case.
Yes, Freud made some big mistakes. And yes, he was extremely unfair to women. But overall, he was for everything that modern psychiatry is against – patiently listening to and understanding people as individuals with unique life stories to tell, encouraging them to express all their feelings and the issues that elicited them, and helping them become stronger and capable of resolving their own struggles. I believe these are the principles that all of us here at Madinamerica are trying to promote, and I wrote this article because I believe that if together we focus on this core approach, we will have the best chance of success.
Freud was a man of his times. All of us are blinded to some extent by societal biases.
If Shakespeare (say) lived today he would not be writing anti-semitic plays. Nor would Freud have been so misogynist in his theories.
Freud’s genius was in listening to what was behind his clients’ complaints, and recognizing that people are generally not fully aware of their motivations. It is, perhaps, understandable that he knuckled under to the pressure of the times, but the profession was irrevocably damaged by the choice to suppress the truth. It make psychoanalysis ineffective and even destructive, and ultimately opened the door to biological psychiatry’s takeover, based on legitimate claims that psychoanalytical theory was not valid and didn’t lead to effective growth.
So while I admire Freud’s genius, I can’t help but deeply regret his failure to stick to the truth instead of kowtowing to social pressure. We might be in a different place today if he’d stuck with believing his clients.
“Extremely unfair to women.”
What an understatement.
While for sure, Freud may be credited with inventing talk therapy, he hardly just listened–he psychoanalyzed! And using very bizarre theories at that. Nor did he have an relationship with his clients, for he was committed to being a “blank screen”. And his writings were not just unfair to women but were hopeless misogynous. Calling him antipsychiatry is an incredible stretch.
^This. (@Steve McCrea)
“Comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable.” That is the psychiatric industry’s motto, isn’t it? Pretend to comfort the afflicted, and defame, torture, steal from, and try to murder the comfortable and happy, so the satanists can take control of the entire world.
Thanks for pointing out “Freud’s real betrayal … in the end [he] was a coward and betrayed … all [his clients].” Paternalistic control is what the psychiatric industry has always been about, in any country where they were ever given too much control, historically. They are still covering up rape of women and children on a massive scale. And they are still destroying people and countries for the fiscally irresponsible, war mongering and profiteering, “luciferian pedophile” globalist banksters.
Great comments, Steve, thank you. I’m personally tired of history repeating itself, and pray to God all are judged fairly soon.
Freud’s focus for the second half of his career, after much rethinking about things, was not on “oedipal complex” type ideas, but on the nature/origin of society, civilization, religion, etc. He changed from psychologist to sociologist/philosopher. Like you and many on this site, he blamed society for people’s “discontents”. His best book was in fact “Civilization and its Discontents”, and his goal in writing it was to change society so as to be less oppressive. Unfortunately the media/movies focused on his earlier, “treatment”-focused writings, so this is not so well-known. And unfortunately, biological psychiatry is now the most oppressive force within our society. But not only did he have nothing to do with that, he fought for most of his career to prevent psychiatry from expanding its power over people.
Are all painful emotions or problems the result of political disenfranchisement? What about when we lose somebody whom we loved due to their death? What about our fear of our own deaths?
You are talking about psychotherapy, I suppose, being used to help people get over the loss of a loved one, or to deal with the fact of their own death. Maybe, but you’ve got even the likes of Allen Frances criticizing psychiatry’s pathologizing of grief. The dealing with death part, too, has traditionally been a role for religion. Buddhists are very big on that sort of thing. I could see a role for psychotherapy I imagine, but not in the sense that you do. If it could politicize people regarding the forces that are set against them then that would be something indeed. If, in other words, psychotherapy was to help them gain insight into, and deal with, the power disparities they face in real life in a fighting manner. Psychotherapy as a revolutionary force. Now, that’s not something you’re going to get out of Freud.
As is, I have a problem with it being characterized as therapy and psychological or psychiatric. People can talk politics, and they don’t need to consider it therapy or psychiatric. If they called it radicalization, so much the better.
You are playing it both ways here, Dr. Kelmenson. You point to Freud the social philosopher when psychoanalysis as treatment is criticized but then return to psychoanalysis as treatment when Freud’s social philosophy is criticized. This to me is indicative of psychoanalytic double speak that is crazymaking when made be healers with a lot of social and intellectual prestige and expertise.
Some good points; I would however like to see more documentation of Freud’s opposition to psychiatry.
Here is some documentation of Freud’s opposition to psychiatry, as presented by M. Guy Thompson in “The Legacy of R. D. Laing: An Appraisal of his Contemporary Relevance”, pp 31-32, in which Thompson says Freud was the first anti-psychiatrist: “Freud was unhappy with the brutal way that the hysterics of his day, mostly women, were typically treated and even less happy with the prevailing concept of psychopathology. Unlike psychiatrists, Freud did not believe in an us-versus-them mentality…He believed that everyone is neurotic and that this is an essential aspect of our human condition. Freud rejected the concept of psychopathology as it is (was) commonly understood, and replaced it with an existential perspective that emphasized the management of anxiety as an inescapable aspect of living. Freud’s invention of psychoanalysis was a huge step forward in treating people we think of as nuts or crazy as human beings like ourselves. But once it was embraced by psychiatrists, psychoanalysis became yet one more weapon – and in America, a very popular one – in the war on mental illness”.
Sounds like Freud was presenting a very static view of human nature that is also very much promoted by all the ruling elites in the world.
This forms their justification for why capitalism corresponds to the so-called essential part of the human nature of all human beings. And that this is the best and highest form of human organization that people should expect in this world.
Freud, obviously grew up during the time of Karl Marx and was exposed to his brilliant historical analysis of a class based society in the rise of capitalism. He obviously rejected this analysis because his ideas are in major conflict with the essence of Marxism and a class bassed analysis..
What is the difference between saying that some people have so-called “mental disorders” (or “mental illness”) and/or saying that we all have them? All of this is abstracted from the material conditions in the world that give rise to certain patterns of thinking and behavior.
Frank is right. Read Szasz more carefully. He obliterates Freud, and rightly so.
The difference, which is a huge one (maybe the greatest of all psychiatry’s harms), is that certain people are not marginalized, stigmatized, rejected, prejudiced against, dehumanized, disregarded, or made to feel inferior/defective, if everybody is seen as coping/struggling with life’s difficulties.
Freud did some ingenuous things for sure. At the same time, he pioneered a form of talk therapy that did not involve dialogue and mitigated against dialogue. Moreover, he was very clearly an empire builder. Additionally to claim a break with psychiatry as “medicine” is a simplification and as such, misleading. Several times he states that eventually biological markers would probably discovered for what he was developing psychoanalytically.
He actually offered his own sort of biological excuse for people’s errant behavior in the form of the subconscious.
Freud didn’t talk of the subconscious but the UNconscious. This is not biological but abstract, metaphysical even. Do you deny that people do otherwise inexplicable things based on repressed experience?
“Unconscious”, subconscious, could be the same thing depending on who you are talking to.
Freud did deal with his unconscious as a biological facet, and, therefore, a medical issue. Thomas Szasz pretty much covers the issue in Psychiatry: The Science Of Lies.
The point here is that Sigmund Freud saw himself as inventing a new science, and so he wasn’t being abstract, or metaphysical (even) at all. He was delineating what he felt were laws of nature, human nature.
In doing so, Freud let’s in this counter to rationalism and understanding in the form of the unconscious as a biological entity (cough, cough), nothing abstract and metaphysical about it.
I greatly prefer Jean-Paul Sartre’s concepts of such things.
I knew that I liked your philosophy for some reason!
Thanks for pointing out with great insight, some of the flaws with today’s “medical model” DSM based psychiatric system. “But modern psychiatrists rush to impersonally/judgmentally/authoritatively label clients as ill and abnormal. They urge clients to push issues below the surface rather than uncover and address them, to deny their free will since it’s ‘genetic,’ and to passively follow orders. Their one-size-fits-all drugs shut clients up, deactivate their brains, and create eternally-dependent and helpless zombies for their assembly lines.” So true, today’s psychiatrists are gas lighters, which means they’re mental abusers, as opposed to helpers.
The thing Freud and the “medical model” psychiatrists have in common is the problem, however. Both profit off of denying and covering up child abuse and rape of women. And given that today, “the prevalence of childhood trauma exposure within borderline personality disorder patients has been evidenced to be as high as 92% (Yen et al., 2002). Within individuals diagnosed with psychotic or affective disorders, it reaches 82% (Larsson et al., 2012).”
If the “mental health industry” got out of the business of denying and covering up child abuse, they’d have basically no business at all. We live in a sick, paternalistic world that incessantly discusses the women’s abortion sins, most of which were likely due to rapes, but that doesn’t get mentioned. But we also have a multibillion dollar industry, who primary actual function is covering up rape of children, and other forms of child abuse.
As to the ‘genetic’ validity of the DSM disorders, they are not “genetic” illnesses. Whitaker pointed out the iatrogenic pathway to a “bipolar” diagnosis. And even “schizophrenia” is primarily an iatrogenic illness. In that today’s “schizophrenia” treatments, the neuroleptics/antipsychotics, can create both the negative and positive symptoms of “schizophrenia.” The negative symptoms can be created via neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome and the positive symptoms can be created via antidepressant and/or antipsychotic induced anticholinergic toxidrome.
Today’s “mental health practitioners” primary actual role in our society is, and has always been, covering up rape of women and children, by men. Our society would be better off if we started arresting the rapists and pedophiles, instead of turning millions of child abuse victims into the “mentally ill” with the psychiatric drugs.
“A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members.” Our current society will be judged as about the worst imaginable.
Plenty of psychoanalysts use stigmatizing labels and prescribe or refer for medications.
People didn’t turn to medical psychiatry because Freud was debunked, but they did because psychoanalysis was time consuming, expensive (and hence limited to the very few), and not all that helpful (let alone often harmful).
It’s tough to rehabilitate Freud in the #MeToo era. He basically laid out the theory that provided (and continues to do so) justification for not believing women and children’s experiences of sexual assault, and worse, that they wanted to be assaulted and somehow conspired to make the assault happen. Not only did it make anyone who made allegations of assault “crazy” it also made them somehow the oppressors and the men accused victims, not the other way around. I would argue this has led to a lot more “distress” than psychoanalysis has ever alleviated.
Freud and Psychoanalysis since has failed to address the social/political/economic conditions that lead to many people’s distress. Psychoanalytic Social Policy never really got off the ground because most attempts at implementing them were failures, and the more “successful” ones were quite reactionary (post-war renaturalizing of nuclear families with men as leaders of households and the workplace, misinformation campaigns to discredit democratically elected governments, and marketing of unhealthy products like cigarettes). There is a reason why people with a lot of family wealth, the well-educated and the well-employed, and white people do better in psychoanalysis than other people: psychoanalysis at best helps people just adjust to the conditions as they are. When you are already highly privilged in those conditions, that’s a pretty good deal. When you aren’t, however, psychonalysis can be crazymaking to the point of breakdown and often leaves poor, non-white, queer people a lot worse off than when they started.
Freud’s understanding of the way psyches interact with society was pretty basic and just reified the social order as it stood (and stands). Basically, “Ya, modern civilization can be dehumanizing, but it’s worth it considering the alternatives. Better to know that and participate in it while winking at this truth than fighting it.” This only works for people for whom civilization makes their lives more secure at the expense of making other people’s lives more vulnerable. For vulnerable folks, telling people to go through the motions of society while winking at its absurdity is even more dehumanizing. Those “motions” are what makes their lives insecure and leads to psychological distress, not their maladjusted reactions to them.
Plenty of psychoanalysts use stigmatizing labels and prescribe or refer for medications.
And plenty (to the degree that a plentitude of psychoanalysts exists) do not use such labels, or refer for drugs; some refuse to see people who are taking drugs.
So if one just wants to talk to someone, and does not want to be psychiatrically stigmatized or referred for medications. The trick is to go to an unlicensed by the state psychoanalyst, as opposed to all those other “mental health professionals,” like the psychologists, social workers, and therapists, that are licensed by the state?
That’s what my wife did. I found her a theophostic counselor. Of course it’s ‘buyer beware’ but that’s true even of the ‘licensed counselors.’ And we hit gold because this lady was nearly a perfect fit for my wife as she had already competently helped someone else with d.i.d. and they connected and now are pretty good friends. So my wife has ZERO paper trail to connect her with d.i.d. There are a lot of alternative counselors out there, I believe, though it has been 10 years since I’ve had to look for one.
Don’t know much about licensing practices. But the state should have no involvement whatever. That’s assuming that the counselor is even any good.
Freud did not always practice what he preached. Princess Alice of Battenberg, mother of Prince Phillip the Duke of Edinburgh, was hospitalized involuntarily for a couple of years at a Swiss clinic with religious delusional beliefs.
Freud was consulted and recommended that she be sterilized by having her ovaries radiated to kill off her libido, which he suggested was the cause of her delusions. She would have a legitimate complaint in the litany of Freud’s betrayal of womens’ grievances in the #MeToo era.
Frank and Nathan:
I am not pushing psychotherapy; I am the last person who would push anything on anyone. There are millions of ways to cope, of which psychotherapy is just one, and “to each his own” as far as I am concerned. What I am suggesting, is that we re-examine Freud’s ideas since they generally ally with us here at madinamerica, and against biological psychiatry. Since addressing the reasons why we’re upset is the antithesis of psychiatry’s medical model, and since it’s what people used to do before the medical model brainwashed people into thinking they’re only upset due to chemical imbalances, it seems to me that defeating the medical model means bringing back the idea that people can work on their own problems, in ways of their choosing, if they face up to them instead of medicalizing them.
Psychoanalytic zeitgeist and hegemony did not allow for much “to each his own” for ways of coping. It pushed a single method of framing and understanding distress at the expense of other ways, sometimes with forced treatment or proof of “insanity” if disagreeing with that hegemony. I would argue that it has to to have therapeutic effect. Just like drugs “work” primarily from placebo due to a cultural saliency of the chemical imbalance theory, the hegemony of medicine for healing in general (seeing a doctor is not just the most respected person to see when ill, but seeing another kind of healer is not respectable), well-respected experts being nice to you in a difficult time, past positive experiences with medication, etc., psychotherapy “works”/worked because of the cultural saliency of psychoanalytic theory, psychoanalytic hegemony of mental health (having an analyst is very respectable, but having a priest or astrologer or whatever is not), someone willing to listen to you, past positive experiences with helper figures, etc. But psychoanalytic therapy has never been well practiced as one option among many. Freud and followers had an agenda to to make psychoanalytic theory a “theory of everything” that made it the true way of dealing with the mind/distress/society/whatever at the expense of other false ways. This is really inescapable if you have any expectation of people choosing psychotherapy (which requires its saliency, co-option by medicine so that health insurance can be used to justify the super high costs, etc., disapproval of non psychomedical ways of thinking about distress, etc.)
I think examining Freud is useful in that Freud’s work is an example of another kind of false hegemony over distress gives a historical understanding that it doesn’t really matter what that hegemony is (biomedical or psychoanalytic), but it is that there is a hegemony that buttresses the powers at be that is problematic.
All I really do is give people a chance to talk about whatever is on their mind to a fellow human being, while I listen and understand non-judgmentally. I don’t push any gimmicks, models, theories, belief systems, or “cures” onto them. I don’t claim to have any answers to life’s struggles, because I don’t. I don’t see how you can put that in the same class as authoritarian/condescending biological psychiatrists who knowingly lie to and harm people, building up their false hopes and turning them into permanently dependent zombies for their own financial gain.
I’m confident that the psychoanalytic rackets of training analyses, engaging in ways that lead to unnatural, iatrogenic transferences that lead to staying in analyses to deal with them, lack of meaningful consent processes about the many risks of such processes, and the requirement for sustained income for analysis as means to for analysts to knowingly lie to and harm people, build up their false hopes, make people permanently dependent zombies for their own financial gain. As psychodynamic therapies have replaced more formal analysis as the primary psychotherapy, I don’t think this has changed all that much.
If all you really do is give people a chance to talk about what is on their mind to a fellow human while listening and understanding non-judgmentally, I don’t see why health insurance should pay for such services nor should working as a psychotherapist require any advanced schooling or special licensing, or how anyone (let alone hundreds of thousands of people) makes a fulltime living doing this. I mean, many of us listen to fellow humans with understanding and without judgement quite often and for free. You are able to work as you do because you have medical pedigree, you have state license to better claim legitimacy, and people think you are an expert of models, theories, and cures due to a long history of psychoanalytic therapists and psychiatrists (and related mental health professionals) claiming such understanding to the public and convincing the state, criminal courts, educational services, and individuals/families of such (sole) expertise.
Even your MiA bio is not about how nice of a listener you are, but a resume of your participation in all of the steps it takes to become a psychiatrist.
I have to say, Nathan, that I had quality psychotherapy (NOT psychoanalysis) for 15 months back in the 80s, and I very much doubt that any friend or family member could have provided me with the kind of support that I received. I was very fortunate to find her, and would be even more so today.
Such therapists have, indeed, become rare, but I have also provided this kind of service professionally, and I am very comfortable saying that I have been able to help people in some very unusual ways that would be unlikely to be available to the average person.
I do think there is a place for professional helpers. I don’t think there is any place for professional arrogance and hubris. Unfortunately, the vast majority of “mental health” workers are short on humility or too afraid to speak out about the destruction happening in the name of “healing.”
I don’t think you are claiming that the services you found helpful in the 80s or the ones you now provide are only understanding and listening to people nonjudgementally.
However, I am still not all that convinced that professionalized helping has been a net good, even if many people have been “helped” by professional helpers.
My point is only that there are some people who do have exceptional skills in helping a person look at why they do what they do and take a more conscious and active role in deciding what kind of life they want to have. I make no claim that having a professional degree delineates such folks (I actually have an undergrad in Chemistry!) – I’m only saying that I don’t find anything wrong with someone charging a reasonable fee for helping someone make changes they want to make in their life. But they need to PRODUCE THE DESIRED RESULTS. Most counselors and almost all psychiatrists fail to meet this standard. A lot more untrained folks with personal experience and skill can meet that standard, and I have no problem if they get paid for doing something that most people can’t do.
I guess I tend to agree with you that professionalization, particularly licensing and medicalizing and involving insurance payments, has almost certainly done far more harm than good in the collective.
My point is only that there are some people who do have exceptional skills in helping a person look at why they do what they do and take a more conscious and active role in deciding what kind of life they want to have.
I think Lawrence and Steve both have good points. Most SO’s seem pretty overwhelmed by what is necessary to help their mates heal, especially when so many are dealing with their own issues. I certainly was overwhelmed, but simply refused to give up until I mucked my way thru the first 3 or 4 years at which point I figured out how to really help my wife. It would have been GREAT to have the help of a professional to guide me and my wife in the beginning. I think they could have helped me get ‘my head on straight’ and also have taught me how to help my wife better and SOONER.
The counselor that my wife still uses was invaluable in the beginning while I got my act together. But at this point, the counselor doesn’t understand what I’m doing with my wife and so her role has largely receded to being a good friend with whom the little girls feel free to talk to, the only other ‘outside person’ other than me and our son with whom they interact face to face.
I still contend that none of them can do the things that we SO’s can do, but I do believe they have a vital role to play, and it is more than just being a ‘good listener’.
Oldhead: I’ve always been a tad on the heretical side!
Dr. Kelmenson, I would have gladly had you for my therapist. Unfortunately, my choice of “therapy” is restricted to Community Mental Illness Centers (NOT MENTAL HEALTH!)
Medicaid only pays for me to see “therapists” who parrot back whatever my shrink says, tell me to keep taking my drugs, encourage me to segregate myself with my “own kind,” and remind me to aim low because I’m hopeless. Who needs “help” like that?
I’m doing better without this kind of therapy. 🙂 I’m sure you’d agree it’s counterproductive.
I agree with you 100%. That’s the opposite of help. Congratulations on using your own capabilities and thinking for yourself.
I agree with you about CMHC’s. they are one of the worst things to ever happen to people labeled as “mentally ill”.
I can only speak for the three that I’ve dealt with. One was terrific until a new head was appointed and then it turned into a complete and total disaster. The other two were the worst when it came to helping people with anything. In fact, these two CMHC’s try their hardest to absolutely KEEP from helping people with anything.
As you stated, most of them only function to bolster up the present system of abuse and to make sure that people in forced treatment are watched with an eagle eye. They’re just another tool of the system to keep people down and “ill forever”. Anyone who becomes employed by them who is actually wanting to do some worthwhile work for people in distress give up in disgust and quit. Most of them need to be closed.
“I am not pushing psychotherapy; I am the last person who would push anything on anyone. There are millions of ways to cope, of which psychotherapy is just one, and “to each his own” as far as I am concerned.” Couldn’t agree 100% more with that statement Dr. K. Personally, I feel the same way about religion, “to each his own,” and I can’t stand people that want to push their religion down your throat, only difference here, religion versus psychotherapy, is that additive drugs are pushed down your throat by doctors that only care about paying for their student loans and getting wealthy whereas religious folks have their beliefs. So it’s fair to say, each have their own agenda. One makes you addicted to drugs and the other, well, you simply don’t answer your door.
“What I am suggesting, is that we re-examine Freud’s ideas since they generally ally with us here at madinamerica, and against biological psychiatry.” Again, not my field of study, but this “biological psychiatry,” is how people get labeled and addicted to pharmaceutical drugs and get damaged for life.
“It seems to me that defeating the medical model means bringing back the idea that people can work on their own problems, in ways of their choosing, if they face up to them instead of medicalizing them.” Wow, that is excellent insight, putting the ball in the individuals court and making them put some skin in the game, I couldn’t agree more.
Everyone needs to be accountable and control their respective lifes, not be dictated to by doctors. That’s true in life with everything for the most part, but not everyone and that’s a shame. Those that suffer abuse (physical or mental) can’t always be strong, nor can they cope and become victims of doctors and their addictive drugs. Are they mentality ill? Well, I can’t answer this, you professional’s on this site clearly have an opinion. Merry Christmas Richard. Glad your back. Missed your points of view.
dr kelmenson—I think you are pushing biology out the door…freud wouldn’t do that…
I have felt that Freud’s theories are merely untestable personal ideas. In contrast, mindfulness practices and understanding the moment-by-moment manifestation of subjective experience makes so much more sense to me.
Like I said in a previous comment – “to each his own”. Either way, people are learning their own ways to cope productively with life’s unavoidable struggles, which is the opposite of the medical model’s mis-labeling of emotions as abnormal “brain diseases” that people are helpless to cope with, except by putting their faith in and depending on a drug-dealing doctor.
Yes, I fully agree that the currently prevalent “a pill for everything” attitude has to change. However, people do struggle with mental issues (“problems in living”), and it is good to seek standard ways (psychological) in which they can cope. Regarding this, I happened to come across the following link on how informal groups can help themselves: https://www.medicalnewsbulletin.com/meditation-therapy-rumour/
Many Freud claims are pretty testable and “falsiable”.
Many others are phenomenologically testable e.g. you hear the interpretation, feel something and then after some time your behaviour changed.
The therapy practice is probably testable using many questionnaries from clinical psychology.
Some may be surprised that I appreciate this article and concur with some of its thoughts about Freud. I read The Question of Lay Analysis in college I think, with its thesis being that medical degrees are not necessary to understand thought and behavior, and practice psychoanalysis. (Unfortunately, and I hate to disappoint, Freud elsewhere also speculated that eventually medical solutions would render psychoanalysis irrelevant, thought I can’t document that off the top of my head.)
I don’t think Freud would necessarily have been a Szaszian, but he would have no trouble understanding and appreciating Szasz’s deconstruction of the “mental illness” myth.
A few random notes:
He lived in Victorian times when, unlike today, sex was repressed and women were devalued
“Unlike today”? How is it different today?
If he were alive now, he’d probably say that it’s emotional rather than sexual repression that’s the problem, and blame it on psychiatry’s “medicalization of everyday life” as Szasz said.6 He’d blame our disability, suicide, shooting, drug use and overdose crises on the medical model’s poisoning of our culture and scold: “I warned you!”
I don’t see any evidence that Freud would in fact say these things. Emotional and sexual repression go together and, once again, the idea that there is no sexual repression today is simply false. The fact that sexual imagery is plastered everywhere is a characteristic of sexual repression, not an indication that it no longer exists. (Btw in practice, I have been told that people are more inhibited about admitting aggressive feelings in “therapy” than sexual ones.)
oldhead – The discussion of Freud’s relevance is somewhat mitigated by the fact that only private pay “patients” can avail themselves of this sort of treatment – thus leaving out the vast majority of those who seek help. But I will say that, whether cherry picking his pluses and ignoring his minuses or not, at least his methods did not (as far as I know) result in death – unlike so many dying from the medications prescribed these days by psychiatrists who pretend not to know.
That’s a good point. And I would add that true Freudian therapists are also less likely to push false, stigmatizing, permanent labels onto people that can also harm and sometimes ultimately lead to early death. As far as psychoanalysts only seeing private pay clients, that is true, but most regular psychotherapists, as long as they are not part of a medical model-dominated system in which their role is to get clients to “accept their diagnosis” and comply with “medication to treat it”, probably make some use of Freud’s general ideas about everyone having feelings/issues that they are not fully conscious of, which if brought to the surface and acknowledged in therapy can sometimes have a beneficial “freeing” effect.
It’s a stretch, and a tough sell, particularly to this audience- many of whom (like me) have either lost relatives to this bitter war (for me – father killed by ECT and son killed by Zyprexa) or been greatly harmed themselves….to try to salvage any bits from the wreckage, Freud or any other. Nonetheless, every movement needs a “history”, and I guess – any narrative of the hoped-for abolishment of psychiatry as “practiced” today should rightly include Freud.
Women may be devalued–but it’s because we’re only seen as sex objects. Sex is EVERYWHERE now. How anyone could call this sex-crazed culture repressive is beyond me. We’re a lot more like Huxley’s Brave New World than Orwell’s 1984. An anti-sex league might be a good thing–simply as a counterweight for more balanced behavior.
Dr. Kelmenson, as Frank mentioned earlier, Szasz demolishes Freud. No one who has truly read and understood the work of Thomas Szasz would claim that he and Freud are somehow in the same camp. Your misreading of Szasz is only outdone by your misreading of Freud. Szasz got Freud right, and the attempt to resurrect Freud, if he weren’t already such a dominant, if unrecognized, influence in our society, would be disastrous. Freud legitimized the deception inherent in the practice of psychiatry that was already present in his mentor Charcot. Without Freud, there would be no biological psychiatry. Szasz also demolishes the notion that Freudian psychiatrists and psychotherapists somehow helped to combat biological psychiatry. It’s nonsense. These two strands of psychiatry are mutually reinforcing although one poses as the opponent of the other. Furthermore, Freud’s relationship to medicine is much more complex than you make it out to be in your essay. Freud was a frustrated medical student who was forced into the bottom of the barrel. In his search for prestige and power, Freud attempted to legitimize the field that was most repugnant in medical circles, and he did just that with the most clever kind of mendacity imaginable. He wasn’t just demeaning to women. Freud is an unmitigated disaster in world history, and may be considered one of the major founders of the system of oppression, torture, and abuse that is now considered to be a legitimate field of medicine, namely psychiatry. There is no sense in trying to rehabilitate the man whose work laid the foundation for every subsequent absurdity that disguises itself as science in the field of psychiatry, whether it be biological or it’s close cousin. In fact, biological psychiatry is in some ways a more honest pseudo-science because at least it doesn’t pretend to combat itself. It is straightforwardly wrong. Any attempt to revitalize Freud (who is already a pervasive, but unrecognized influence in our society), and any attempt to reclaim Freud as some sort of an anti-psychiatrist is disingenuous at best. Freud is not the first anti-psychiatrist, for without Freud, anti-psychiatry might not be necessary. Anti-Freud is not Pro-medical model. Nothing could be further from the truth. If Freud were alive today, he would probably be looking for ways to justify the mess that he had created, just as you do in this essay. Szasz would have vehemently opposed such assumptions as you have set forth. There is absolutely no need to reintroduce Freud’s theories because Freud’s theories are already the basis of the society in which we live, and they are at the foundation of what Szasz described as the therapeutic state. Szasz, not Freud, needs to be resurrected.
Why not let Freud join our team? He’s already on the pro-psychiatry, pro-biological psychiatry, pro-any kind of coercive psychiatry team. He’s not on the side of the victims of psychiatry. He has terrible, destructive ideas. You got one thing right, though, he started the cause of psychiatry. For that, his ideas ought to be repudiated in the clearest and most decisive manner.
I want to actually point that the ‘system of torture, rape and abuse’ (modern psychiatry) were existed many years before Freud and probably stems out of people’s contempt and stigmatization of mentally ill which existed almost forever.
Almost?…Forever?…Well, that’s relatively absolute for you, or is it absolutely relative?
The scapegoating of people given psychiatric labels, or pegged ‘lunatic’, I would imagine, followed the scapegoating of other people, such as…beggars, cripples, sexual deviants, outlaws, foreigners, divergent religious sects, etc., etc, etc..
“Mental illness” doesn’t exist among animals in the wild. A demented animal is an animal unfit for survival, that is, prey.
The contempt for the “mentally ill” began as the world shifted to a secular perspective of the previous (religious) contempt for witches- “demonic possession.”
That is a good point.
How is the view of “demonic possession” any better than the label of “mental illness.” Both lead to isolation and/or various forms of harmful “treatment” and quite often death?
Hi, Frank! I think you definitely know history of mental illness better then me.
I’m actually really interested on your opinion of psychopharmacology in the sense that we stop putting people in asylums forever due to psychopharmacology.
Otherwise if you mad you were condemned for life in prison. So what do you think – are drugs really bad?
I mean the story of many peoples there – they comply with drug regime, get out and then stop using drugs.
Neuroleptic drugs weren’t used in psychiatric institutions until the mid-1950s. Before then you had the electro-shock and lobotomy “treatments” that, unlike neuroleptics, originated during the eugenics era. What I’m saying is people were locked up in institutions before there was any such thing as psychopharmacology as we know it today. Psychopharmacology has been credited, probably unduly and excessively, with getting people out of such institutions. There are obvious problems with neuroleptics (and similar psychiatric drugs), in that they can cause damage to the person being drugged, and they can impede, even stymie, “recovery” efforts, too. They are not the issue when it comes to ending forced hospitalization, they are the issue when it comes to ending forced drugging, inside and outside of the hospital setting. I wouldn’t take such drugs of my own volition, I value my intelligence too much to do so, however that is not an option in a hospital setting at the present date. It should, of course, be an option. I’ve been in the hospital quite a few more times than once, and I was compliant long enough to get out of the hospital (not really having any choice in the matter, it was either the med quay or goons with a syringe), and once outside of that setting, I would stop taking the drugs. A non-drug inpatient option, to my way of thinking, would be a definite improvement. Sweet dreams.
People laughed at madmen in the Middle Ages. Different from fear and hatred. And you had to be truly out of it to qualify as mad.
Most of today’s “severely mentally ill” would not have made the cut for crazy back then. No DSM. That helped a lot. No drugs to drive them truly insane either!
Slaying the Dragon:
I looked forward to your response, and the opportunity to debate with you. First of all, I like how you agree with me that Freud’s ideas are strongly present in our society’s unconscious. And I agree with you that if not for Freud, biological psychiatry probably would not have come to power. But I see that as a result of psychiatrists having initially monopolized Freudian therapy in the U.S., and then choosing to adapt to Freud’s fall from grace and to heavy competition from social workers/psychologists, by colluding with drug companies to invent/promote the biological psychiatry religion. Other contributing factors, such as the ever-expanding DSM, direct-to-consumer drug advertising, and drug company government lobbying, were also specific to the greed focus of the U.S. rather than inevitable outcomes of Freudian theory, and thus also only occurred in the U.S. Freud himself only visited the U.S. once and was apprehensive about what its embrace of his ideas might lead to – he mistrusted American motives, especially its psychiatrists.
I myself have found Freud’s brilliant theories about unconscious motivations and how they conflict with society’s restrictiveness, and Szasz’s brilliant ideas about the therapeutic state and how psychiatry is a form of social control, to be compatible. I agree with Szasz that Freud shouldn’t have used an “illness” approach, and that Freud’s power got the best of him and led to his demanding to be worshiped somewhat like a god, tainting his legacy. But Szasz also erred in allying with the Church of Scientology. Even Szasz early in his career and late in his life seemed to value Freud’s theories. I do not suggest bringing all of Freud back, just his ideas about emotions being normal, valuable reactions to issues which are sometimes unconscious, rather than diseases that must be suppressed, since this could help our movement greatly. I look forward to your response.
Lawrence (I prefer to be called by my first name here)
Lawrence, for goodness sake. Not the worn out “Scientology” trope. I get the sense that you are more intelligent than that. Biological psychiatrists have always tried to dismiss Szasz by highlighting his connection to Scientology. The simple point is that Szasz and Freud are like oil and water… they don’t mix. If you could provide some specific examples where Szasz seemed to value Freud’s theories, that would be great. If you read “Psychiatry: The Science of Lies” or any of his other books, you will notice that Szasz excoriates Freud from almost every possible angle. I disagree with Szasz about a lot of things, and it is very unfortunate that his affiliation with Scientology is so overdrawn, but he was right about Freud and the myth of mental illness, among other things.
To clarify, I don’t think that Freud’s ideas are present in our society’s unconscious, since that is probably a term that Freud himself would use. I reject that notion. But Freud’s ideas, like those of many other modern thinkers, have been very influential. The reason that they are influential without people knowing about them is because people no longer read books, and they are inheritors of traditions they no longer explore.
Of course I agree with you that biological psychiatry and big pharma have combined to create a monster of gargantuan proportions. And I see that you agree with me that Freud is partially responsible for the creation of that monster. Freud may have been apprehensive about a lot of things, because he mistrusted everyone, including himself. Modern American psychiatry is indebted to Freud in many ways, but also to the waves of philosophy and psychiatry coming out of France and then Germany.
I agree with you that emotions are normal, but that’s not what Freud’s theories demonstrate. In many ways Freud was directly responsible for the acceleration of the medicalization of every day life and normal human experience. I think that there is value in studying Freud, particularly in the way that Szasz recommends, but not to galvanize his ideas as some sort of a boon to antipsychiatry.
I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “our” movement, since it has been made abundantly clear that MIA is not quite on board with antipsychiatry, properly understood, or with the abolition of psychiatry and the protection and welfare of psychiatric survivors. There are many movements, some of which seem to be based on the notion of “reforming” psychiatry. In his book “Psychiatric Slavery,” Szasz makes it clear that abolition, not reform, is the only morally and intellectually coherent position.
Thank you for a civil exchange, and I hope that my responses will inspire you, and others, to read more of the works of Thomas Szasz. Szasz saw through the lies of psychiatry (and Freud’s lies) many decades ago, and his ideas are more relevant today than when he recorded them in his books. All the best.
You don’t think that Szasz made a tactical error in teaming up with Scientology to found the CCHR?
I think that we make a tactical error by giving this classic diversion the time of day.
Sometimes it makes sense to make strategic alliances. This is by no means an endorsement of such groups; on the other hand Scientology didn’t have the same reputation back then, and was more of an unknown quantity. (In my experience they would go away if you told them to.) But it could well be that Szasz’s libertarian/”conservative” orientation led him to overlook other possible alliances.
I don’t. You work with who will work with you. I see pragmatism in this relationship for one thing. People would be even more dismissive of Thomas Szasz if the CCHR wasn’t there to coalition with him. If Szasz wasn’t Scientology unfriendly then Scientologists aren’t unfriendly towards Szasz.
The Center for Independent Thought offers a Szasz prize named after Thomas Szasz. Szasz wasn’t a Scientologist, but working with Scientology to found the CCHR was illustrative of his independence of thought. Its, the CCHR’s, stated mission is to oppose involuntary psychiatric treatment.
Szasz and others formed the American Association For The Abolition of Involuntary Hospitalization in 1970. It folded in 1980. The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) is still operating. If it took working with the Church of Scientology to end non-consensual coercive psychiatry, all power to them, I’d say work with the Church of Scientology.
I think that we make a tactical error by giving this classic diversion the time of day.
I don’t think it’s fair to act like Lawrence was invoking Scientology in that way. It seemed to me that he was pointing out how Szasz, like Freud (or anyone), had his own shortcomings.
My opinion is that Szasz’ teaming up with Scientology was a huge mistake. Perhaps Scientology was relatively unknown then and Szasz couldn’t have foreseen what would happen, but we can see now that it was a bad move. How can anyone consider it a good move for the first modern public figure with an advanced critique of psychiatry to be associated with an organization that most people consider to be a scary cult? This is the reason that “the classic diversion” exists in the first place.
Perhaps part of why most people consider it to be a scary cult is because they teamed up with Szaz and posed a threat to the hierarchy? If you re-read Anatomy, you can see that the psychiatrists intentionally smeared Scientology so that they could attach any critique of psychiatry to Scientologists? Not saying Scientology doesn’t have its issues. but let’s be honest, psychiatry has done all it could to make Scientologists look like brainless drones and make anyone who criticizes them look like they are drones as well.
I mean, yeah, there’s some truth to that, but would it have been a good idea for Szasz to have teamed up with the Moonies? Insert any fringe religious denomination you want to, but it was bound to be problematic.
I’ll bore those familiar with my “line” to repeat two things: If a Scientologist says the sky is blue, the fact that we also hold that belief does not make us in league with Scientology; and if someone brings up Scientology in relation to anti-psychiatry we should ask them why they feel compelled to change the subject.
Probably true. But I’m guessing they were the only ones fighting that fight at the time, and he took an ally where he could find one. It is unfortunate when comments by Tom Cruise can be used to characterize opposition to psychiatry, but if it weren’t them, it would be someone else.
Thomas Szasz’s defense of capitalism, especially laissez-faire economic policies, and his criticism of socialism, I would consider a huge mistake. He objected to the Philadelphia Project experiments, including successors like Soteria house, seeing in them collectivism. So only his own brand of shopfront individual, what he called autonomous, psychotherapy was to be approved of by him. It seems to me that politically he was still fighting the cold war. What I give him the thumbs up for is for being an indefatigable opponent of forced treatment. That was right on all the way down the line. If Scientologists were willing to work against forced psychiatry, so much the better. As the saying goes, I wouldn’t be one to look a gift horse in the mouth.
I support your position here (on Szasz and Scientology) 100%.
It was a huge tactical error for him to ally himself with a dangerous cult. Since Szasz was using pieces of the scientific method and approach to critically analyze Psychiatry, he could have (and should have) done the same with Scientology before working with them.
Right Wing (of the Fascist ilk) talk show host, Michael Savage, is a big critic of psychiatry’s drugging of people. I would not want to come within a million miles of any kind of association with him or his talk show, even if he offered boatloads of on the air time.
Unfortunately, Peter Breggin has made major tactical errors in the past appearing on his show several times.
You have made excellent points about Szasz’s political shortcomings.
If Szasz had been a part of the anti-Imperialist (including Black Liberation and Women’s component) uprisings in the 1960’s and beyond, this might have helped pushed the struggle against psychiatrist abuse much more to the forefront of all the major human right’s struggles of our era. Please post some of the best sources of his writings to do further investigation.
However, you minimize the seriousness of the pragmatic political (and possibly philosophical) errors he made working with Scientology.
I don’t think so, Richard. Either you get something going, or you don’t. Thomas Szasz got something going with the aid of the Scientologists. I can’t knock that.
There may be a number of things wrong with Scientology, however they remain adamant in their opposition to psychiatry, at least, in the way personal problems are treated outside of Scientology.
You had the Association for the Abolition of Involuntary Hospitalization that represented his 1st attempt to get something going, and it folded. He put his name to the CCHR, okay, 2nd attempt, and he had no regrets about doing so. The CCHR is still around today.
Next question: are there any comparable organizations dedicated to the end of forced treatment anywhere? I don’t see a lot out there, and…did we have any such organization, horror of horrors, they might have to work with Scientologists to reach their objectives. I don’t really think it is any better to treat Scientologists the way lepers were once treated than it is to treat mad people in such a fashion.
You said: “The CCHR is still around today.”
This is a sad fact. The world would be MUCH BETTER off if CCHR (a front group) and Scientology went out of existence.
They are a highly funded and powerful political (under the guise of religion) cult. Have you ever read some of the personal accounts of former members about the inner workings of this cult? The amount of psychological AND social forms of control they exercise over their members is one of those “higher forms” of modern slavery that I referenced earlier.
I respect how desperate you are to see more active resistance against forced treatment, but settling for working with CCHR is NOT the way to go here. This is especially true when you examine the inner workings of this organization.
When someone exposes a fascist organization like the KKK and their ilk (including Scientology), they are not somehow treating them like “lepers.” This is a false analogy.
My opinion is that the most detrimental effect of Szasz’s alliance with the church of scientology to fight psychiatry’s abuses, is that since the general public views the church of scientology as a bizarre, abusive, irrational cult, then the anti-psychiatry movement, by appearing to endorse/associate itself with the CS, became itself (in the public’s eyes) bizarre, irrational, and cult-like. I believe this led to people being more likely to mistakenly assume that psychiatry has credibility and science on its side, and thus hurt our cause in the long run. Often when I explain my views about psychiatry to people, I am met with jokes about whether I am affiliated with the CS.
“This is a sad fact. The world would be MUCH BETTER off if CCHR (a front group) and Scientology went out of existence.”
I totally disagree, Richard. The CCHR is one of the few organizations in the world dedicated to abolishing forced psychiatric treatment. I feel we could use many more such organizations, not fewer. On this one point, too, I’m not going to knock the Scientologists for being involved in it. If Tibetan Buddhists were involved in opposing forced psychiatry and human rights abuses, I’d praise Buddhists, too. The alternative is either promoting psychiatric torture, or ignoring it. I’m with all, of whatever denomination or political persuasion, who would oppose it. I’m not going to tell them you can’t oppose forced psychiatric treatment, or if you do, I’m going to oppose you, that just doesn’t strike me as a logical position to take. I’d much prefer to be more pragmatic, and to embrace all who would assist us in this fight we have ahead of us.
Yes he did, another oppressive group. Richard explained his point very well in regard to Scientology.
Slaying the Dragon:
By “our movement”, I refer to our common goal of correcting psychiatry’s lies and eliminating as many of its harms as is possible. Do you accept that we all have wishes that we are not completely conscious of? Freud showed how this is a logical way to explain why we all create dreams in which we play out fantasies that we would never acknowledge having, and why many people do things which they claim (consciously) they can’t control and wish they could stop doing. If you look up Szasz’s Dec 2000 article on psychotherapy.net, you will see that he also sees the value of this explanation and credits Freud. If you read “Interpretation of Dreams”, you will encounter many seemingly nonsensical dream sequences which many of us experience, and which Freud seems to have been able to make some sense of. It’s where his genius comes through the most, and it has nothing to do with “mental illness treatment”, just with exploring the mysterious inner workings of our minds and finding out that there is often more to us than we are aware of.
By “our movement”, I refer to our common goal of correcting psychiatry’s lies and eliminating as many of its harms as is possible.
This does not constitute a true anti-psychiatry position if the implication is that “correcting the lies” can be done without “eliminating the profession,” as the lies we’re talking about constitute the basis of psychiatry’s claim to legitimacy.
What is “possible” is a question of motivation. If psychiatry were to be delegitimized in the eyes of the public and other healing professionals, ALL its “harms” would be eliminated, as it would no longer exist as a viable entity.
Oldhead has it right. What’s the point of correcting lies? Lies don’t need to be corrected. They need to be exposed and eliminated. Psychiatry is the source of those lies, and hence, psychiatry needs to be abolished. It’s simple. Do I accept that we all have wishes of which we are not completely conscious? No. I reject anything that Freud had set forth. I’ve read Freud’s “The Interpretation of Dreams.” Freud has another book called “The Psychopathology of Everyday Life.” Ponder that title for a moment. Whatever Szasz may have said in favor of Freud must be counterbalanced with the preponderance of his criticisms of Freud. You see Freud as a genius. He was a clever fraud, that’s for sure. There is much more to us than Freud was aware of, but his musings have certainly caused a lot of trouble.
Do I accept that we all have wishes of which we are not completely conscious? No. I reject anything that Freud had set forth
Methinks you get too bent out of shape over Freud. If Freud had seen the results of using medical metaphors such as “psychopathology” he might have been more cautious about it, who knows? Psychpathology of Everyday Life was the first of Freud’s books I perused, in high school. (I was also reading Wilhelm Reich, Timothy Leary and Marshal McCluhan.) I found it entertaining and conducive to viewing everyday mundanity at a different level. Of course that was before most people had discovered LSD.
Freud did not invent psychiatry, he probably wasn’t much more than a bump in the road, though his work was apparently appropriated by forces larger than himself. If anything he may have held back the rush of psychiatry towards chemical warfare. But he didn’t tie his work in with that of Marx, which was unfortunate, though I’m sure you don’t share this view. What I’m mainly saying is that we’re the anti-psychiatry movement, not the anti-psychoanalysis movement, as psychoanalysts do not portray themselves as doctors treating diseases.
But also isn’t it self-limiting to reject an idea based on who said it rather than its merits?
Correct psychiatry’s lies; persuade people of the truth. Then psychiatry will implode on itself soon after.
The truth will set you free!
Old Head, it’s Freud’s ideas that are dangerous and that I reject. If his ideas had merit, that would be one thing. Freud was a fraud, and his ideas promoted the psychiatric agenda in ways that not many have understood. I never said that Freud invented psychiatry, but he is among the fraudulent teachers whose ideas inform psychiatry, not just psychotherapy. Freud loved chemicals, by the way. Like you, I oppose psychiatry, but I am just as skeptical as Szasz about so-called “psychotherapy.” Psychoanalysts may not necessarily portray themselves as doctors in the “medical” sense but they are just as much doctors in the sense of the modern ersatz clergy of the false religion of psychiatry. Again, I reject Freud’s theories and ideas, not just his less than upright character. In other words, I disagree with you about the significance of Freud in the history of psychiatry, and I agree with Szasz’s portrait of Freud in “Psychiatry: The Science of Lies” and other books. Charcot was one of Freud’s worst influences. Darwin was another. Nietzsche’s influence on Freud must also be unpacked. In short, the attempt to vindicate Freud is not helpful for the antipsychiatry movement, and it’s not helpful for human beings in general.
You said: “… since the general public views the church of scientology as a bizarre, abusive, irrational cult…”
To the extent that the public has such an impression, this is a very good thing.
And the problem with ANY kind of association with Scientology goes beyond mere “guilt by association,” but includes some of the more informed people out there asking the following question:
“why the hell would you [activists against psychiatric abuse], or anyone else, want to work with, or have any kind of relationship, with such a dangerous and fascist type organization? Why should I trust you or believe anything you write about or advocate for?”
I believe people are completely justified in questioning the fundamental judgement of any person or group that decides to work with Scientology or any of their front groups.
And adding to my above post…
If anyone asks me (or anyone else) if I’m ( or they) are associated with Scientology, this is my answer:
“No, Scientology is a very dangerous cult organization, and any attempt by Psychiatry to make this association to me (or the activist group) is an effort to deflect attention away from their multiple crimes and forms of abuse perpetrated against millions of people around the world. Here is a list of those crimes and various forms of abuse…”
I take a different approach. I say, “I thought we were talking about science here? Why would you want to change the subject to religion? If you have scientific data to discuss, I’m happy to do so, but religious affiliations are simply not relevant to this discussion.” I find that even entertaining the subject lets them control the conversation, and I’d much rather point out their sneaky tactics so the public would be aware of them as tactics, rather than focusing on whether or not I am associated with any particular group.
To continue the above dialogue:
“Oh, so you are evading my question about affiliation with Scientology. What are you hiding here? And since when is a group like Scientology, called a religious group. Things I’ve read about them tells me its more than simply attending a church.”
As one can see, your above approach has actually now given the protagonist in this situation even more ways to deflect the discussion (or debate etc.) by not addressing head on the real nature of Scientology.
Nope. I come right back at them with, “Since you’re continuing to deflect attention from the question at hand, I am assuming you have no actual data to counter my argument. Is that correct?” It has never failed to drive the antagonist away or get back on topic. We did this much more aggressively when protesting the APA in Philadelphia, and it worked even better because we had a half a dozen or more simply saying, “Oh, no, you’re not going there!” Your approach may work just as well – that’s just how I approach it.
And then they can still counter with:
“it’s obvious you are hiding something because you refuse to answer the question whether or not you are connected to Scientology.”
Why not be 100% truthful with people AND totally remove Scientology from the discussion by saying:
“No I have zero connection with Scientology and view them as a dangerous cult.”
This completely ends the Scientology deflection, and you now have your protagonists on the defensive if they continue to raise it as an issue.
Steve, my further question to you is: are you somehow leaving the option open for the possibility of working with Scientology or one of their front groups in the future by refusing to label them a dangerous cult?
I believe that giving the Scientology smear ANY play at all simply gives it more force. It’s really clear at this point that any association with the CoS is going to be damaging as it invites this tactic. However, bringing up Scientology is a TACTICAL DISTRACTION and needs to be labeled as such. It’s similar to discounting a person’s opposition to abortion because s/he’s Catholic. It’s not relevant. I not only want to be sure this doesn’t work on me, I want to make sure that it doesn’t work on anyone, and that they think twice before ever bringing it up again. I know that most people are not as willing to be as assertive as I am, and I consider it my responsibility to make sure that everyone watching hears that the Scientology smear is BULLSHIT and will not be tolerated, by me at least.
That’s my view of it. The less energy I give it, the better, but what energy I do will be directly confronting the person using it for evading the issue.
As for the last comment, I’d say, “Well, it appears that I’m talking about data and you’re talking about religion, so if anyone’s got something to hide, it’s you hiding the fact that you have no data to counter my argument.” And I’d restate what I’d said just to make sure we’re clear what the person’s avoiding.
Again, it’s not really failed for me yet. Applicable to any situation where someone’s deflecting from the original topic. The worst that happens is that they look like assholes and I look like an intelligent person of integrity. Which works for me.
The huge difference here and why your analogy does not work, is the fact that Scientology IS NOT a religion. Scientology, by any careful examination, is a dangerous and harmful cult.
Only looking at the single issue of how incredibly difficult (and sometimes involving numerous forms of threats) it is to leave the organization, tells you that Scientology is not in the same category of being a religious organization.
Why accept Scientology’s definition of who they are? They are dangerous cult masquerading as a religion.
You are letting your personal feeling get in the way of rational discussion, Richard. I don’t know why you are so passionate about the CoS, and maybe you have good reason, but the point is, it is being USED as a distraction tactic. The more negative things you say about it in any discussion, the more ammunition you give your antagonist, and the further off topic you go. By berating the Church of Scientology, you are giving credence to the idea that Scientology’s opposition to the Church of Psychiatry is a legitimate reason to doubt any opposition. It doesn’t matter at all who it is they are using as a distraction. They are distracting from the point. Psychiatry is not good or evil based on the beliefs of the person involved. It is evil based on the FACTS, and any distraction from that point is a victory for their allies. It is simply not the appropriate forum for that discussion to happen, and my belief is that we TACTICALLY do much better if we go on the offensive by identifyinig the fact that our antagonist is using smear tactics, instead of defending ourselves against meaningless allegations. That’s my view. You don’t have to agree, but I really don’t think you’re being objective about this question here. You seem to be more looking for a forum to promote your view than the best tactics to stop a distracting attack on a rational critique of psychiatry.
You said: “You are letting your personal feeling get in the way of rational discussion,….You seem to be more looking for a forum to promote your view than the best tactics to stop a distracting attack on a rational critique of psychiatry.”
My position on Scientology (and who we should allow ourselves to be allied with) is quite rational and based on summing up a long history of many prior political movements trying to change the world into a better place. I am not putting any kind of personal agenda above the important political decisions that must be decided in the course of building a successful human rights struggle.
Any serious examination of the history of the movement against psychiatric abuse would reveal that prior associations with Scientology by Thomas Szasz, and more remotely by Peter Breggin, were tactical mistakes that damaged the credibility of their positions and aided our opposition in marginalizing our emerging movement.
It is clear to me that Robert Whitaker and MIA have learned from that history and have made it a point to avoid any associations with Scientology. I wholeheartedly support their approach on this question.
As I stated to Frank in a prior comment, building alliances are important, but we have to draw clear lines of demarcation when it comes to highly dangerous and oppressive groups like Scientology.
You keep referring to Scientology as a “church” in your comments and I don’t ever remember you calling them a cult. This only serves to minimize their danger and add some sort of legitimacy to their claim of being in their essence a religious organization.
Scientology has enormous financial reserves, large real estate holdings, and powerful legal teams propping up and defending the reputation and legitimacy of their organization. Unfortunately, they will not be going away for a long time.
And as our movement grows in strength, the question of how to deal with Scientology will more often come forward as a burning question to be decided in the early stages for any emerging activist group fighting psychiatric abuse. It is very important that we get clear on this now or future mistakes will be made that set us back.
Steve, you said in a prior comment the following: “…There MAY [my emphasis] be a number of things wrong with Scientology…”.
To me this puts forward, at best, an agnostic position about the true nature of Scientology. Please read some of the personal accounts and internal documents related to this organization’s history and practice. They have destroyed many lives and do enormous harm to people and their families.
Steve, I have always admired your positions at MIA. You are clearly better than this sort of agnosticism on such a vital question.
I think you’re missing the point.
I’m not going to make a blanket condemnation of a group based on rumors and anecdotes under any circumstances. The US government and most governments of the world have acknowledged them as a religious organization, and the Scientologists I’ve gotten to know seem no more bizarre or extreme than members of other fundamentalist religious groups – I have a harder time with fundamentalist Christians, to be honest with you.
But even if Scientology were a devil cult, I’d still take the same approach. The point is not whether or not Scientology is evil, but how to handle an attack against one’s integrity. Let’s say that someone accused you of being biased because you’re a Szaz follower. What would you do then? Maybe you’d tell them you think Szaz was the bomb, or say that you don’t agree with everything he said, or say that he was way off base – and guess what? You’re talking about Szaz and not psychiatry and you’ve been diverted. THAT is my point. Why give fuel to the idea that your personal belief system is relevant when we’re talking about the legitimacy of psychiatric diagnoses and how research contradicts their version of reality?
Actually, this conversation is a great example. We stopped talking about Freud and antipsychiatry a long time back. Though of course, I’m always more interested in off-topic discussions with someone of intelligence and perspective such as yourself, so I don’t mind. But if we allow someone attacking us to change the subject, IMHO, I believe we’ve done ourselves a great disservice. The use of ANY group association as a means of trying to degrade my status is unacceptable to me, and I make sure that any attempt to do so is dealt with firmly and directly. That’s my view. Like I said, you can take your own approach, but I don’t buy that it’s a requirement to agree to the depredations of Scientology in order to challenge someone’s use of smear tactics to distract from the point at hand.
If anyone thinks that the “Scientology question” isn’t a diversion should look at what has happened to this thread.
And now Lawrence says:
Often when I explain my views about psychiatry to people, I am met with jokes about whether I am affiliated with the CS.
If they made juvenile jokes about your appearance or called you “boogerman” would you be equally dismayed?
An excellent question, Oldhead. One would not feel the need to deny one’s “boogerheadedness” and assure the attacker that one is categorically opposed to “boogerheadedness” to label the attack as an immature avoidance of the question at hand.
I’m more interested in abolishing forced treatment than I am in finding reasons to be divisive and conquered (i.e. defeatist). I’m also not looking for any reasons not to be working with anybody who opposes forced treatment. I know that there is this way people have of equating antipsychiatry with Scientology as a way of bashing one, or the other, or both. Also, I’m aware there are people who say I can’t work with you because you’re a rightist or you’re a liberal. I’m not like that. I think the important thing is to abolish non-consensual coercive psychiatry. I’m not willing to exclude anybody who wants to play a part in abolishing non-consensual coercive psychiatry from doing so. If we’re supposed to be in the business of ‘cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face”, please, count me out. They say there’s power in numbers. Okay, you reduce the numbers. I’m not going to do so.
Where do you draw the line? Does that mean you would work with the KKK or a similar type group if they wanted to oppose forced treatment?
I’m all for building alliances, but there has to be some lines drawn when it comes to certain political groups or ideology.
We’re not talking about working with Scientology, anyone who is misses the important point here, which Steve has been holding to very consistently. What we’re talking about is falling into a trap of getting defensive any time anti-psychiatry is equated with Scientology. This makes us look “guilty,” when all we need to do is ask why they are changing the subject with an absurd question.
I’ll rephrase my original statement: Suppose the KKK took an anti-psychiatry stand — would we then be expected to get flustered, apologize and fall all over ourselves desperately trying to prove that anti-psychiatry isn’t racist? If the KKK claimed to be an organization of Christians should we dismiss all Christians as racists and expect anyone who identifies as Christian to compulsively deny being part of the KKK?
Unless people have conflicts of their own regarding all this I don’t see why the whole “problem” can’t be dismissed with an eye roll.
Well, I oppose killing people in mental institutions, too. NAZI Germany practiced for its final solution to the Jewish problem on people in mental institutions.
Who would you prefer to work with, NAMI or the Church of Scientology? NAMI is all for forced institutionalization. I’ve seen the CCHR take actions where others would be fain to do so, and actions that I would fully support.
I would work with the CCHR before I would work with NAMI. NAMI has no reservations about taking drug company money. I guess that’s where I draw the line.
Did NAMI want to make some kind of deal to abolish forced treatment, no go. They’d be playing us the way Hitler played Stalin when the two made a non-aggression pact.
Think about where Scientology gets its money? What is the essence of the relationship that its members have with the Mother organization?
According to former members, it is the exact opposite of freedom, and based on “higher forms” of mind control backed by multiple forms of emotional trauma and at times physical abuse.
I’m less concerned, Richard, with where Scientology gets their money from than where they stand vis a vis forced treatment. I mean if Scientology can come out against psychiatric slavery, whoopee! As for cult slavery, that’s another bag entirely, and one that isn’t really relevant to the subject at hand.
Let me clarify my position a little. I don’t think we’ve got the numbers we need, not being an exclusive club, and I’m not averse to working with anybody who will work with me on the objective of abolishing coercive psychiatry. I don’t see a need to provide a checklist that says if you do this or that, or if you feel this way or that way, or if you vote this way or that, etc., that I can’t work with you. This is a matter of simple pragmatism. Also, when I say we don’t have the numbers we need, having been present at a few demonstrations, Scientology can often put on a better show numerically than we can. As for the alleged cult accusation, I’m not out to prevent anybody from learning by experience either. Of course, it helps to research your subject before you make any foolish leaps, but that should go without saying. Sacrifices have been a part of the human experience since time immemorial.
I can’t believe you have missed the point I am making here.
Frank says he will work with anybody (regardless of their political beliefs or actions) who opposes forced treatment.
I have repeatedly stated that certain lines (as to who we can unite with) need to drawn when doing this work, and that Scientology and their front groups represents one of those lines.
So Oldhead, please answer the following question: if the KKK opposed forced treatment, would you agree to work with them? And if not, why not?
You said: “What we’re talking about is falling into a trap of getting defensive any time anti-psychiatry is equated with Scientology.”
Tell me, how the hell is it being defensive to tell someone the following statement?
“No, we have no connections to Scientology; we believe they are a dangerous cult. And why are you using Scientology to divert this discussion?”
I’d say that is both a very TRUTHFUL and OFFENSIVE response.
And it is simply comprised of just 2 short sentences, with a total of 24 words. It completely ends the Scientology discussion once and for all.
And BTW, not everyone who raises the issue of Scientology is trying to misdirect a discussion. Many people have heard that Scientology is somehow connected to the anti-psychiatry movement and may honestly want to know if this particular group is somehow connected. To view these inquiries as always contentious, and thus avoid answering the question, also creates more problems.
The simplest solution is to be upfront and truthful in the briefest way possible by saying:
“No, Scientology is a dangerous cult and I (and/or “we”) don’t associate with them”
End of story; issue resolved!!!
People who can’t or won’t make the above statement now confront either of the following issues:
1) They have not correctly summed up the negative role of Scientology in the history of the movement against psychiatric abuse.
2) Remain agnostic about the true nature of Scientology and don’t see the importance of understanding their true role in the world.
3) Fall into a potentially dangerous form of pragmatism (of seeking harmful allies) when it comes to developing a political strategy to end psychiatric abuse.
4) Are apologists and/or sympathizers with Scientology (having not done appropriate investigation into the above points).
5) Or, they are outright members of Scientology and are hiding their affiliation.
People who believe this is a distracting issue, or somehow not important enough to discuss at this time, don’t understand how pervasive Scientology (and all the issues associated with them) will become as our movement progresses beyond its current level of infancy.
I’ve had people from the Florida CCHR show up at a demonstration I had organized. Whether or not they were members of the Church of Scientology never entered into any discussion we had. I’m not telling anybody, “Sorry, go home. We won’t have anything to do with you because of this organization, church, or what have you, you are associated with.” There were also a couple of counter demonstrators at the event, but they weren’t anti-Scientology, they were pro-shock. Had these CCHR people not been with us, we would have had less of an impact than we did. Again, we’re back to NAMI. I see more problems with working with NAMI than I do with working with the CoS. How about you? Where are you with working with NAMI members? NAMI is really pervasive in my neck of the woods. Shouldn’t we be doing something about them?
I would never suggest we should tell Scientology people to “go home” if they show up at a demo. If they tried to take over the character of the event by rushing to the front with their banners or some other such action, I would call them out as being “opportunist”, and make every effort to move away from their presence in the particular event.
I am ,however, definitely saying that we should do everything possible to not have them involved in or to become a part of any organizational apparatus. This probably, by necessity, involves having organizational discussions, and/or a set of principles of unity, that carefully outlines who we will, or will not, work with in our organizational strategy.
And of course, we should answer, honestly, any and all inquiries (briefly, as I mentioned above) that people might raise about our affiliation with any group, especially, Scientology.
As for NAMI LEADERS, I don’t believe they would want to show up at any demonstrations or events that target Psychiatry. And if the leaders did show up, their presence at the event would most likely be as a counter action AGAINST us.
As for NAMI RANK AND FILE members, I would hope for them to show up, for it would be an opportunity to expose and educate these people about the harmful nature of Psychiatry and those organizations (like MAMI) conspiring with and “enabling” the Psychiatric/Pharmaceutical/Industrial/Complex.
I don’t see it, Richard. I wouldn’t blacklist CoS members for their affiliation. I can see them becoming involved with organizations without any sort of take over, and if take overs were considered, they could be prevented anyway. I apparently don’t have the same CoS alert and alarm system that you do. I am more concerned about doing something about forced treatment, drugging, and electro-shock.
The CCHR has it’s own demonstrations, and I’ve seen people take part in survivor demonstrations and CCHR demonstrations, too. I don’t see any problem with that, or there.
As Al Galves put it once, and referring to the CoS, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. I think we’ve got enough sense to respect polite boundaries. The CoS is not my enemy. Maybe it is yours, in which case, you can deal with that in any way you see fit.
Freud is an unmitigated disaster in world history, and may be considered one of the major founders of the system of oppression, torture, and abuse that is now considered to be a legitimate field of medicine, namely psychiatry.
DS, psychiatry was well-established long before Freud. To what do you refer? I think your usually spot-on analysis is a little off-course here. Some documentation might help the discussion.
Of course “psychiatry” was well established long before Freud, but Freud was pivotal in the project of legitimizing the medicalization of every day life. Charcot, Freud, Mesmer, Kraeplin, Bleuler… these are a few of the miscreants whom Szasz correctly identifies at the base of the house of cards that is modern psychiatry. Szasz’s Psychiatry: The Science of Lies is one of his best books on this topic. It’s really sickening to me that anyone would want to vindicate Freud at the expense of so many victims of psychiatry.
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I definitely agree that some of the Freud’s theories were breakthrough, probably valid and changed the field forever.
I myself could say that without psychodynamic books (like Murray Jackson’s work at isps.org), I wouldn’t be alive today.
However there are many problems with psychoanalysis. Like the classical analysis (‘lay down on the coach’ with distant analyst who gives interpretations). There are also currently like a hundred different schools of psychoanalysis.
Also you can easily find out that e.g. Winnicott, Melanie Klein and Lacan’s ideas are contradicting each other in many ways. So the question is – which way to use?
In order to go through my schizo-affective problems I was just reading everything, especially clinical cases and tried to extract ‘whatever works’. It helped and it helped tremendously, but could I extrapolate? I doubt so.
I need to point out also that Freudian and Jungs work is the basis of the language in which you can understand psychotic symptoms. Freudian-based analysis of psychosis is the way to extract traumatic events which you relieve in psychosis, and Jungian ideas helps to extract some common material e.g. ‘spiritual dimension’ the way which unconscious works and of what it is consists.
Otherwise you just throw all the psychotic material out and claim that this is ‘random firing of neurons’.
Finally, I don’t disagree completely with biologists – given that you don’t have immortal soul, all your experiences technically must happen somewhere inside your brain, however it’s probably not possible to determine the mapping.
I would say that any person need to be worked from 3 angles:
1. Past trauma and history.
2. Working with family and peer relationships.
3. Some kind of cbt like critical and logical thinking.
you can talk all you want but biology will not go away…from the littleturtle….the way you eat and exercise is crucial for brain health….and brain health is crucial for mind health…healthy habits are absolutely necessary and should not be pushed away from the discussion…bio/psych/soc
Well put, littleturtle.
I have to agree with many of the points raised by Steve McCrea and Slaying the Dragon.
The people who one promotes as role models and/or to be emulated, has great moral and political significance in the world. An overall evaluation of the historical role of Freud would definitely lead to a conclusion that he caused FAR MORE harm than good.
Lawrence, while I have supported many of your blogs, and gave you much kudos for a recent comment where you took a position for the abolition of Psychiatry (the very first psychiatrist at MIA to take such a position), this blog seems to resurrect some reasons to preserve a piece of Psychiatry for its ability to practice psychoanalysis.
We all need to read, and/or reread Jeffrey Masson’s books where he has made a devastating critique of the political legacy of Sigmund Freud and discussed many of the power imbalances related to practicing therapy.
As Steve pointed out, Freud totally betrayed ALL his female clients by disbelieving their sexual abuse narratives, and his cowardice in the face of criticism by colleagues (for originally writing about about high instances of female sexual abuse) leading to his unscientific and thoroughly sexist theories, has been a total disaster to both women and men around the world. We cannot underestimate the damage this has caused.
To defend and promote Freud in today’s world is the political equivalent of minimizing the overall harm caused by Harvey Weinstein, by somehow saying he produced a few good movies over his lifetime.
And Slaying the Dragon, while Thomas Szasz made enormous contributions to the anti-psychiatry movement, he was not without significant political shortcomings that actually short circuited the growth of the anti-psychiatry movement coming out of the 1960’s.
I did not mean to suggest that there is a need for psychiatry to practice Freudian therapy. I agree with Freud – that psychiatrists are likely to make worse therapists than other people due to the rigidity developed during their medical training, and due to the authoritative, god-like attitude that often develops in doctors’ psyches. I did not even mean to suggest that people should get psychotherapy – to each his own. I merely suggested that we make use of what Freud has to offer to our society, despite his many serious, unforgivable flaws (just as we accept Thomas Jefferson’s democratic ideals even though he had slaves). I believe that the medical model’s widespread acceptance has dangerously put our country into a state of denial and helplessness, which calls for a Freudian-type analysis of our society itself, not its individuals. What is most important is that we succeed in our movement, and this might require allying ourselves with people whom we dislike or have some disagreements with, since they share our overall beliefs and common cause.
this blog seems to resurrect some reasons to preserve a piece of Psychiatry for its ability to practice psychoanalysis.
No, because psychoanalysis does not require a medical degree today.
And Slaying the Dragon, while Thomas Szasz made enormous contributions to the anti-psychiatry movement, he was not without significant political shortcomings that actually short circuited the growth of the anti-psychiatry movement coming out of the 1960’s.
Szasz did not identify with anti-psychiatry and was not a “leader” of the movement so I can’t really go along with that. However he did have some right-wing sympathies. As with many of the assertions throughout this discussion, some elaboration/documentation would be helpful.
Whether or not psychoanalysis requires a medical degree, does not take away from the point that some current “Critical Psychiatry” people use it as one justification to continue Psychiatry as a medical specialty.
And whether or not Szasz chose to label himself as anti-psychiatry (which he did not) does not mean that he was not part of an emerging anti-psychiatry movement.
Certainly he provided some very penetrating and devastating critiques of psychiatry and the medical Model that still form some of the political and philosophical foundations for our future movement. Of course, his many political blind spots, as Frank has started to elucidate, undermined his ability to take things much further. That subject would make the basis of a very important book to be published in the future.
some current “Critical Psychiatry” people use it as one justification to continue Psychiatry as a medical specialty
Why is everyone basing their statements on avoiding what other people mistakenly believe? Keep repeating the truth — it does eventually have an effect! Psychoanalysis is not a branch of medicine OR psychiatry, so any such contention among “critical psychiatrists” would be clearly invalid.
Szasz’s political beliefs are largely irrelevant — we don’t study his politics but his unparalleled deconstruction of psychiatry and the medical model. All these criticisms about his “tactics” seem to assume that he was approaching all this from the mindset of a political organizer, which is erroneous. That’s our job.
Theoretically Thomas Szasz indeed did make contributions to antipsychiatry, however, in his efforts to distance himself from antipsychiatry he practically undid all those contributions. I’m talking here about Antipsychiatry: Quackery Squared. One villian of A: QS is R.D. Laing, perhaps the most famous critical or alternative psychiatrist of them all, who like Szasz, didn’t identify with antipsychiatry. The other villain is leftist ideology. Szasz criticism of Laing is very interesting. Laing is a fraud in Szasz eyes. Laing is such a bad example of humanity, in Szasz eyes, that ad hominem arguments apply. At least, from Szasz perspective. I think there is a more appropriate criticism to be aimed at Laing and many of his associates that makes more sense, and that is that they were seriously infected with the paternalism that excuses forced treatment, and that pervades psychiatry in general. On the other hand, here is Thomas Szasz launching into a tirade against all these professionals who were doing something other than the bio-psychiatry mainstream thing, just like he himself. Who, the question becomes, would he be allying himself with in this case? Or rather, doing so, could be read as a way of saying bio-psychiatry was less a matter of quackery than critical, etc., psychiatry, a message with which I would have to seriously disagree. He gives them, organized bio-psychiatry, that excuse anyway. In doing so, he, Thomas Szasz, is also one of these figures whose rhetoric could supply fuel to the alt right movement that came out of the woodwork with the ascendancy of Donald Trump. I find that a little disturbing, to say the least.
There is so much confusion regarding Szasz because very few people reads his works, but everyone has opinions about them. Naturally Szasz did not identify with the so-called “antipsychiatry” movement of his time because it was riddled with contradictions such as Laing’s confused ideologies. Richard is actually right here. Szasz did not label himself as “antipsychiatry,” but he was indisputably one of the best leaders in the battle against psychiatry. Even though he was much too libertarian for my taste, he was more politically and philosophically astute than anyone that I have read thus far on MIA, which isn’t exactly a high bar. Szasz was right about Laing and the left, just as he was right about psychiatry, the science of lies.
But setting political differences aside, I completely agree that the worn-out Scientology trope is a distraction. I might side with Frank here in considering that anyone who opposes psychiatry must have some inkling of the truth. Whatever his quirks, Tom Cruise is right about psychiatry. But all of this goes back to the whole problem with the self-appointed gurus of psychiatry who think that they are running the show. No matter how much psychiatric apologists attempt to dismiss Szasz or the sound reasoning of those who oppose psychiatry, their arguments will eventually fail because they have no basis in reality. The con artists who promote psychiatry and its reign of terror have no leg to stand on. The cry of “Scientology” this, or “conspiracy theory” that is a feeble attempt defend the indefensible. There is nothing theoretical about the vast amount of harm that psychiatry has caused throughout its loathsome history. The truth is that most people are pro-liberty, pro-reason, pro-good. It is psychiatry that is anti-liberty, anti-reason, anti-good. I oppose psychiatry as a natural outgrowth of my love of liberty, and I believe that Szasz was also a lover of liberty.
Meanwhile, as we debate these issues, there are untold numbers of people who are being enslaved by psychiatry. In his book “Psychiatric Slavery,” Szasz points out that in some ways, psychiatric slavery is worse than the chattel slavery of the south:
“A comparison of involuntary servitude and involuntary psychiatry makes one realize that in at least one respect the practical situation of those who wanted to abolish chattel slavery was more favorable than is the practical situation of those who want to abolish psychiatric slavery. Slavery was recognized as a condition inflicted by one person on another. The slaveholders could therefore never evade the responsibility for having slaves and for the condition of slavery. They could not credibly claim that blackness was some sort of mysterious disease for which slavery was the cure – although Benjamin Rush insisted that Negritude was a form of congenital leprosy, and Samuel Cartwright maintained that Negro slaves escaped to the free states not because they preferred liberty to servitude but because they suffered from ‘drapetomania,’ a mental illness that made them run away.” (p. 74)
Whatever his flaws, Szasz was lightyears ahead of his time.
I don’t think one could legitimately pigeonhole R.D. Laing a leftist. Laing was actually using the closing of institutions during the Reagan years against some of his leftist colleagues who had other ideas about how to achieve de-institutionalization. He had more to do with this idea of spiritual emergence, out of which you get the Stanislav Goff edited collection, Spiritual Emergency.
Completely agree about Szasz though in the sense that he was always, and adamantly so, against non-consensual coercive psychiatry. When people were fighting for freedom from psychiatry, Thomas Szasz was with them, and on their side. This is certainly not the case with so many others, including Laing, and many of his associates.
Szasz points out that in some ways, psychiatric slavery is worse than the chattel slavery of the south
No, you’re misreading your own quote. (And I’m glad, since if Szasz had said that then it would have been racist.) Szasz was comparing the practical/tactical situations presented to abolitionists in the 19th Century vs. that of a present day psychiatric abolitionist. He was not claiming psychiatry was worse than chattel slavery, in any way.
Szasz has a lot more to say about psychiatric slavery in his book by that title. While I certainly abhor chattel slavery, it would have been made worse if slaves were drugged, electroshocked, insulin shocked, and lobotomized. I didn’t misread the quote, I just interpreted it in the following way: psychiatric slavery is in some ways worse than chattel slavery because at least with chattel slavery it was apparent that it was evil and needed to be abolished. Psychiatric slavery, on the other hand, poses as a positive good. Southern plantation owners may have tried to promote chattel slavery as a positive good, but such theories didn’t pass muster for anyone blessed with a minimal degree of moral sense. The practical situation of the abolitionist of psychiatric slavery is in some ways worse than that of the abolitionist of chattel slavery because the former fights against a system that has managed to gain ascendancy as a positive good. It is a new form of tyranny that operates with the approval of the tyrants’ own conscience. Szasz’s comparison between chattel slavery and psychiatric slavery is not limited to the comparison between the situations of 19th century abolitionists and psychiatric abolitionists. Both chattel slavery and psychiatric slavery are evil, but only the former has been abolished. Of course there are real differences between them, which Szasz acknowledges. Nevertheless, there is at least one clear way in which psychiatric slavery is worse than chattel slavery: psychiatric slavery has yet to be abolished.
Can psychiatrists rape their patients? Can they breed their patients? Can they brand their patients? Can they horsewhip their patients? Can they buy and sell their patients as property? Your argument is as distasteful as it is weak, and what makes it especially obnoxious is that you are obviously 100% certain of its correctness.
I wouldn’t be so fast, uprising, to think things got better with psychiatric slavery. I have heard about an incident during the 19th century where a man was castrated for running away from a psychiatric asylum in the south. (Castration had also been used in the 19th century to prevent masturbation considered in some quarters a cause of madness.) Another person suggested that perhaps this escapee was of color, sheer speculation as it is something that had not been stated, but quite possible. I’ve also seen insinuations that early doctors might have had sexual relations with some of their patients. Were a patient raped by a medical doctor, who are the legal authorities going to believe? The raving crazy person, or this reputable member of the community? When people in the institutions are not even allowed a legitimate voice, there are all sorts of things that go on in those institutions that shouldn’t. Even today you get sexual abuse from mental health workers who get off with little more than a knuckle rapping because people incarcerated in such institutions have no clout and are thought of as less ‘worthy’ than the rest of the nation.
Uprising, can psychiatrists rape their patients? Not only can they, but they do. There is an entire website dedicated to exposing the crimes of psychiatrists. It’s actually quite interesting. Check it out if you like. http://www.psychsearch.net/ There’s also this site: http://www.psychcrime.org/. So, in short, the answer to your question is yes.
Can psychiatrists breed their patients? I’m sure that many have thought of it. The concept is not foreign to psychiatry, since much of the psychiatric mindset emerged from Nazi Germany wherein genetic experimentation was common. Eugenics and psychiatry go hand in hand.
Can psychiatrists brand their patients? The branding is done by means of the DSM-V, and the labels are very harmful. In some cases it may be more difficult to erase the stigma from a psychiatric label than hide branding on the skin.
Can psychiatrists horsewhip their patients? While I certainly don’t condone anything practiced by southern slave owners, in some cases a wound from a horsewhip would heal more quickly than the brain damage that is caused by psychiatric drugging, torture, and abuse.
Can psychiatrists buy and sell their patients as property? In effect, that is what psychiatrists do best. Patients are bounced around from one psychiatrist to another, from one drug to another, from one diagnosis to another, while psychiatrists rake in the money. Anyone who has seen the inside of a psych ward knows that patients are the property of psychiatrists.
My argument is neither distasteful nor weak. Nor is it obnoxious, but your response to it certainly is. Thomas Szasz wrote a couple of books on the topic of slavery and psychiatry. He was correct in his assessments, which I commend to your attention and to that of the MIA readership in general.
So in other words, no – psychiatrists can’t do any of those things to their “patients.”
Uprising, feel free to make an argument if you like. Apparently you don’t think that there is anything to be gained from a discussion of psychiatric slavery as it relates to chattel slavery. If your argument measures up to Szasz’s very persuasive and well articulated arguments in his book “Psychiatric Slavery,” it may be worth considering.
Richard, cordially I disagree with you about Szasz’s political short comings. He was a bit too libertarian for my taste, but at least he based his political thinking on this truth: to be fully human means to be free and responsible, and freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. There is no need to hash out our political disagreements here, since we agree on the fundamental facts regarding Freud and the harm that is done in the name of psychiatry. Suffice it to say that Szasz libertarianism would provide a very beneficial counterbalance to much of the radical progressivism that seems bent on dominating the antipsychiatry movement.
Libertarian was a term that originated with the far left and that has been appropriated by moderates and rightists. Language though is neutral, and anybody is welcome to use any word any way they see fit as long as they don’t obscure its true definition.
Where is “radical progressivism” dominating “the antipsychiatry movement”? Actually, it seems there is way too much of this reactionary sentiment (in some measure, thanks to Thomas Szasz) in some antipsychiatry quarters in the USA.
I think radicals and conservatives should ally in their fight against the enemy they have in common, that is, coercive psychiatry. They can bicker about political differences on subjects they do disagree on.
Where is “radical progressivism” dominating “the antipsychiatry movement”?
Good question; could Dragon Slayer be referring to MIA’s tepid liberalism? For that matter where is this anti-psychiatry movement?
Call it tepid liberalism if you like. I’m basically referring to the nonsensical anti-capitalist, anti-American, feminist, progressive, liberal undercurrent that informs too much of the conversation on MIA. But that can be set aside as we focus on the important goal of the abolition of psychiatry.
OK you’re getting just as bad with the labels as those you are attacking. I doubt you can define any of those terms.
First of all, I’m not attacking people. I’m dissecting false ideologies. I can define all of those terms, and outline the history of their origins and etymologies, but I’m not going to come down to your level on this one.
I’m all in favor of setting aside political differences in the quest to abolish psychiatry, since psychiatry is by definition coercive.
Fighting psychiatry is a political matter, so political differences cannot be “set aside.” However they can be recognized, and, within reason, we can identify the bottom line positions which can unite a broad spectrum of otherwise divergent ideologies in the struggle against psychiatry. Even this is hard enough, so it would be naïve to think that there can ever be unity on a macrocosmic level, nor should that be our goal. But however one defines an oppressive system, eliminating psychiatry takes away one of its major tools.
Liberals tend to be supporters of “mental health parity” and other means of increasing funding for psychiatry and its allied forces. What support I have seen politically has come from the libertarian right. There is a small sliver of progressive activists, most of whom have had “services” from the “mental health” system, who are trying to take on psychiatry, but it’s definitely not a “progressive” thing at all. Though it really should be, if human rights and addressing oppression are their supposed goals.
Richard – This discussion reminds me a little bit of the debate over the historical statues in the U.S…..should we abandon Washington on the dollar bill because he and his wife had slaves? Take down all the statues of generals on horses for the same reason? Or should there perhaps be an added, revisionist plaque nearby? Freud no doubt needs such an addendum….as for Scientology, though I would never have worked with them – despite their wanting me to during my advocacy days in D.C. – and despite being labelled a Scientologist more than once for the positions I took at FDA hearings, etc., I will say that when “we” worked to make prescription drugs safer (FDA PDUFA – 2006, for one example) and other mighty (failed) causes, there were usually only TWO organizations lobbying for “our” side – CCHR and Consumer Union.
Thanks for your response.
You said ” I merely suggested that we make use of what Freud has to offer to our society, despite his many serious, unforgivable flaws (just as we accept Thomas Jefferson’s democratic ideals even though he had slaves). I believe that the medical model’s widespread acceptance has dangerously put our country into a state of denial and helplessness, which calls for a Freudian-type analysis of our society itself, not its individuals. What is most important is that we succeed in our movement, and this might require allying ourselves with people whom we dislike or have some disagreements with, since they share our overall beliefs and common cause.”
Rather than seeking a “Freudian-type analysis of our society” (which would be ultimately reactionary), we would be much better off with a neo-Marxian analysis which would sum up the strengths and weaknesses within the first round of socialist revolutions in the world that were ultimately defeated.
And by the way, don’t count me in as one who defends Jefferson’s so-called “democratic ideals” which are not unlike conditions in ancient Greece where there was some semblance of “democracy” built upon a slave society.
There is no such thing as real democracy in class based capitalist society. The existence of voting in the American economic and political system system covers over and obscures the brutal forms of human exploitation that have enabled the U.S. to achieve its number one Imperialist power position in the world. Not the least of these forms of exploitation was the first 100 years of economic growth that launched the U.S. empire on the backs of several million African slaves. Today there exists several different types of “higher forms” of human slavery, that hold back the overall of development of progress in human society.
Today there exists several different types of “higher forms” of human slavery, that hold back the overall of development of progress in human society.
Can you name one? 🙂
wage slavery, debt slavery
Prostitution and the sex trade often involve literal slavery.
“Slavery, Capitalism & the Orwellian Ideology of Freedom to Justify Exploitation”
The one I was referring to begins with a “P.”
Another would clearly be the sharecropping system in the South that immediately followed the end of the Civil War. While Black people were no longer slaves, they were still enslaved to the remnants of the plantation system in a highly exploitative relationship with the large land owners. President Jackson removed the troops from the South which opened the door for the emerging KKK to run amuck and terrorize the people.
Thank you for that correction.
Good point Richard. We can learn from this history, since it also pertains to the post-psychiatry future.
Read about the Jim Crowe laws that were enacted after the Civil War. Clearly speaks to how the South intended to keep black people oppressed, something that lasted until the 1960’s I believe.
BTW, that was an excellent video that you referenced above – should be viewed by all MIA readers.
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Claiming or even suggesting that there is a literal equivalence between psychiatry and American chattel slavery is incorrect and in fact preposterous, and to do so plays directly into the hands of those who would try to eliminate ALL discussion of the slavery/psychiatry relationship. Psychiatry can legitimately be discussed as one form of slavery among many, or in terms of shared internal dynamics between psychiatry and slavery. But to directly equate the literal horrors of southern slavery with those of psychiatry falls short every time, both logically and morally, and confuses a very important issue, understandably leading some who are so predisposed to conclude that anti-psychiatry itself is racist.
Another bit of confusion is found in the frequent use of the term “slavery analogy,” a term which implies one is saying that psychiatry is “like” slavery; i.e. “psychiatry is to x as slavery is to y.” However all discussions of psychiatry and slavery are not analogies; the most relevant in my view involve the analysis that psychiatry has always been part & parcel of the apparatus of American slavery, from Benjamin Rush on, and, as part of the prison system, represents one continuation of slavery in a new form. I repeat a quote from Angela Davis and Mumia Abu-Jamal regarding this theme as pertaining to prisons; our job is to make sure psychiatry is routinely acknowledged and cited as being part of the prison system:
The movement to abolish slavery, which many activists cite today in the prison context, was a bold and daring project. Those bold men and women transformed America by fighting for social change—and refusing to submit to a slavocracy.
The great abolitionist (and ex-slave) Frederick Douglass captured this theme brilliantly when he said: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”
Great quote Old Head. Indeed, Douglass was and is a hero. He was a bold abolitionist, and as the quote indicates, an escaped slave. The claim is not that there is a literal equivalence between chattel slavery and psychiatry, since the context is different and the form is also different. Nevertheless, the comparison is useful insofar as people understand the underlying similarity, namely, innocent people deprived of liberty. Psychiatry is a form of slavery among many forms of slavery, as was chattel slavery in the South. If Frederick Douglass were alive today, and if he understood the history of psychiatry, I’m sure that he would just as adamantly seek to eradicate psychiatric slavery. The claim that antipsychiatry is racist is preposterous, just as many modern cries of racism are preposterous. But you make an excellent point about Benjamin Rush and psychiatry’s direct involvement in chattel slavery from the beginning. Rush was the father of American psychiatry, and he is complicit in the death of the father of this country, George Washington.
Dragon Slayer — Glad to see you stepping back a little, or at least clarifying your position, as some of your statements clearly imply that you are claiming such an equivalence. My point is that such a position WOULD be racist if we were to take it and that it would be easy for people to infer as a result that the movement as a whole is racist, with some justification. I am aware that you genuinely admire Frederick Douglass, something a conscious racist would never say; but I wish you would consider how some are ready to interpret your statements and pay more attention to how you articulate them.
As you may have noticed, this conversation is not being deleted, as similar ones have been of late. I have spent a lot of energy here and risked some credibility disavowing the claim that people who speak of psychiatric slavery are unable to distinguish between the current odious reign of psychiatry and its “treatments” and the routine, business-as-usual practices of whipping, castration, rape and murder — not that these are unheard of today, but they would be considered serious crimes, not something psychiatrists can do by right. So, let’s avoid giving anyone a pretext for stopping the conversation.
don’t forget BIOLOGY…it can come back to bite you…from littleturtle….
remember the problem with pellagra early in the 20th century in the south..
Hi littleturtle: Biology does affect our mental states. As you say, severe vitamin deficiencies, etc., can affect the brain, but the vitamin deficiencies need to be quite severe, otherwise we will see almost everyone having mental problems. In any case, if mental issues were merely a case of vitamin deficiencies, all that everyone has to do it to take a daily multivitamin pill.
Here at MIA, people do not deny that biology plays a role. What they are attempting to address is that many psychiatrists blame the brain (biology) for almost ALL the mental issues listed in the DSM – then as a result, they prescribe medicines that the pharmaceutical companies come up with. Now, the pharmaceutical companies come up with these medicines on a ‘hit or miss’ basis (although they provide complicated neuro-jargon explanations to justify how these pills work). Additionally, because pharmaceutical companies mostly have profits in mind, the trials they conduct (to demonstrate the effectiveness of these pills) are known to have a great deal of selective reporting, data mischaracterization, etc. For a few people these pills may work due to the placebo effect but many endure terrible life-long side effects (as described in several MIA blogs).
Think of it this way: When you disturb a natural system by adding an agent (molecular substance) that YOU interpret as the problem for the issue at hand, you create many additional problems – many of these chemicals that are introduced (in the name of “therapeutic agents”) interfere with normal biochemical functioning of the brain and adversely affect the brain in the long term.
Alternatively, as described in the resent MIA blog “Psychotherapy is THE Biological Treatment,” – there is a great deal of evidence that it is HUMAN EXPERIENCE that brings about structural changes in the brain (and these changes are reversible). This is why we prefer to put aside biology and focus on the field of psychology.
Little Turtle: I’d add to this that Big Pharma and psychiatry actually INVENT diseases to seel their products. The best example is “Social Anxiety Disorder.” Some Paxil experiment suggested that people were less shy while taking Paxil. So the APA and drug companies got together and decided that shyness could be added as a disease and Paxil would then be prescribed to “treat” it. Childhood bipolar disorder is another one. There is solid documentation that Joseph Biedermann colluded with Johnson and Johnson to create “data” that would support the idea that millions of children were “bipolar” and needed “treatment” with Johnson and Johnson’s drugs.
I am sure you would find this to be a problem. But the problem is much bigger than these two examples – the entire DSM is filled with such speculative “disorders,” and the creators of the DSM III made clear statements at the time that moving to an “atheoretical” categorization was the intent (in other words, they no longer cared about the CAUSES of these “disorders”) and the reason for this was so they could claim a larger share of the market, not because there was some scientific advantage to using the DSM categories. The DSM was invented to bill insurance companies – it’s not based on any kind of science at all. Again, it’s not that folks like you and me don’t suffer from emotional/mental problems, and it’s not that biology doesn’t play a role – loss of sleep, for instance, can cause psychosis eventually, and thyroid problems can lead to depression and lethargy. But categorizing shyness or aggressiveness or not liking to sit still in a boring classroom as “diseases” is not only not scientific, it’s intentionally misleading and destructive, as it prevents real analysis of causes and solutions, including biological ones, from happening.
The DSM is literally, a catalog of billing codes.
I like your addition. By the way, I think most sleep problems result from primarily psychological issues rather than biological (although lack of sleep can secondarily contribute to biological changes). Various psychological habits can be useful to aid sleep as well – one of my favorites is what is known as “loving-kindness meditation” (one can google and find out how this meditation practice is carried out).
Dear Dr. Kelmenson,
I want to start with saying that I welcome as many perspectives as possible. I will also offer that I can easily accept you are a man of decency who has helped many individuals. So what follows is an intellectual, not personal, response.
I agree that Freud was a critical psychiatrist in the sense that he challenged the established orthodoxy of his time. But I have noticed, as I have spoken out more as a critical psychiatrist, that many who consider themselves in alignment with me are those who practice some form of psychoanalytic or psychodynamic psychiatry and are embittered by having been forced out of power and influence by the current dominant paradigm. I find this ironic since my career as a critical psychiatrist began in many ways when I became disillusioned with psychoanalysis.
When you write that people assert psychoanalysis is debunked because we have identified biological causes of the disorders we treat, I would argue this is not the reason psychoanalysis has come under scrutiny. It has more to do, in my opinion, with the fact that it is nearly impossible to challenge its assertions. It is a closed loop – if a patient accepts an interpretation, then it is considered validation, if a patient rejects it, that is considered validation because this rejection is also interpreted in some way to fit the interpretation.
When modern psychoanalysts claim that the field has changed, I often hear some watered down version – we listen to people, we are empathic, etc. Well that is all well and good but not deserving of some congratulatory response. We should all listen empathically. That is no validation of the advantage of psychoanalysis. Or else, I hear validation from some interpretation of modern neuroscience – see, psychotherapy does change the brain! That in my opinion is a fairly weak piece of evidentiary support; writing this now is likely changing my brain in some way. Relationships change the brain. Fine. Why does that privilege psychoanalysis?
My critique has to do with epistemic authority. Psychoanalytic theory and practice still seems to place the epistemic authority of “knowing the problem” in the hands of the expert. What I find truly revolutionary are approaches that step back and acknowledge that none of us truly understand these complex problems.
I also think in this time of reckoning in our culture, I want to say that there is a long history, sadly, of psychoanalysts misusing their privilege. Where I studied there were many prominent psychoanalysts who were found to have abused their power in their relationships with their patients. The analysts were men and the patients were usually women. I also know that the psychoanalysts kept out non-MDs and homosexuals for many years. Has there been a true reckoning for how this could have happened under the umbrella of psychoanalytic practice? To say the field has changed, is not, in my opinion adequate.
Finally, why does one need an MD to practice in this way? In what way does medical training enhance this kind of work? If medical professionals are part of this world (and some may argue we should step back), I would say it would be to use our medical training but to use it in a more judicious way that is protected from commercial influences.
But I am all for free speech, so glad to have you. As for joining “our team”, who am I to say? I am looking for allies but I not in charge of who can wear the team jersey.
I would add that although it is tempting to medicalize (or biologicalize) our problems, since then we don’t have to face up to our real issues, and we can turn responsibility for addressing our problems over to authorities who promise quick-fix “cures” which seem to help in the short-run, in the long-run this approach inevitably causes things to get worse and worse due to the real issues being neglected, and due to the quick-fixes causing new problems. We all have very capable brains which can accomplish so much, if we choose to put the effort into using them to address our own problems.
We all have very capable brains. This is true. But psychiatry operates based on the assumption that the human brain is something like a tumor that must be tampered with and even destroyed because of a mysterious “mental illness,” and some mysterious “chemical imbalance” that might infect it. Psychiatry creates the very problems that it purports to cure, and then it pushes more of its damaging “remedies” upon the brains of those who have already been harmed by psychiatry. We all have very capable brains. Therefore, let us use those brains to expose the lies of psychiatry and to liberate the oppressed from the shackles of psychiatry.
Lawrence, your article is interesting, but highly flawed.
It is interesting that this supposed conflict between Psychotherapy and Psychiatry goes way back. And it is still going on today, like here on MadInAmerica, as Psychotherapists try to gain market share from Psychiatrists, but hiding the fact that the whole thing is a bogus market.
Freud started out saying that his 16 patients, female hysterics, were correct in reporting childhood sexual molestations. But for this, Freud was pilloried. So by the time of the publication of his Interpretation of Dreams, he completely recanted and presented his theory of infantile seduction and fantasy. For this, Freud was accepted.
So he sells out his patients, so that the society will accept him. While not postulating ~mental illness~ he is postulating something far deeper, a deficit, a defect, which lies at the core. He is trying to show the existence of Original Sin.
And then Freud always opposed leftist movements. And when in Austria he saw troops mobilizing for WWI, he went on to lament about all the kinds of darkness’s in the human soul.
Never does he say that the problems causing WWI were Capitalism and Monarchy, or that it is right for people to stand up and fight to defend their country. And never ever did he support the idea that the supposedly ‘disturbed’ should instead be fighting to redress the injustices which they have experienced.
Now yes, the Freudian type of analysis never did catch on in the US, it was more this Ego Counseling.
Excellent book which traces the entire history, available on paper, and here full text:
And the best critique of Freud:
The critical acclaim for this continues to grow.
Deleuze and Guattari were writing in France in 1972. So they did not see what we have now in the US with the Recovery Movement. But what they describe as ‘neuroticism’ captures it to a tee.
And then Jeffrey Masson, the curator of the Sigmund Freud Institute:
And then Alice Miller, when she was at her best and influenced by Masson and she rejected ALL forms of therapy as merely the therapist promoting their own denial systems and selling out the client:
So Lawrence we have Psychiatrists positing mental illness. But Foucault showed us all that this really is just Original Sin. And we have Psychotherapists trying to claim market share by positing their own formulation of Original Sin, and likewise with the Recovery Movement.
So I find our article to be completely inadequate and erroneous.
In the article I did not promote/push psychotherapy, I did not deny that Freud had many flaws, and I did not suggest that we accept most of his theories. I only focused on his overall contribution about there being feelings/issues which we are not completely conscious of but which still motivate us, as being something that is especially true of our society nowadays, due to the medical model having fooled many people into thinking that all unpleasant feelings/behaviors are biological brain diseases, so there’s no point in trying to use their brains to understand or work on their own problems or raise their own children. So I suggested that a possible antidote to this cultural poison would be to educate the public about Freud’s general concept, even though he made many mistakes and wrong turns. I am trying to help our group defeat psychiatry, especially biological psychiatry, and was hoping people would consider that Freud could be of use to us in this effort.
” feelings/issues which we are not completely conscious of but which still motivate us”
But that is still profiting of the misery of others. Freud is not helping to raise political consciousness, he is making people believe that people are the reason for their own distress and their own trashed social and civil standing.
Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy, and Recovery, are completely parasitic doctrines which prey upon the marginalized.
I want to make clear where I am coming from….the DSM belongs in the trashcan….the drugging of America is a tragedy…the treatment options are very iffy…psychiatry is sick…but we must now look very carefully at what is causing our suffering….what are the CAUSES…I believe the best model of cause is bio/psych/soc…
not just psych…not just soc…not just bio…
The problems we address on this website are those for which a biological source such as stroke, brain infection, tumor, metabolic/hormonal disorder, drug effects, delirium caused by a real medical condition, etc., have already been ruled out if there was concern for a possible biological source, leaving only non-biological explanations such as psychological and societal.
how do you understand the effects that dissociation has upon the brain NOT mind? My wife has d.i.d. and so I’ve had to deal with the worst case scenarios of dissociation upon the brain. Plus she’s over 50, and so even though ‘hard wire’ isn’t technically true, it is pretty descriptive of how hard she and I have had to work to undo the neural atrophy between the 8 girls (alters). I’ll be honest, even the therapists on this site who talk about dissociation seem to have a pretty simplistic understanding of how truly deep the dissociation affects the healing process, hindering it in so many ways and forcing me to find all kinds of work arounds as I have to help each girl individually until I can get her connected to the larger group…and until that point she doesn’t have access to the rest of the mind/brain’s abilities to heal…on top of the MASSIVE headaches that accompany this process which I can only attribute to the stimulation of those neural pathways after 4 decades of disuse…
I don’t know…maybe you and others would place this issue elsewhere, but from my intimate experience helping my wife undo the dissociation and how deeply it affected her brain as well as mind…I still wonder if it’s truly a place for psychiatrists not just psychologists…
…Maybe I should add, because I don’t expect you to know me or our story, I don’t think there is anything ‘wrong’ per se with my wife’s brain..and we have NEVER used any medications…but that still doesn’t mean I don’t understand the extreme changes that took place in my wife’s brain/mind when she suffered trauma early and deep enough to shatter her personality into the various girls(alters)…
Lawrence wrote, “problems we address ”
And this is indeed the way which Psychiatry, Psychothearpy, and Recovery work, turning your experience of societal injustice, into a medial problem and self improvement project.
If you let them do this to you, then they’ve got you.
And then when they do it minors not currently being represented by an attorney in court, then they are just accomplice child abusers.
Thanks for the article. Some trumpets need sounding from time to time.
Freud made safe spaces for his analysands to talk to him about their mommies and daddies, who fuck us up. Now, following several billion unexpected consequences, in a drug-savaged Kraepelinian landscape, regression is emancipated, unrepressed. Spaces made safe. Age-play, adult diapers, some mocked-up soiled with peanut butter and others willed in a peculiar act of defiance.
A mind is an unsafe space.
Learning from Freud is learning from Judaism, from the Kabbalah, that the complex interplay of our three conflicting minds and our three innermost conflicting tendencies — the sacred triad within the triad — is that we are beings in ongoing creation, in formation, in change, always. And that attending to who we are, is attending to who we are becoming. And in so doing, to borrow some contemporary lingo, we are being with our own becoming.
Freud was a great pioneer, we all owe him a great debt of gratitude. But don’t have any Freuds yourself.
littleturtle, There is not such thing as mental illness. And no one needs psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, recovery, psychiatric medications, or street drugs or alcohol.
What we have is a society which depends on the continual creation of scapegoats. It does this with the mental health system, and it does this via the middle-class family.
The remedy is always political consciousness raising and political action.
The vast majority of the posters on this forum are not supporting this, they are supporting psychotherapy and recovery. These are simply more abuse of survivors.
No-one really needs chocolate, blow-jobs, reddit, twitter, ripped jeans, lipstick, hair transplants, dogs as pets, amazon gift vouchers, netflix, and so on and so forth.
Almost all human needs are manufactured.
But drugs, psychoactive drugs — and alcohol is a drug — are very much a human need. It is a deplorable statement to claim otherwise. Now one person digs their downers and another person digs their uppers and all I can claim to know about this is that the people that prefer their downers look down on the people that prefer their uppers, and vice versa… but moreso both groups are in constant denial about their drug dependency, which in itself, is a deplorable term, because it suggests that in some way to be dependent on drugs is somehow unnatural, and is putting aside the glaring facts which I will repeat again
everyone is dependent on psychoactive drugs
and for clarification, this caveat
your brain is your very own illicit drug factory
to live a life without psychoactive drugs would require a life without a brain. very few people have the mettle to accomplish such a task. I am unable to name one such person. but surely such a person must exist, as so many advocate for them?
You are looking at the role of “biology” in human behavior in a mechanical way. To promote the standard refrain of “bio/psycho/social,” is to remain stuck in a paradigm of thought that represents everything wrong with the status quo’s version of what actually represents the very fluid concept of human nature.
After all, every Biological Psychiatrist will gladly parrot the “bio/psycho/social” refrain. And we also have to ask the question, why is “bio” ALWAYS listed first in this particular meaningless refrain? We do know that based on any careful examination of the way modern Psychiatry functions in the world, is that they pretty much all practice a “bio/bio/bio” approach in the real world.
I suggest you read some of Robert Sapolsky’s (well known neuroscientist and primatologist) writings, including his short article titled “Peace Among Primates.” Here is a quote from that essay:
“To an overwhelming extent, the age-old “nature versus nurture” debate is silly. The action of genes is completely intertwined with the environment in which they function; in a sense, it is pointless to even discuss what gene X does, and we should consider instead only what gene X does in environment Y. Nonetheless, if one had to predict the behavior of some organism on the basis of only one fact, one might still want to know whether the most useful fact would be about genetics or about the environment.”
In this essay he clearly shows a real life example where “environment” clearly trumps (sorry for the use of this word) other factors in the ultimate determination of what are the primary behavioral influences within an on going culture of a particular subset of primates.
All this provides some very important “food for thought” when we ponder what is going on in the world and how we should go about finding the best solutions for the most vexing problems facing humanity.
This is a critical point, Richard! There are some biological aspects that can be controlled or directed, such as food, exercise, sleep. But as for genetics, it’s the one thing we can’t change! So why are millions and millions being spent on exploring genetics and brain structure and so on, when it’s clear that the ENVIRONMENT is the big variable that we DO control? It makes no sense at all, unless you’re interested in keeping people sick and dependent, and that, littleturtle, is the part where I think we are having some difficulties communicating. Nobody here denies that biology is part of the picture. But environmental impacts are the big variable we control even regarding the “bio” part. The problem with psychiatry is not that they focus on “bio,” it’s that they don’t really focus on whether their approach WORKS or not! They focus on “symptom control” without any THOUGHT as to why a person might have these “symptoms” or whether they are really “symptoms” of anything at all.
You seem to believe that the field of psychiatry is seeking to find the best way to “treat” these “diseases” of the mind. I believe that psychiatry is seeking the best way to make a lot of money for themselves and their allies, even if individuals believe they’re being helpful. If they REALLY cared about their clients, they’d be a lot more open to hearing when new data contradicts their theories. All they have is their drugs, and they HAVE to believe that “broken brains” are the problem or their justification for prescribing is gone. So the big variable that we CAN change, our environment, is the one thing they can’t ever consider. The results speak for themselves.
I appreciate your supportive, team-minded comments, and believe it’s crucial that in addition to constructive debates (from which I have learned much here at MIA), that we also use our comments to help each other clarify and further our points, if we are to succeed in our daunting but important task of educating the public about biological psychiatry’s lies and harms. More and more people are reading articles on MIA, and many of them are likely reading our comments. So if an author presents an idea that is potentially helpful, but in a way that is unclear or offensive to some (as it appears I did in this article), then follow-up comments such as yours here (and which you have provided for many other MIA articles) can potentially aid in the achievement of our goal of bringing more people into our fold, and helping them avoid falling into biological psychiatry’s traps.
But psychotherapy and recovery are also symptom control mechanisms, trying to make the client measure up to social expectations, learn to live in an unjust world without complaint, rather than fighting to restore their public honor.
They do not HAVE to be that, Tireless. Most people WANT to feel better, but good therapy catalyzes their ability to feel better by reassuming control of their lives. This is the opposite of what you’re saying. I most often found that clients NEEDED to get in touch with their anger and outrage in order to move forward to a new path, and that, in fact, learning that they don’t HAVE to live up to ANY social expectations is essential to being able to find a way to move forward in the crazy world we have to live in. There is a big difference between “adjusting” to social expectations and becoming CONSCIOUS of social expectations that one may have felt compelled to follow against one’s own will or interests. If you want to fight for justice, being aware of your own emotions and expectations seems an important starting point.
dr kelmenson….only dealing with psych/soc problems is a problem…I don’t think this website MIA is strictly the way you are presenting it…WE DO NOT KNOW ENOUGH AT THIS TIME TO RULE OUT BIOLOGY as a possible cause of ??? mental suffering…we need doctors and psychologists and social workers and lawyers and religious leaders and maybe the janitor…
They have been working hard to establish a biological cause for extreme states for nearly 200 years, Littleturtle. Granted, even experts of the human brain are pretty ignorant. They should acknowledge this, instead of lying, and pretending to have magic bullets.
If they could show a biological cause for extreme states, psychiatrists would likely put themselves out of business. We already have neurologists to treat brain diseases. Robert Whitaker points this out in Anatomy of an Epidemic.
Yes, but trauma-based dissociation essentially chops up the brain/mind into smaller, partials which try desperately to keep the façade of normalcy/health, and yet because these ‘partials’ can only access part of the brain/mind’s abilities, that fact can easily contribute to some of the very things you describe.
I don’t know if the brain scans of people with d.i.d. are accurate. I don’t really care because I’ve got extensive experience helping the 8 girls in my wife’s system overcome the limitations that their dissociation causes them while helping them connect and dissolve that dissociation.
My wife doesn’t have a brain disease that a neurologist could help. She simply has to overcome the decades of neural atrophy that comes from dissociation and disuse which can cause many of the ‘extreme states’ this site loves to talk about. I believe my wife’s brain/mind can be whole again, just like a broken leg can be reset and after good physical therapy can become as strong or even stronger than before the trauma. But I do believe these things have at least some basis in the biology of the brain and how it copes and adapts to severe trauma. My wife’s issues are just on one end of the spectrum: all trauma survivors fit along that spectrum at varying degrees.
Has your wife taken any psychiatric drugs Sam? That can really atrophy the brain.
Stress itself can damage the brain it has been shown. But psychiatric “treatment” can cause unnecessary stress–causing extra damage through stigmatizing labels, segregation, confinement, emotional abuse in day treatment. In addition to brain drugs and ECT.
Hopefully providing a safe place and emotional support will permit your wife’s brain to heal as well as her mind.
I too believe that your wife’s brain can heal. If I’m not mistaken the book I Never Promised You a Rose Garden deals with a woman who had the same experiences as your wife. I hope that I’m not getting things messed up. I watched a video of this woman as she talked about her experiences and how she slowly was able to heal from the dissociation.
no, my wife has never taken any psychiatric drugs. The atrophy I’m talking about is a function of neural plasticity and the brain’s habit of ‘punishing’ the disuse of neural pathways and ‘rewarding’ the ones we use.
Stephen, yeah. It’s definitely been hard, but it’s doable even after 4+ decades of hard core, complete dissociation of the last 2 girls. I emphasize them doing activities in which all the girls have interest and as they do these over and over and over and over, slowly the pathways are strengthened until they can communicate internally as easy as I can. There are other factors which slow her progress, but she’s definitely healing and the experts out there who love to say that childhood trauma causes permanent changes in a person’s brain are full of it.
A salute to you and may you keep fighting the good fight. What you and your wife and son are doing is producing a very credible case against the present system. Absolutely, anyone who states that people’s experiences of trauma permanently change the brain are totally full of it! Good luck in you all’s quest to find wholeness and healing.
Wow, the boys are really having it on this article. I guess some of you got some of your feathers ruffled while others it did not. Welcome back Richard, it’s great to read your postings again.
Why in the world would anybody bring Scientology? This whole article is based on Dr. K’s view of Freud. Clearly in today’s society, we’ve become a society dependent on pills and big pharma because it’s the easiest way out to the biggest paycheck. Freud is not responsible for that.
Please show or demonstrate for me that anyone’s theories are 100% correct. Some of you fall in hook, line and sinker to particular authors. Sorry to break the news, none of them are 100%. Not to get religious, but Jesus did say let he cast the first stone that has not sinned. Bottom line here is getting to the root cause of the problem as Dr. K pointed out in all his articles. Most of the time, this will not require medication. Of course, all situations are different based on the severity of the illness.
Again, not my profession, but I believe 100% it’s utmost important to get to the root cause before considering medication. Clearly, no sane individual would want or shouldn’t want to get anyone addicted to any medication if they have a conscious. We all know that is not the case and people like Dr. K is one of those few people that advocates against prescriptions.
This site is not intended to condemn someone’s thoughts as some of you have done. Man or woman stand up and write your own articles if you disagree and counter this article with your own, not simply post comments.
The intent here is to increase ones knowledge and to demonstrate multiple points based on the authors theory (Dr. K). I don’t work in this field nor do I care to, but I have read a lot of material. Freud was not perfect, but he wasn’t wrong about everything either as some seem to believe. Bottom line, nobody is perfect and all of their respective theories aren’t 100% correct either. Steve and Richard, I enjoyed your postings. At least Dr. K has the stones to put out a good article. People, he’s a good man that cares about his patients, isn’t that what we all want in the end?
Good article Dr. K.
No one is condemning anyone’s thoughts, although Freud’s thinking needs to be dismantled. The root cause of the problem is psychiatry and Freud’s dirty finger prints are part of that story. I’m sure Lawrence is a great person, much better than Freud (although that’s not much of a compliment). There is truth and there is falsehood. Szasz honed in on some crucial truths, particularly that psychiatry is the science of lies, and Freud popularized a variety of pernicious falsehoods. We cannot talk about root causes without acknowledging the fact that psychiatry causes the very problems it purports to cure. Much of the suffering that psychiatrists attempt to address is iatrogenic in nature. Freud is the root cause of similar problems since he popularized the pathologization of normal human experience. Freud was a fraud, and his teacher Charcot was a charlatan. Jesus was fearless in exposing the lies and the hypocrisy of Scribes and the Pharisees, and I’m sure that he wouldn’t back down from exposing the lies of psychiatry. He rebuked the money changers and drove them from the temple. He was merciful toward His enemies, and He forgave them, as must we. But He certainly didn’t shy away from speaking the truth, even when that truth was unpopular with His contemporaries.
Some of us have written articles that have been rejected. There’s nothing wrong with dissenting from the views of one author, particularly when those views could potentially prove dangerous to survivors of psychiatric abuse.
Freud was “dismantled” in the 1980s by biological psychiatry’s convincing America that emotional/behavioral problems are actually genetic brain diseases that are “curable” by new “miracle” drugs, and look what this dismantling led to – the harmful drugging up of nearly a quarter of the population, often starting in early childhood, resulting in massive, growing epidemics of drug addiction/overdose, disability, and suicide ever since then, which threaten our entire society’s future. So what’s most crucial is that biological psychiatry (which is all that’s left of psychiatry) is dismantled before it is too late, and that is therefore what I (and MIA) are focused on. That is why I suggested un-dismantling Freud, since these horrors were not occurring when his ideas were accepted by society. I am also against involuntary commitment, but this didn’t begin during Freud’s time – it started many centuries before him.
Perhaps instead of un-dismantling Freud as a person or clinician, we try to resurrect the parts of his observations that appear relevant and effective today. For instance, the idea that listening to your client is the beginning of any attempt to know what might be helpful was a breakthrough. Initially, he believed his clients’ stories of trauma – that was helpful. He identified that people are not generally completely or sometimes even vaguely aware of their motivations for doing what they do – the idea of the unconscious mind was probably his moment of greatest genius. And his initial idea of bringing the unconscious motivations to consciousness seems to be important to effective therapy, especially as regards historical trauma.
There’s a lot to toss out, too, but that’s how real science works. We take what comports with the data and toss the rest. We don’t expect one person to come up with a theory that explains everything, we continue to explore and build on and discard pieces as needed. That’s what’s important here, not whether Freud is a good guy or a bad guy. Lots of good guys come up with dumb theories, and bad guys sometimes have moments of genius. We need to focus on the ideas and models that work and not concern ourselves too much with the character of the person who thought of them.
excellent thinking steve…the focus on ideas and models that work…yes
So what’s most crucial is that biological psychiatry (which is all that’s left of psychiatry) is dismantled before it is too late, and that is therefore what I (and MIA) are focused on
No that is NOT what MIA is focused on, though many of us wish it were. MIA is officially committed to “rethinking” psychiatry, not dismantling it. Unfortunately.
If “biological psychiatry” is all that’s left, then let’s just call it psychiatry for godssake, and stop acting like there are different varieties. And from your perspective let’s stop acting as though there was ever a genuine “Freudian psychiatry” anyway, as if it’s psychiatry it could only be a bastardization of Freud in any case.
But Freud lives on in psychotherapy and the recovery movement. Like it was with Freud, these institutions seek to establish social normalcy, and they do this by making people believe that it is their own aggression, anger, and sexuality which are the problem.
Actually, Freud says that it is living within the restraints of a repressive society (or being “normal”, in other words) that is the source of our discontent. And though Freud’s ideas were completely distorted by American psychiatry and its affiliated institutions into a way to pathologize more and more people, he had no such goals, and fought against this. He instead hoped to help society become less repressive and more tolerant of different types of self-expression, which he did to some degree. Civilization and its Discontents is the book where he wrote about this.
Biological psychiatry is not all that’s left. It’s only one of the most pernicious manifestations of the psychiatric enterprise. It’s one of the heads of the psychiatric hydra. The whole rotten system of subjugation needs to be uprooted and eliminated, including any hifalutin Freudian justifications for psychiatry. MIA is not really on board with the abolition of psychiatry. I understand that as a tactical strategy, but in terms of morality and ethics, it doesn’t hold water. There are people suffering, labeled, enslaved, drugged, abused, and dying because of psychiatry, and it doesn’t make sense to try to salvage any part of psychiatry. No one is trying to preserve what was good about the 3rd Reich or southern plantations. Psychiatry is evil, therefore, it must be abolished. Simple.
When did I ever suggest salvaging any part of psychiatry? All I suggested is re-educating the public about there sometimes being unconscious issues causing our feelings/behaviors, to counteract psychiatry’s lies about societally-disapproved of feelings/behaviors being caused by genetic/chemical defects. If you really want to slay the dragon of psychiatry, you would consider approaches such as this that could help us accomplish this goal.
Freud was onto something with his idea of the subconscious. I don’t totally agree with any of these writers, but I take what seems reasonable and helpful from each.
People, he’s a good man that cares about his patients, isn’t that what we all want in the end?
Of course Lawrence is a good man. There are many good men who advance erroneous theories. Not all of us want good men who care about their patients. Many of us seek good men who are courageous enough to help abolish psychiatry so that we won’t have anymore victims of psychiatry in the future.
“So it’s best that we here at Mad in America put an end to psychiatry before it harms our entire society beyond repair.”
-Lawrence Kelmenson, December 3, 2017
An interesting contrast to this particular article.
“Freud viewed psychoanalysis as within psychology rather than medicine, and urged that it not be medicalized.”
No. He didn’t. The whole notion of “neurology” is bound up with the quest for medical prestige. Freud may have concocted psychoanalysis as an ostensibly super-medical concept, but the practical result was the medicalization of normal human experience.
It appears to be quite clear to me because this is not my field of study. Let me ask you this, what do you want to see changed? I would appreciate your views and I would appreciate that you except my feedback, being an outsider to this field. Personally, I don’t like the medical addiction that this causes.
Just posting in case of interest (no time to discuss further i’m afraid) “Freud Was a Fraud: A Triumph of Pseudoscience” – Frederick Crews has written a reassessment of Freud based on newly available correspondence and re-evaluation of previously available materials. He shows that Freud was a fraud who deceived himself and succumbed to pseudoscience. https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/freud-was-a-fraud-a-triumph-of-pseudoscience/
My comments (re the Australian context) If only the RANZCP (Australian psychiatry training college) would accept this – the ONLY way to do “advanced training in psychotherapy” is psychodynamic, i.e. modern Freudian – AND the Faculty of Psychotherapy continues utterly so biased. Their conferences etc – modern behaviorism / contextual behavioral science https://contextualscience.org doesn’t get a mention and cannot be taught – sheesh.
“Freud: The Making of an Illusion [is] a . . . stake driven into its subject’s cold, cold heart. . . . Crews is an attractively uncluttered stylist, and he has an amazing story to tell.”―Louis Menand, The New Yorker
“A powerful and thorough takedown of Sigmund Freud.”―Vulture
“Crews [is] going in for the kill. A damning portrait.”―Esquire
“Diligently documented . . . neither sensationalized nor ranting . . . a scorching summation.”―The Chronicle of Higher Education
“An elegant and relentless exposé . . . Impressively well-researched, powerfully written, and definitively damning. Crews wields his razor-sharp scalpel on Freud’s slavish followers, in particular, who did not want to see or who willfully redacted the sloppiness of Freud’s research methods in order to ‘idealize him.’ ”―Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
“Crews relentlessly shreds the deceptions that Freudians even now try to maintain. . . . This thorough dismantling of one of modernity’s founding figures is sure to be met with controversy.”―Booklist (Starred Review)
“A stunning indictment . . . this fascinating biographical study paints a portrait of Freud as a man who cared more about himself than his patients and more about success than science.”―Publishers Weekly
“For those who worship Freud, and even those millions who have simply admired his ideas, Crews’s rigorous and captivating detective work will be a bracing challenge.”―Elizabeth Loftus, co-author of The Myth of Repressed Memory
Most people forget that Carl Jung was a devoted disciple of Freud but parted company with him very violently because he thought that Freud was going off way in left field with a lot of his theories.
That’s actually a good point.
i don’t think we know very much about the cause and treatment/cure of serious mental health problems…from littleturtle
You’re right, because our psychiatric types haven’t gotten beyond behavioral diagnoses, which leads to a kind of one size fits all treatment approach for multiple ailments that generate similar behaviors. Take “depression”. I can think of multiple causes for depressed moods, from nutrient deficiencies, to copper and heavy metal poisoning, to blood sugar irregularities, to food and chemical sensitivities, to thyroid problems, to certain food reactions. All tend to be treated with antidepressants by alleged medical psychiatrists, who don’t seem to be able to practice real medicine.
The same things happen with the “schizophrenias” and the “conduct disorders”, with the same miserable results, because nobody of influence has broached the idea that these are brought on by multiple conditions within alleged diagnostic groups.
bcharris—-you said it better than I could…
Are you saying that what we eat and breath predominately causes depressed moods rather than depressing social experiences?
I need to make a statement here….I have had a MENTAL ILLNESS for 65 years so far…you can talk all you want to about anti-psychiatry ..and I want to talk about anti-psychiatry but I will not believe that biology is out as far as causation…it may even turn out to be the most important…we just don’t know yet…but don’t try and take down the fact that there are a lot of us who have a mental illness…I have been helped by a psychiatrist big time…and a psychologist big time…and a minister big time…all of the above..you cant ever take away REALITY…wherever it is…and I belong on MIA just like the rest of you…MIA is not just taking psychiatry down…it is searching for the TRUTH..
If biology is not causing your emotional/mental problems beforehand it WILL play a key role after undergoing the “safe and effective treatments” supplied by your friendly neighborhood shrink.
Assuming the brain is actually broken, they have no business trying to fix it until they know where the crack is. Neuro-surgeons don’t remove brain tumors in the dark after all!
i don’t disagree with that…there are psychiatrists out there that are ready to abandon ship and join the anti-psychiatry movement….but not if you throw insults about their character…psychiatry will go down when most of the people are not willing to take all the pills for every problem ….people don’t want to give up on their pills…they will learn hopefully…but it may take a very long time…
littleturtle – Don’t you think that even psychiatrists who are, as you say, ready to abandon ship and join the anti-psychiatry movement should be able to grasp why they get lots of “blowback”? Even here, the psychiatrist who proposes keeping that which was good of Freud is showing resilience against all the blowback – he/she should be strong enough, secure enough, in his/her decision to jump ship to know the waters he/she is jumping in to…
The age of the antipsychiatry psychiatrist is probably over, little turtle. One generation died, and now mad people, ex-patients, and psychiatric survivors are beginning to wake up and rise up. Antipsychiatry = no psychiatrist. Psychiatry doesn’t need an infusion, what it needs is a decimation. We’re not all mad and in need of a psychiatrist, they (psychiatrists) are all mad to think so.
I consider “diagnoses of mental illness” to be libelous slander and assaults on OUR character. A lot of us here try to treat psychiatrists as charitably as possible. I believe I was kind in my comments to Eve Wood.
Many don’t care whether we insult them or not. As long as they earn $250,000 a year they won’t abandon ship. Human nature–not just shrinks!
Somewhere in your search for truth, which is commendable, it will become clear that “mental illness” is a myth, “chemical imbalances” are a hoax, and psychiatry is a pseudo-scientific system of torture and abuse. In the mean time, you are certainly welcome to your opinions.
slaying the dragon— I don’t equate mental illness with chemical imbalance…
That’s fine. Do you believe in the myth of mental illness? If so, I recommend Thomas Szasz’s book “The Myth of Mental of Mental Illness.”
I have a mental illness…it is a badge of honor for me…I am very old…I don’t follow any special people…I search for truth…I don’t equate chemical imbalance with mental illness…how do you define mental illness…
I believe the definition part is the problem, Littleturtle. As I’ve said before, and I don’t think you’ve responded to me about this, no one denies there is suffering nor that biology is involved. What folks are fighting here is the idea that some “professional” can come a long and define “what is wrong with you” based on a book that was written in committees and that denies that the abuse and neglect and oppression experienced by most they define as “mentally ill” (including such abuse as is dished out by the system itself) is even RELEVANT to their “diagnosis.” “Mental illness” is NOT “just like any other illness” nor are drugs given to dampen out the “symptoms” in any way like “insulin for diabetes.” It’s the idea that someone with some advanced degree can label and box you up without even consulting you for your view on it that’s offensive. Plus the idea that “mental illness” is IN YOU, rather than being a consequence (as it usually is) of what has happened to you and your body in this oppressive society in which we live.
You’re absolutely entitled to view yourself as “mentally ill” if that is a workable view for you. I’d argue that no one else is in a position to define for you “what is wrong with you” unless they actually know both the CAUSE and a range of potential REMEDIES for what is ailing you. THAT is the trouble with “mental illness.” Not that the manifestations so described don’t exist – the trouble is that psychiatrists and their minions have no right to define for you “what is wrong” and “what you should do” (let alone FORCE you to do these things) when they themselves know and sometimes even admit out loud that they have no idea what a “mental illness” really is or whether their “treatments” actually address a physiological problem or are just one more substance to make you feel better (or feel less) without any connection to a physiological problem at all.
Szasz had flaws too as did Freud, I wouldn’t recommend this old dinosaur to anyone. Clearly, you treat him as a god based on your readings, whereas I did read some of his material and don’t.
I have always found when you get hooked on one author’s beliefs (ask Richard), you too become slanted in your views, which always gives me a point of contention (with MIA posters) and then you (posters) become so one sided based on your beliefs in the author.
As Dr. K pointer out in numerous postings to “each their own,” I feel it’s fair to agree that we’ll never agree, but let’s make some progress and help people that need it.
If I’m not mistaken, your arguments are leveled against biological psychiatry, as if there is some other kind of psychiatry (Freudian or otherwise) that will somehow prove beneficial in the battle against biological psychiatry. My response is simply that the attempt to vindicate Freud will prove more harmful to the cause of abolition. Freud’s theories do not dismantle biological psychiatry. They are part and parcel of the same nefarious system. Salvaging Freud = salvaging psychiatry.
You are still mistakenly equating Freud with psychiatry. I see him, as he viewed himself, as essentially a psychologist/sociologist who was scathing in his criticisms of psychiatry. American psychiatrists medicalized his theories/approaches out of greed, drastically distorting them into a means of pathologizing more and more people with “mental illness”, so they could increase their customer base. He was for the opposite; He tried to show how we are all the same in that we all struggle to cope with life’s difficulties, and to undo the harmful segregation/stigmatization of certain people as “ill”. My article was an attempt to clarify this misconception. So anti-Freud is pro-psychiatry. Which are you?
We are at an impasse because of your mistaken reading of Freud. I wouldn’t be so adamant about this if it weren’t such a drastic mistake. I respect your opposition to biological psychiatry and your desire to do right by your fellow man, but with all due respect the claim that anti-Freud is pro-psychiatry makes little sense, especially in light of Szasz’s very clear denunciation of Freud in many of his books. Again, I recommend Szasz’s book “Psychiatry: The Science of Lies” as a starting point for understanding why the attempt to vindicate Freud is problematic at best, and potentially very harmful. In any case, I wish you all the best, and a Merry, psychiatry-free Christmas. 🙂
I recommend you read Freud yourself as I extensively did (along with “The Myth of Mental Illness”) before beginning my psychiatric training, mainly the books I referenced in this article, and then form your own opinions. If you learn about him from Szasz’s or other people’s versions, you are more likely to hear the Americanized, capitalistic, medicalized version which I referred to in the article. The DSM was a product of this distortion of Freud’s goals; he would have strongly opposed it, as therapists in France have, where Freud’s ideas were not distorted, and where the populace accepts their value. I recommend you have an open mind, which is what Freud emphasized to be the most crucial quality for being a good analyst, which is why psychiatrists tend to make poor therapists (except me, of course).
Sorry, Dragon Slayer, I see that you did read “Interpretation of Dreams”. I know it didn’t prove anything, but you have to admit it was fascinating and gave a very plausible explanation of why we all produce such seemingly nonsensical dreams. You can at least give the guy a little credit for something, can’t you?
Perhaps you could write an article describing how therapists in France have opposed the DSM. Might give some therapists here ideas on ways to resist – which would be a step in the right direction.
The purpose of having an open mind is to close it again on something solid. Freud’s slippery sophistry is about as solid as soggy spaghetti. You can learn a lot more about Freud from Szasz’s studies because he unfolds Freud’s fraudulence within the context of the broader history of psychiatry. Szasz also exposes the charlatanry of Charcot, Freud’s teacher. Psychiatric indoctrination is difficult to unlearn, and it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon him not understanding it. In any case, America and capitalism are, for the most part, good things, and the medicalization to which you refer, as I noted earlier, is already present in Freud. If Freud could have drummed up the DSM in his time, he probably would have done it. It would have helped him to pay for his hits of cocaine. Perhaps Freud’s merit resides in his unfruitful search for the male reproductive organ in eels? Or is it Freud’s almost Marxist critique of religion that merits our praise?
Freud’s theories are about as plausible as a DSM diagnosis, which is to say, not at all. I’ll give Freud the credit that is due him for managing to deceive so many of his contemporaries, and almost all of his successors.
In any case, America and capitalism are, for the most part, good things
There’s no better place and no better system if you are rich and selfish.
Uprising, socialism, Marxism, communism, Stalinism, and the ideologies of other totalitarian regimes are the most selfish ideologies of all, and they resulted in the slaughter of millions upon millions of innocent people. Anti-American sentiment is also very selfish, though not intellectually sustainable. Would you prefer to live in Stalinist Russia, or perhaps Mao’s China? Pol Pot’s Cambodia? Castro’s Cuba? Maybe you would prefer to live under the benevolent rule of Kim Jong-un in North Korea?
Blah blah blah… and you prefer the dictatorship of money.
European-style socialism has existed for many decades without leading to totalitarian rule. I think you’re letting your imagination run a bit too freely here. The most successful modern societies combine ideas of socialism and capitalism. It’s the modern neoliberal/neoconservative movement of the last 40 years that has really led us to the crappy situation we’re in today, and blaming it on the left is very myopic.
Dragon Slayer — Just as I admonish leftists and so-called leftists for slipping into “isms,” you need to understand that you do the same; I repeat, your understanding of many of the terms you use is lacking, and your reduction of 20th Century history to ideological platitudes encourages more heat than light. I do wonder who your mentors are, because a lot of it sounds like Sean Hannity. And please quit while you think you’re ahead with your attempts to imply literal equivalence between psychiatry and US slavery; not only are anecdotal arguments invalid as you know, but even the attempt to find such equivalence is racist, “consciously” or not.
Steve — “European socialism” is not socialism, just a more leftward-leaning form of capitalism. Though more humane to be sure.
Anyway this has fallen off the home page so no one cares any more I guess. Are those other articles really more “popular”? — I can’t figure out what these judgements are based on…
Advocates of psychiatry try to silence me because I expose the truth about psychiatry. Certain antipsychiatrists try to silence me for resisting false political notions. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.
I don’t feel the need to respond further to the utterly vacuous accusations and the even more vacuous ideologies that lead people to such self-loathing. I can set aside the philosophical and political inanities to focus on our common goal to combat psychiatry. As for my influences, I would point to you the main protagonist in Plato’s dialogues, the Man of Galilee, and certain Founding Fathers, excluding Benjamin Rush. As it concerns the problem of psychiatry, I would point you to Thomas Szasz.
I’m not mistaken in my opinion, my beliefs are from what I read. You disagree and I respect that, but that is what make this country great. Dr. K has many excellent points, I just ask that you open your mind.
In regard to uprising, couldn’t agree more. Nailed it.
Just like a dog with a bone. Just can’t let it go, your pure hatred for Freud is obviously quite clear. It also appears that you always have to get the last word in. Is this from your pure hatred of Freud or the simply that that you believe your some sort of alpha. You would never make it in the military with your approach.
What do think the the youth of America would say to Thomas Szasz. Some whacked out old man I believe would the conscientious. Clearly he was way too liberal for my liking and his relationship with the fascist group of Scientologists, clearly puts him on my unapproved list. Today’s youngsters are way too liberal as well, at least they seem to be to me anyway. You may like him, and clearly your entitled to your opinion. Freud wasn’t right about everything and neither Szasz.
Personally I have never had a fondness for liberals or fascists, especially since my father, and his two brothers fought against them in WW2. My two nephews fought in Vietnam, with 1 making it home and one getting getting killed and me growing up watching protesters (aka hippies, spitting upon returning service men). I had another cousin killed in Beirut at the Marine Barracks in 1983, along with 200 plus more Marines.
Dr. K tried to express his views on Freud, he’s only trying to bring to light that Freud did have some value and clearly used his interpretations of Freud in writing this article. You may agree or disagree, that is your right and your privilege, one that I personally helped to preserve with my service to this country (1983-1991) and protecting people like you Dragon Slayer.
“Not all of us want good men who care about their patients. Many of us seek good men who are courageous enough to help abolish psychiatry so that we won’t have anymore victims of psychiatry in the future.” Clearly Thomas Szasz didn’t do that either did he? You go online and you can find a million of them (psychiatrists who practice psychiatry) Are you going to make a difference here Dragon Slayer or professionally by quitting the field to take a stand? I’ll take a good man any day as I have spent a lot time with courageous men protecting and dying for American freedoms for people just like you. Think about that for a minute.
You said, “Some of us have written articles that have been rejected.” Ever wonder why your articles were rejected? Perhaps it wasn’t worthy of this site and their editors. Dr. K has at least 5 published articles that I know, you may have many as well, but I don’t follow you and probably won’t. Dr. K. tries to bring new views and opinions on his subject matter. He, like Freud and Szasz isn’t always correct, but he does support his theories and responds numerous times to postings in regard to his articles.
You also said, “There’s nothing wrong with dissenting from the views of one author, particularly when those views could potentially prove dangerous to survivors of psychiatric abuse.” You are 100% correct and your entitled to your opinion. Just wondering if your an expert in this field or are you falling back to your readings on Thomas Szasz? Today’s drugs are the problem and the big money that follows them? It’s quite clear what the issue is and Freud is not writing the prescriptions today is he?
Personally I have never had a fondness for liberals or fascists, especially since my father, and his two brothers fought against them in WW2.
This is very confusing.
Am I the only commenter on MIA that isn’t a Marxist or a socialist? Good grief. Some of these comments almost make me want to be pro-psychiatry. Almost, but not quite.
No, you aren’t. I grew up on the Right, but helping my wife pulled me to the center/right. I think there’s a lot of tendency to victim blame on the Right, and I also think it over-values the ideals of self-sufficiency and independence, and I had to learn those were NOT conducive to my wife’s healing. But that said, in the middle I simply see the faults and strengths of BOTH sides instead of ONLY seeing the faults of those on the Left and the strengths of those on the Right like I used to do for most of my life…
I can understand why you confused and that’s my fault. My nephew did three tours in Vietnam (65-68). He told me repeatedly how he was spit on in airports, called a baby killer, by “liberal hippies, and had dog poo thrown at him,” all while defending his country. I asked why he continued to go back, and his answer was he didn’t want to see anymore 18 year olds die.
For the record, he died in 1970, falling asleep at the wheel attending law college in Albany, NY. I still have his trumpet and I miss him as I miss my cousin that was killed in Beirut in 1982.
mjms1165 … I’m sorry, but that was such an incoherent rant that I’m not sure how to respond. If you’re trying to intimidate me from dissenting from Freud’s noxious ideas and your friend’s embrace of those ideas, it’s not going to work. The word I think you were looking for is “consensus,” and frankly, I don’t really care what the youth would think of Szasz. In any case, I have no hatred toward Freud or any other human being, including yourself. In fact, I’ll take a moment to thank you for your service in the military. Thank you. In any case, Szasz was not a liberal, nor was he a Scientologist. It is clear that you don’t know who Szasz was or what he wrote, so there’s really no sense in responding to your rant, except to clarify for the audience that Szasz did a lot of great work toward abolishing psychiatry even though much of that work has been neglected or rejected. My article was rejected because MIA is not fully on board with the project of abolition, and because the truths that I outlined in my essay were too much for MIA to handle. Dr. K is correct in his opposition to biological psychiatry, and you are correct about the drugs and the pharmaceutical companies, but Freud’s ideas are much more dangerous than Dr. K makes them out to be. Am I an expert? Heaven forbid. After all, the “experts” are at the forefront of psychiatric onslaught that is destroying the lives of many innocent people (Dr. K being a notable exception). In any case, I wish you a merry, psychiatry-free Christmas. All the best.
Dragon Slayer, I think you’ve got it right, Freud was trying to say that his approach was superior to the purely medical approach. But as we see, it is just a different way of finding defect in the survivor clients. And here on MIA, we see Psychotherapists trying to say that they are superior to the Psychiatrists. This is bogus, and the entire conversation is counter productive. Our whole society is made worse for it, and these therapists are profiting off of the misery of their clients.
Stomping the Cockroach of Psychotherapy
Spot on. Well put TirelessFighter3.
“Fighter” — Did you used to post under the name Nomadic?
“mjms1165 … I’m sorry, but that was such an incoherent rant that I’m not sure how to respond. If you’re trying to intimidate me from dissenting from Freud’s noxious ideas and your friend’s embrace of those ideas, it’s not going to work. “Clearly you’re mistaken, because I don’t rant. I simply state facts. Some like it some do not. I don’t attempt to, other posters on this site clearly try to intimidate where I won’t name them, I view them as bullies and that I won’t tolerate them. As Dr. K stated, to each his or her own. Unfortunately, we all live in a world where power is derived from wealth. I 100% apologize in regard to intimidation if you felt that way.
“The word I think you were looking for is “consensus,” and frankly, I don’t really care what the youth would think of Szasz.” Szasz is a dinosaur; old fart, or whatever else you could call him. It appears that you and I both are older and mature and I could care less what the youth of America think. I feel that you need to earn your position in America and you do so through hard work and education. Szasz is not modern and that’s my point, his ideas are old as he is. You guys on MIA get hooked into certain authors and won’t bend or consider anyone else’s ideas. Like Freud, he wasn’t right about everything. You seem to strongly believe that Freud was, wrong…Nobody is 100% percent correct, nobody. I put myself in that category as I also hope you do as well.
“In any case, I have no hatred toward Freud or any other human being, including yourself.” Nor do I for you In fact, I’ll take a moment to thank you for your service in the military”. Thank you. Freud was ok, he wasn’t right about everything either nor was Szasz. No one is perfect in this world nor are their respected theories. Everyone has flaws and you need to realize that. Szasz was great for his time in the 60’s & 70’s. I don’t dislike or feel hatred towards you and respect your views. And opinions as well.
“In any case, Szasz was not a liberal, nor was he a Scientologist. It is clear that you don’t know who Szasz was or what he wrote, so there’s really no sense in responding to your rant, except to clarify for the audience that Szasz did a lot of great work toward abolishing psychiatry even though much of that work has been neglected or rejected.” Again, I disagree, Szasz was a liberal and he was in bed with Scientology, perhaps he didn’t know at the time but he was. Didn’t you read Richards postings? I didn’t say I was an expert in this field, nor do I pretend to be. I apply logic and business sense to my postings, whereas you consider it a rant, I work 7 days a week running a $30 million dollar a year company. Sometimes, I’m just beat. Szasz was this far out old dude from the 60’s that was pertinent at that time (60’s-70’s). Reminds me of President GW Bush (against Bill Clinton) when he was asked what a loaf of bread cost. Why would he know that, he has a staff that provided for all his needs?
“My article was rejected because MIA is not fully on board with the project of abolition, and because the truths that I outlined in my essay were too much for MIA to handle. Sorry to hear that your article was rejected, clearly Dr. K has a great following with 300+ postings. Keep trying as I look forward to reading your thoughts. Nothing will ever be abolished in this country. Those in control, control the wealth and the power. I would enjoy reading your postings. Clearly, your intelligence level is way above average and your thought process is exceptional
“Dr. K is correct in his opposition to biological psychiatry, and you are correct about the drugs and the pharmaceutical companies, but Freud’s ideas are much more dangerous than Dr. K makes them out to be.” Freud is not god, nor was he perfect and the intent of this article was not to make Freud “god like.” Dr. K was trying to state his points in regard to Freud’s theories. I stand by his side in his quest to rid this world of “biological psychiatry.” Talk about dangerous, police crackdown on drunk driving, while they don’t on patients with an opioid addition. How is that possible, Freud clearly didn’t inflict the public with drug addiction, doctors did.
‘Am I an expert? Heaven forbid.” Nor, am I. I appreciate your honesty. After all, the “experts” are at the forefront of psychiatric onslaught that is destroying the lives of many innocent people (Dr. K being a notable exception). I agree 1000% with you on this point concerning Dr. K, in that he is the exception. He is a good man and has the stones to post on MIA.
“In any case, I wish you a merry, psychiatry-free Christmas. All the best.”
Same to you Dragon Slayer, I wish you and your family the best always.
Patrick Landman, the chairman of Stop DSM France, has blogged on MIA. And Eric Maisel, another MIA blogger, interviewed him about France’s Stop DSM movement, in a March 31, 2016 Psychology Today article.
“National Socialism (German: Nationalsozialismus), more commonly known as Nazism (/ˈnɑːtsi.ɪzəm, ˈnæt-/), is the ideology and set of practices associated with the 20th-century German Nazi Party in Nazi Germany and of other far-right groups. Usually characterized as a form of , Nazism’s development was influenced by German nationalism (especially Pan-Germanism), the Völkisch movement and the anti-Communist Freikorps paramilitary groups that emerged during the Weimar Republic after Germany’s defeat in the First World War.” What are you not clear at? “Fascism that incorporates scientific racism and antisemitism.”
Liberals are an another story. So again, what are you confused about.
I was confused because you said that your family members were fighting the Nazis and also liberals in WWII.
Remarkable how that one political move by Hitler and his cohorts to incorporate the word “socialist” into their party name to confuse and confound joe public, even now, 70 or so years after the fact, continues to confuse and confound joe public.
Liberals were in Vietnam, republic of. Please see my posting above, hopefully that ends your confusion.
Liberals were in Vietnam (for the most part not because because they didn’t have a choice), republic of. There is use for everyone in society, even liberals, again, too each their own.
Society should not be able to dictate what individuals can or can’t do. Unfortunately, the government (state/federal) has has a definite different view on that subject matter.
Please see my posting above, hopefully that ends your confusion.
Clearly, this has nothing to do with Dr. K’s article, only my family tree in fighting /Nation sovereignty/slavery & oppression/and fascism (Peoples rights/Civil War/WW1/WW2) This dates back to the revolutionary war, the Civil war and WW1 & WW2. I fought the soldiers of Iraq. I saw friends die protecting the the rights of those back home. Those unwilling to fight, therefore liberals who enjoy the freedom that us in the service provided, then and now, consistently provide negative feedback or a lack of support. Example, hippies spitting on service men returning to this country. Clearly, those men in Vietnam didn’t want to go but they did (drafted), many died, and many more were wounded and disabled permanently, I have a family member that would attest to but he is dead. I ask where were the liberals in all of this, safe at home, at least most of them. Apples to oranges here fellas and gals.
Those unwilling to fight, therefore liberals who enjoy the freedom that us in the service provided, then and now, consistently provide negative feedback or a lack of support.
Those service members fought for “freedom” so everyone at home should be forced to praise war and the military?
I recommend that you read General Smedley Butler’s War is a Racket: http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/warracket.html.
Clearly, this has nothing to do with Dr. K’s article, only my family tree in fighting /Nation sovereignty/slavery & oppression/and fascism (Peoples rights/Civil War/WW1/WW2) These dates back to the revolutionary war, the Civil war and WW1 & WW2. I fought the soldiers of Iraq. I saw friends die protecting the the rights of those back home.
Those unwilling to fight, therefore liberals who enjoy the freedom that us in the service provided, then and now, consistently provide negative feedback or a lack of support.
Clearly, those men in Vietnam didn’t want to go but they did (drafted), many died, and many more were wounded and were disabled permanently, I have a family member that would attest to but he is dead. For those that are wounded and permenitaly disabled, I salute you as defenders of the faith. I ask where were the liberals in all of this, safe at home, at least most of them. Apples to oranges here fellas and gals.
WTF? How is this related to anything here? Sounds like you & yours were seriously fucked over by the military — and on top of it they convinced you it was in defense of me? Sorry you drank the Kool-Aid. (Is this what people here mean by “gaslighting”?)
Again back to the politics, this is one man’s opinion and I agree with what he wrote. Clearly, he is 100% correct in that few profit and many die. That’s life in general today as it was yesterday. Do our elected officials represent you and I, no, they represent big lobbyist groups. Isn’t everyone elected to the congress or senate a millionaire?
“But the soldier pays the biggest part of the bill.” General Smedley, chapter 3. This was my point in regard to my family history, clearly as I didn’t want to get into politics, or money. War has always been a way to get a stagnate economy going as this is nothing new nor will it ever change. The problem that we have in this country is that are millionaires (elected officials) write laws and serve big business before they will serve the regular people in the US.
The senate has no term limits, they can be found guilty of felonies and still serve and get a pension. In the military, if your convicted of a crime, or serve time, you will get dishonorably discharged, you, yes you, can lose your retirement from the service after serving faithfully for years, but not if your a senator.
Again, I’m not a big fan of liberalists who complain constantly but enjoy the freedoms and rights provided by our founding fathers (amendments). These were granted to the American people by the military victory over the English. I also find no value in politicians because they don’t represent the people.
Liberalism at its best was witnessed last evening when I went to my daughters 9th grade band concert last evening, Listened to 12 different songs, guess how many had anything to do with the holiday, none. That is what liberalism has done to this country because clearly the schools don’t want to offend anyone.
If you understand that war is usually fought for profit and that the working class routinely gets sent to slaughter solely for the benefit of the rich and corporations, then why is your anger directed at people who denounce war and not at the people who benefit from it financially while putting your loved ones at risk?
It also brought about unions, or did you forget. How many managers work work 40 hour weeks? Answer is 0. War is unnecessary, however; liberalism is not needed either, support from the liberalists is. If anyone spit on me getting off a plane, well, they better have a good dentist.
You states,”people who denounce war and not at the people who benefit from it financially while putting your loved ones at risk? Well that’s just a fact in life, bottom line is to get the job done from a military perspective and get home in one piece.
The military has no choice in what the government wants to do nor the rich. The most important thing in the military is the man on either side of you, that’s all you care about besides the mission. Liberalists can’t understand this fact because they waiver way too much and don’t put their respective neck on the line and stay home and enjoy the freedoms provided by the military.
Why did you remove your earlier post regarding General Smedley. He stated the facts, but he’s no genius. He’s stating the facts that has continued onto today?
I can understand why you confused and that’s my fault. My nephew did three tours in Vietnam (65-68). He told me repeatedly how he was spit on in airports, called a baby killer, by “liberal hippies, and had dog poo thrown at him,” all while defending his country. I asked why he continued to go back, and his answer was he didn’t want to see anymore 18 year olds die.
For the record, he died in 1970, falling asleep at the wheel attending law college in Albany, NY. I still have his trumpet and I miss him as I miss my cousin that was killed in Beirut in 1982.
Ditto @ Uprising. Haven’t seen this level of forest-for-the-trees type confusion for some time, as this guy still apparently fails to recognize the tragic lessons of falling for imperialist rhetoric.
Don’t confuse “liberalism” with “political correctness.” Political correctness is an illness of both sides if the aisle, as Trump’s recent orders to his agencies about what words they’re not allowed to use clearly prove. The real enemy is authoritarianism, the belief that there are some who have a right to exercise their authority over others arbitrarily and without basis in reality.
Liberalism brought us 40-hour weeks, minimum wages, healthcare benefits, vacation and sick time, and safety provisions in the work place. And Americans and others around the world fought for and DIED for these goals. Plus there are plenty of liberals who have fought in wars, including my father. So it’s not true that “liberals” sit back and loaf while “conservatives” fight for freedom. There are also plenty of “conservatives” who make millions and billions off of unnecessary war and never put themselves at risk of any kind of danger. Our current President is one such, as our many of our representatives.
Freedom takes many forms and many have fought for it in many different ways. The liberal-conservative split is an intentional fiction that has been pushed by those in power to keep citizens fighting against each other and prevent them from joining forces. Things are not going to get better until those of us who are not in power get together and stop buying into these false divisions like black/white, liberal/conservative, urban/rural and start realizing that those in positions of power want to keep us from getting together and forcing them to cough up some of their power.
Liberalism brought us 40-hour weeks, minimum wages, healthcare benefits, vacation and sick time, and safety provisions in the work place.
More precisely, it was organized working class resistance to capital that brought us these things.
Exactly. And such people were branded “communists” and blackballed or even attacked for not kowtowing to the monied elite.
Many were communists — and proudly!
You said, “Don’t confuse “liberalism” with “political correctness.” Political correctness is an illness of both sides if the aisle, as Trump’s recent orders to his agencies about what words they’re not allowed to use clearly prove.” Trump is an idiot, were stuck with him, clearly I don’t confuse “liberalism” with “political correctness.” I simply don’t like liberalism and the media these days seems to dictate “political correctness because they can’t get to Trump.
“The real enemy is authoritarianism, the belief that there are some who have a right to exercise their authority over others arbitrarily and without basis in reality.” To me, sounds like England. Queen whoever. Liberals hate authoritarianism, but sometimes it’s a necessary tool.
Liberals don’t like to be told what they will and won’t do. Real Americans don’t have an issue, I clearly don’t find an issue with questioning authority, but in war, people die and I do have an issue with that Steve. Ever have to write a letter home stating that someones son was killed, I bet not. Better yet, visiting that family when you get home to discuss their sons death.
“Plus there are plenty of liberals who have fought in wars, including my father. So it’s not true (OK, one example) that “liberals” sit back and loaf while “conservatives” fight for freedom.” Your father is and was a hero. He served his country regardless of the political factor, millionaires getting richer. I appreciate his service to our nation and his sacrifice.
“Freedom takes many forms and many have fought for it in many different ways. The liberal-conservative split is an intentional fiction that has been pushed by those in power to keep citizens fighting against each other and prevent them from joining forces. Things are not going to get better until those of us who are not in power get together and stop buying into these false divisions like black/white, liberal/conservative, urban/rural and start realizing that those in positions of power want to keep us from getting together and forcing them to cough up some of their power.”
Actual fighting where your life is on the line (war) and your behind is safe at home fighting is two different things. Seems pretty clear to me Steve, and I would think you would agree. Not comparing apples to oranges here based on your comment.
“Things are not going to get better until those of us who are not in power get together and stop buying into these false divisions like black/white, liberal/conservative, urban/rural and start realizing that those in positions of power want to keep us from getting together and forcing them to cough up some of their power.”
Couldn’t agree more, term limits need to be established for the Senate. Skin color means nothing to me, and I believe that know one owes anything to anybody in our society. My family from the 1700″s didn’t own slave nor did anyone since did. In my opinion, you earn your position in this country through education and hard work. If your lazy, well your options are limited. If that’s conservative, so be it.
It’s quite obvious that people in power will never release their hold on those people that are not (millionaires are interested in profiting themselves.” The answer is term limits for the Senate. Get these old farts out of office. Their not connected to the public and that’s problem number #1. They don’t represent, except for lobbyist groups or big corporations.
Your good in my book Steve.
I’m with you on term limits, except that we also have to stop corporate campaign contributions as well, as that is the largest factor creating corruption in our representatives. It shouldn’t take 10 million dollars to run a campaign, and campaign funding should not require becoming subservient to ANY special interests, whether left or right on the political spectrum. To do this will require a transcendence of the left-right split and a recognition that ALL working people have common interests in preventing the takeover our our government by rich multinational corporations.
I agree about laziness – we should not reward people for doing nothing. But I have to add that accusing people as a group of “laziness” denies certain realities that impede progress and set unfair and unnecessary barriers for certain subgroups of Americans. To use your example, the fact that slavery ended in the 1800s does not mean that all or even most barriers are gone, as any honest reading of recent history should make clear. Black folks and Native Americans, in particular, can do the same hard work and not get so far ahead for a lot of reasons. Consider just one example: many poor white men (including my dad) came home from WWII and took advantage of the GI Bill, including buying a house in the ‘burbs for $30k. They sold the house in 2008 for $750 K. No black person could possibly have bought that house, no matter how hard they worked – the owners would not have sold it to them, and the banks would not have lent them money, and if they did buy it, the property value would have gone DOWN as white people fled the neighborhood. Many such families expanded their wealth in a large way by investing in real estate. Not something black families could do at the time.
Just one of many examples. Not saying it’s valid to say, “Hey, society is screwing us over, so screw them!” but I don’t think it’s a fair analysis to suggest that everyone has anything remotely close to a “level playing field” in the USA today. And that’s not even mentioning poverty as a limiting factor that affects people of all races and genders.
Oh, and many unionists and supporters DID die fighting for rights we take for granted today, so if “life on the line” is the criterion, there were plenty who took that risk and some who paid the price. There are also many, many deaths that result from the current corporate capitalist culture where folks don’t even have a chance to identify their enemy, let alone fight back.
Here’s a link that talks about this concept in a “mental health” context. Inequality really is a serious impediment to healthy living!
BTW, I think the two of us together in a room could map out a lot of good solutions. I personally think that “liberal” and “conservative” ideas are like yin and yang – you need both in balance to create a good society. Unfortunately, we lately seem to be going in the opposite direction!
Couldn’t agree more Steve. Your wisdom speaks for itself.
personally think that “liberal” and “conservative” ideas are like yin and yang – you need both in balance to create a good society.
OMG Steve — I can’t believe you would say this. “Liberal/Conservative” are not even two sides of the same coin; they are both the same side, with different idiosyncrasies, and they are both solidly capitalist. The pendulum swinging right and left swings back & forth between bourgeois dictatorship and socialism, not liberalism and conservatism. Nor has this anything to do with democracy and personal beliefs, as the latter don’t matter anyway if you don’t have capital with which to enforce them. Who cares if a homeless person is “liberal” or “conservative”?
Liberalism brought us 40-hour weeks, minimum wages, healthcare benefits, vacation and sick time, and safety provisions in the work place.
Actually it was the threat of socialism, not liberalism per se.
as Trump’s recent orders to his agencies about what words they’re not allowed to use clearly prove. The real enemy is authoritarianism
Actually “evidence-based” was one of those terms, which we should applaud.
The real enemy is capitalism btw. Liberals, for all their protesting, are not anti-capitalist and not “leftists.”
Lawrence wrote, “When did I ever suggest salvaging any part of psychiatry? All I suggested is re-educating the public about there sometimes being unconscious issues causing our feelings/behaviors, to counteract psychiatry’s lies about societally-disapproved of feelings/behaviors being caused by genetic/chemical defects.”
But these “unconscious issues” is a concept which serves in the same capacity as the concepts of “mental illness” and “genetic/chemical” defects. Its saying, “No, don’t follow your basic instincts to fight back against abusers. Don’t try to jail them or sue them. Don’t do anything. Sumbit to our society’s authorities because you have unknown unconscious force ( read Satan ) working in you. You must doubt your feelings and instincts. You must stuff your feelings and learn to live in an unjust world without complaint. Do not fight to restore your public honor. Instead, learn to live by seeking pity. After all, you are the one who is responsible for all the difficulties you have had.”
Just like it is with psychiatry, psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, from Freud up to the present, are simply ways to further abuse survivors. And it targets survivors and juveniles being subject to abuse, because such persons are less able to defend themselves.
So psychoanalysis and psychotherapy should still fall within the international court definition of Crimes Against Humanity. It’s just talking advantage of vulnerable parts of the population.
Some might say the same of channelers, psychics, fortune tellers, and religion. But as these are not government licensed the way that psychotherapy is, they do not constitute the same sort of systematic abuse. They’re merely con-artists, nothing more.
Crimes against humanity are certain acts that are deliberately committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack or individual attack directed against any civilian or an identifiable part of a civilian population.
And Germany has written into its constitution the ability for NGO’s to prepare overseas indictments, even though none of the other nation’s laws are being broken. This how we should do it, besides lawsuits, get some international Crimes Against Humanity indictments. Psychiatry and Psychothearpy are systematic persecutions against vulnerable parts of the population. They target abuse survivors and children.
I would like to challenge the idea that mental illness is a myth…my psychiatrist(1966-1968)that really helped me never believed that he knew the cause of my mental illness….he saw psychiatry as a medical specialty that looked at the bio/psych/soc model of cause…my mental illness was a mix of all three…
my mental illness was not a myth…
I’m sorry for the blowback you are getting. I’m glad you found people who could help you where you were at. I’m afraid there are so many people who have been abused ‘by the system’ that they can’t entertain a different story. I wish the tent was bigger here at MIA, but like everywhere else, there are lines drawn which can’t be broken even if others outside those lines could make significant contributions to the goal of MIA.
wow sam….you understand
I was abused by the system also…
I am one of them…
but I want to search for the truth wherever…
I’ve never seen a purple cow either.
Look, littleturtle, myths are dead religions. I don’t think psychiatry capable of proving any “mental illness”. There is no proof. “Mental illness” is not a fact, “mental illness” is a belief. The cardinal belief, in fact, of the “mental health” religion. Psychiatrists and other “mental health” workers don’t have to prove “mental health”. “Mental health” is merely a matter of not receiving “mental health” “treatment”.
Admittedly, some people do seem to have a desire to be “sick” who are literally not “sick”. There’s hypochondria, for instance, and munchausen syndrome by proxy (criminally injuring people for the attention). Also, every other form of “mental illness” you can think of. (Or did he mean “disorder”, “disturbance”, or “mental health issue”, or “mental health problem”, or you name it.)
Have you ever seen the scenario presented, in one show or another, where the beggar, with or without crutch, is pretending to be a cripple in order to increase his take? There you go. Everybody’s got a crutch (Some say gimmick.) with “the reality” of “mental illness” because, basically, there is no “reality” to it.
the whole problem with how the rest of you approach LittleTurle is that you all don’t realize that you are being ‘authoritarian’ to her in the same way the psychiatrists were authoritarian when they declared the rest of you to be ‘mentally ill.’ And the more the rest of you try to ‘enlighten’ her from the ‘errors of her way’, the more she digs in and won’t listen. What ALL of us want from others is TO BE HEARD!!!!
It’s why I approach my wife’s d.i.d. issues very differently. I walk with her in them. Sure, from time to time I will voice my disagreements with the various girls. I tell them my eventual goal is to marry all of them. I tell them I believe they are all part of the girl I married 30 years ago (not the host, but the conglomerate). But for 99.9% of my time, I live in their world and validate THEIR perspective. And as they interact with me and I love them, care for them, and help them heal, my presence and example is slowly moving them toward a more healthy paradigm, but my arguments DO NOT do that for them.
I’m making no judgments about LittleTurtle either way. But if she feels she is mentally ill but has found help in that, I believe we should affirm her, walk with her, learn from her and her perspective, allow it to change us where we are incorrect (as my wife’s issues have MASSIVELY changed me and my character), and, who knows, maybe she’ll adjust a little too. But when the rest of you simply invalidate her, you all are doing the EXACT same thing as the psychiatrists, whom you hate, did to you.
Well stated. I agree. Why is it so important that Little Turtle be disabused of what she feels in her own life? It’s her experience and only she can describe it. This is her right and who are we to try to take that away and make her believe something that doesn’t necessarily compute to her. She is still an ally, no matter what and we need every last one of those that we can muster up.
The rest of you? I better try looking myself up. I suppose I can call my-selves the Clone Squad.
Okay, I’m bowing out here. Littleturtle is certainly entitled to, her you say, opinion.
Ally is a strong word. I’m not going so far yet.
“The rest of you?”
I guess I was thinking more of the corporate position here on MIA. “Mental illness” is a forbidden concept on this site. So, ‘the rest of you’ refers to the corporate MIA attitude. For those of us on the other side of things, the SO’s who have to live with the fallout of our loved one’s ‘issues’, I think we take a more nuanced position, at least I do.
I subscribe to the trauma model. My wife’s disorder is one of the few trauma-based disorders in the dsm, but since having migrated to MIA, I would say a trauma model would fit well with most/all dsm disorders. The brain/mind gets ‘traumatized’ and no longer functions as intended [and I do wonder if biology has at least a part in the brain’s ‘desire’ to sequester(dissociate) the trauma until it can be properly dealt with], but with help, if needed, it can heal, integrate the trauma into the personal narrative and move forward.
But it seems the desire on this site to scream ‘no mental illness’ because of the (correct) opposition to the current paradigm in mental health circles has clouded the reality that there are real-life consequences to mental trauma and simply saying there’s no ‘mental illness’ doesn’t make things magically better for the sufferers or their families. And though the trauma symptoms DON’T have to be permanent because of a permanent ‘mental illness’, they often are because of the lack of help and understanding.
littleturtle, you believe mental illness is real. I say it is just a way to marginalize the already abused.
I am not going to get on an anti-biological psychiatry bus…that will lead to a frontal assault and a form of warfare that wont deal with the problems….for us that have been abused…we better not abuse others in our search for the TRUTH..
littleturtle, Frontal assault? Well remember that psychiatry, psychotherapy, and recovery are deployed to rob us of our dignity, our honor. They only way one ever restores their honor and place in the world is by being willing to face frontal assaults.
There is not “TRUTH”, which can alleviate one of the need for this. Anything which says you can restore honor, or that you don’t need to restore honor, is just another denial system designed to keep you living in the very small social space which the abusers have left us with.
Although saying there’s no such thing as mental illness doesn’t magically make things better, I believe that saying people “have” a mental illness often instantly makes things worse in many ways, such as by implying that they are powerless to actively help themselves if they do want to change anything. It implies a lack of free will and resourceful adaptability, traits which if not used, prevent the individual from making use of their amazing abilities which humans have used to accomplish so many amazing things. It instead makes that person vulnerable, since they are more likely to passively rely on others’ help.
I’m sure you don’t follow my posts, but I whole heartedly agree in MIA’s stance against the current bio-medical model of mental health that is currently dominant. Where I diverge is where we go from there. As is so often the case, there is a tendency for extreme backlash when rejecting something. And I think that tendency is often in display by so many who have been abused by the mental health system on this website. I understand it. I try very hard to be as sensitive to it as I can, just like I am with how I treat my wife. But when discussing ideas, sometimes it’s a little difficult to be both ‘sensitive’ and accurate (at least how I see it).
Your reaction to ‘mental illness’ is likely based upon your experience in the very corrupted mental health system. But I kept my wife 100% out of that system. So neither she nor I have that view of ‘mental illness’. However, I never used that concept until I came to MIA. I tend to see most mental health issues simply as symptoms of the trauma that my wife and others have suffered, but even that I mostly keep to myself when I interact with my wife. For me to harp on her issues would be counterproductive. I focus on the goal with her (the complete cessation of the dissociation between the 8 girls) and am her biggest fan and cheerleader. And if you’ve read any of my other comments here, you would realize that I believe in her complete ability to heal.
My eureka day was when she said she ‘might’ have d.i.d. Unlike your attitude about mental illness, for us her diagnosis finally gave us hope that we could fix whatever was going on internally in her, and fortunately I never let her get sucked up into your world and so our hope has continued as I learned how to truly help her heal from the trauma and resultant dissociation.
“…often instantly makes things worse in many ways, such as by implying that they are powerless to actively help themselves if they do want to change anything. It implies a lack of free will and resourceful adaptability, traits which if not used, prevent the individual from making use of their amazing abilities which humans have used to accomplish so many amazing things. It instead makes that person vulnerable, since they are more likely to passively rely on others’ help. ”
Lawrence, you do understand the HUGE difference between an adult trauma victim and a childhood trauma victim, right?
I’ve often thought about the difference between my one sibling who was raped and my wife. My sister fought and clawed her way back to health, powering herself thru the trauma. But my wife repeatedly confided to me that she had ‘no idea what health looks like.’ And often I’m mystified by her apparently lackadaisical attitude about her healing, even now, after 10 years. Maybe she’s an anomaly, but I saw the same sentiments repeatedly on WordPress by other c.s.a. victims. And so I finally decided the ’empowerment’ movement that you are referring to, at least for my wife who has NEVER known anything but a trauma-paradigm as she was victimized when she was 2-years old, simply wouldn’t work.
And that’s why she and I work as a team. In many, many ways I carry her. I model for her healthy habits. As distasteful as it is to many experts I’m essentially ‘raising’ my wife, especially via the 7 littler girls. I’m always careful about her agency. I never make my love or our relationship be dependent upon her accepting my guidance in her healing, but I’m not going to apologize for doing what she needs. Maybe she’s unique and no one else in the world needs it…but I’m guessing from the feedback I’ve read that there are others who need what she needs.
Lawrence wrote, “…saying there’s no such thing as mental illness doesn’t magically make things better…”
Again, saying that the experience of distress, anger, or depression means that something must be wrong.
Survivor goes to a police station to report that she has been raped. What she hears is, “You came to the right place. We sure don’t want you to be carrying around distress, anger, or depression. We want to make things better so that you do not have to be a burden to society.”
My full statement was: “Although saying there’s no such thing as mental illness doesn’t magically make things better, I believe that saying people “have” a mental illness often instantly makes things worse…”, and it was said in response to samruck2’s saying: “Saying there’s no ‘mental illness’ doesn’t make things magically better”. So I was explaining why the “mental illness” concept is harmful, and that I am completely against its use. I am a Szasz follower, who as I said previously, was almost kicked out of my psychiatry training program due to expressing agreement with his views. I have always fought against labeling/diagnosing/pathologizing human feelings/reactions as ‘mental illnesses’. I oppose the medical model and believe it’s our society that’s ‘sick’; This has been the focus of all of my articles, in fact.
Keep writing and speaking out. As the only psychiatrist at MIA (and possibly among only a handful in the world) to take up a more radical ANTI-psychiatry type position, you are in a unique position to provoke a much needed discussion about these critical questions. Just take a look at the length of the comment section in this blog. And your other blogs have been equally as provocative in a good way.
While I do not agree with the thrust of your main theme in this particular blog (as I stated way back in the comment section) this blog has advanced a number of important debates in out movement, such as:
1) How do we assess the historical role of Freud?
2) What does it mean to be “anti-psychiatry?
3) Does “mental illness” exist”
4) What is the role of “biology” in determining human thought and behavior?
5) How do we sum up the strengths and weaknesses of Szasz’s contributions to the struggle against all forms of psychiatric abuse?
6) What is the role of Scientology in this movement and should we allow ourselves to work with them or any of their front groups?
These are all very important questions and hopefully this discussion in some way, both highlights the key issues of debate, and gets some of us closer to a more unified position.
I do agree that we need this debate, but only if it’s going to be a true debate. Usually it seems more like 2 camps refusing to discuss the hard issues…like much of the rest of our society.
I tried to discuss with Lawrence my intimate work with my wife, how I ‘think’ maybe, biology does have some role in the brain/mind’s habit of sequestering (dissociating) trauma and all the havoc that wreaks in a person’s attempts to heal: the neural atrophy and many other issues I’ve had to contend with as I help my wife heal the trauma and remove the dissociation. But he chose not to engage me for whatever reason.
I also was in a rather elongated discussion with Frank and LittleTurtle when Lawrence took one small statement I said and jumped into the conversation to misconstrue what I had been arguing for. I personally have NO use for the phrase ‘mental illness’ as I have NEVER seen my wife as mentally ill, crazy, or anything else. I simply see her as someone who was severely traumatized as a young child. I view her NO differently than I do someone with a broken leg. I don’t stigmatize someone with a broken leg: why would I stigmatize her? Unfortunately the healing process is MUCH longer and more convoluted when it comes to mental trauma and that’s where I disagree with the overreaction so many on this website have to the proper role (as I see it) for therapy.
So, again, Richard, I welcome debate as long as it’s true debate. I always appreciate your comments because you are respectful even of those with whom you disagree and often try to find points of agreements even with those whom you disagree on the main thrust of an article, just as you did here with Lawrence and his article.
Thanks for the positive feedback about my participation.
The “neuro atrophy” that you make reference to in regards to your wife’s issues could very much be related to the prolonged use of psychiatric drugs.
no the neural atrophy I’m referring to has to do with the concept of neural plasticity. My wife has never used any psychiatric drugs.
Thank you for your support, and for your excellent summary. I believe that we learned from each other and have found a way to work as a team, which is what we all need to do if we are to have a realistic chance of succeeding at our goals.
my final statement…
I have a mental illness…
I have been abused by the psychiatry system…
the psychiatry system is sick…but i will not abuse it..
i believe in the bio/psych/soc model of causation…
we really don’t know very much about thought and mood problems…
even though i am very old i am fighting to get at the TRUTH…
Yes, I hear you LittleTurtle. It is unfortunate that Robert Whitaker’s critical psychiatry view is being lost on this site as more and more on this site are turning anti-psychiatry.
Did you consider the fact that people become anti-psychiatry as they become more educated and informed about the fact psychiatry is a dangerous pseudo science whose practitioners have been labelling, poisoning, shocking and injuring ppl for too long. Psychiatry with its insulin comas and lobotomies and shock is a useless, dangerous, stupid entity and no amount of “criticism” or “reform” is needed. It needs to be put down, dismantled, nuked.
littleturtle – I applaud your determination to “get at the TRUTH.” I am interested to know however why you came to the conclusion that you “have mental illness.” Did you conclude that yourself?
dear nancy99—-thanks…I decided that myself…I have had several close friends kill themselves…I think about the stigma of being called mentally ill..
my friends were called mentally ill…well I want to stand up for all of us.. and say I am mentally ill also …what do you all out there want to say about that…
I have had an awful mood disorder with 3 disabling breakdowns….I will stand there and be a human being that is EQUAL to all the abusers out there…
Thank you for being willing to share your story in a somewhat hostile environment. I won’t pretend to completely understand, but I do applaud your desire to stand against ALL abusers and with your lost friends. You are MORE than equal to those who would harm another person.
Dear littleturtle: So, it was you who assigned yourself the label of “mental illness”! How can we rely on such subjective assessments! 🙂
This is why I really like Buddhist descriptions of the mind. According to these teachings, all human beings are constantly seeking gain, honour, happiness and praise while avoiding loss, dishonour, sadness and blame. This is how most of us spend our entire lives. We get angry and sad when we are criticised and get happy when we are praised. Even in the comments here we see many examples of this! 😀
Now, when we feel sad, if we “feed” on these mind-states (that is, constantly ruminating and thinking “oh my loss, how terrible!”), these mind states grow in power. In contrast, when we learn to let go (by practicing mindfulness of the present moment) we gradually cultivate what is known as “eudaimonic well-being,” which is a durable form of happiness that is not dependent on circumstances and involves peace and contentment. Eudaimonic happiness has been found to be a powerful predictor of positive mental health.
So, littleturtle, something I can suggest you to do is to gradually develop mindfulness practices. This is something I have myself greatly benefited from.
I agree with you, “Nancy99”, and want to add that one of the best ways to “develop mindfulness”, indirectly, is to read any of the books by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama of Tibet. His books can be found in any library or bookstore, and they are always simple, – but not simplistic, – and easy to read. And they seem to just get better every time I read them! (I would hope that “littleturtle” doesn’t take any of the comments here too personally. Some of the comments might seem harsh, or too critical, but I think it’s her *statements* that are being criticized, and not *her*, or her experience. That’s my hope, anyway….)….
Thank you Bradford. I haven’t read too many books by the Dalai Lama, however, I have heard that they are quite good. I learnt mindfulness directly from a Sri Lankan teacher.
For anyone who wants to know how mindfulness works and how the mind is explained in Buddhist teachings, I suggest reading the following academic publication:
Karunamuni, N., and Weerasekera, R. (2017). Theoretical Foundations to Guide Mindfulness Meditation: A Path to Wisdom. Current Psychology.
[This article is publicly available from the following MindRxiv preprint website link: https://mindrxiv.org/mfs63/ ]
I think all this discussion raises the important question “what is normal”? If we consider normal to be “happy, happy, all the time” then we will all conclude that we have mental problems.
This is why subjective experience is very important – one maybe very sad throughout his/her life, but yet consider themselves to be normal. Another person may not be that sad, but any sadness they have maybe interpreted as abnormal and needing some sort of “treatment.”
Thank you, Dr. Kelmenson, for this well-written and insightful article. I agree with you that many in our profession are far too quick to dismiss Freud as a psychiatric flat-earther, and many in the so-called antipsychiatry movement overlook the lessons he could teach about the medicalization of human suffering. Not even Szasz negated the problems faced and posed by those described as mentally ill. As you assert, the Freudian model–with all of its flaws–is consistent with an approach that sees human beings as moral agents, arbiters of their own happiness–not biological organisms at the mercy of their genes and brains. In many ways, Szasz’s Ethics of Psychoanalysis is an attempt to return psychiatry to this original Freudian model. It is vitally important for us in the field–and for those allied with us in the so-called antipsychiatry movement–to realize Freud’s vast contributions to human understanding and “mental illness.”
Mr. Ruffalo, can you please provide evidence for your assertion that the Freudian model is consistent with an approach that sees human beings as moral agents, arbiters of their own happiness- not biological organisms at the mercy of their genes and brains? Could you please provide evidence that Szasz’s Ethics of Psychoanalysis is an attempt to return psychiatry to this original Freudian model? Specifically, could you provide evidence from Szasz’s writings that such is the case? Why do you refer to the “so-called” antipsychiatry movement? And why do you assume that those who with good reason oppose psychiatry would be allied with people in “the field”? What exactly are Freud’s vast contributions to human understanding and “mental illness”? What sort of lessons does Freud teach us about the medicalization of human suffering? If anything, as Szasz rightly indicates, Freud’s theories actually contributed to the medicalization of human suffering.
Throughout the Ethics of Psychoanalysis and much of Szasz’s early writings, he praises Freud for his development of a contractual, autonomous helping arrangement which was in stark contrast to the authoritarian psychiatry of his time. Freud’s contributions–as Szasz routinely pointed out–consisted of a conceptualization of human suffering as being driven by inter- and intra-personal conflicts. Szasz deviated from the analytic assertion regarding the existence of the “unconscious,” but he nonetheless agreed with the emphasis placed by psychoanalysis on personal autonomy and self-direction. In Ethics, Szasz even states that his method is very much consistent with Freud’s and other great psychoanalytic thinkers. Dr. Kelmenson rightly points this out.
I refer to “so-called antipsychiatry” as such because Szasz and I are not anti-psychiatry. The distinction is to be made between coercive psychiatry and contractual psychiatry–not psychiatry and anti-psychiatry. Szasz abhorred the term and any association with it.
Psychiatry is a pseudoscience, a drug racket, and a means of social control. It’s 21st Century Phrenology with potent neuro-toxins. So, it goes without saying that I’m just as “anti-psychiatry” as I am “anti-Nazi”. And, there are few people who even know who Freud is, who do NOT think he’s a psychiatrist. Personally, I find your defense of Freud appalling. He should be tossed on the scrap heap of history, along with “alienists”, and phrenologists.
Psychiatry is a pseudoscience, a drug racket, and a means of social control. It’s 21st Century Phrenology, with potent neuro-toxins…..
You remind me of some poor cabin boy bringing fresh sheet music to the band playing on the poop deck of the Titanic…..
Mark – May be best to leave the word “psychiatry” out altogether. For many, it sends chills down the spine…
I believe that Szasz was an “Antipsychiatrist” (common usage of the term) because he believed that “mental illness” was a myth. Szasz abhorred the term because he was an anti-authoritarian and supported any “contractual” relationship between adults (including one whereby a “psychiatrist” preaches mumbo jumbo).
Szasz was anti-psychiatry in essence, he just defined his philosophy differently than many. Plus he didn’t like the term because at that time it was associated with Cooper, Laing, etc.
Szasz learned as he went along, I suppose, just like the rest of us, because in his later works he denounces Freud in no uncertain terms. His book “The Ethics of Psychoanalysis,” came long before “The Myth of Psychotherapy” and even before “Anti-Freud: Karl Kraus’s Criticism of Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry.” Those titles alone should demonstrate that whatever Szasz’s early praise for Freud (of which I am still skeptical), he demolishes Freud’s pretenses from many different angles. Szasz’s books “Cruel Compassion,” “Coercion as Cure,” and “Psychiatry: The Science of Lies,” more accurately embody Szasz’s mature thinking, including his position on Freud. Szasz was not “antipsychiatry” in the sense of the term as it was used in his time, as he makes clear in his book “Antipsychiatry: Quackery Squared.” Szasz rejected the feigned “antipsychiatry” of people like Cooper and Laing, and he rejected the term because of the way it was used as a justification for more coercive psychiatry. While it is true that Szasz promoted liberty and responsibility as opposed to coercion and force, and while it is true that Szasz mainly opposed what he considered to be “coercive psychiatry” or “non-consensual psychiatry,” he did so in such a way as to leave little doubt about the true history and nature of psychiatry. Szasz was right about many things, but his attempt to suggest that there is such a thing as “consensual psychiatry” doesn’t quite fit with the rest of his work. In reality there is no distinction between “coercive psychiatry” and “consensual psychiatry,” because as Szasz well knew but struggled to articulate, psychiatry is inherently coercive and it always has been. This is where Szasz’s libertarian streak gets him into trouble because he pretends that freedom means the freedom to do whatever one likes, including the freedom to commit suicide or to enter into “consensual” psychiatric relationships. Szasz abhorred the term “antipsychiatry” for the reasons that he outlines in his book “Antipsychiatry: Quackery Squared,” but his thought is more in line with those who oppose psychiatry today than with those who would attempt to vindicate and resurrect Freud. It is much more than a stretch to attempt to appropriate Freud as an antipsychiatrist, and even more so to attempt to appropriate Szasz as a pro-Freudian psychoanalyst.
Funny thing, huh, Steve? How can a man pen a book called The Myth of Mental Illness, and pretend to be a specialist in the study of “mental illness”?
I think “coercion” and “consensual” have very definite meanings, Dragon Slayer, and I don’t think psychiatry cancels those meanings out. Thomas Szasz penned the books Fatal Freedom and Suicide Prohibition, too, and I think he was very correct in doing so. Part of the problem we have is that if you use suicide prevention as an excuse to force treatment on people you are at the same time curtailing their freedoms, and treating them like children or sub-humans. Coercion is still coercion. When people are free to choose, they are not being compelled against their will and wishes.
Where I think Szasz erred, as I explained previously, is in bashing other unorthodox professionals. There is a wide gap between somebody like Jeffry Lieberman, and anybody who is likely to contribute to this website. Ditto, those who use this site, and Harvard psychiatrist Joseph Biederman, notorious for popularizing the concept of childhood bipolar disorder. Ditto, people like Tom Insel and Charles Nemeroff, even Robert Spitzer and Allen Frances. If he is going to add fuel to the fire, let that fire be directed against the real threat. I don’t think it is in Antipsychiatry: Quackery Squared. In other words, the real bad guys are the people in charge, and at the top of the psychiatric hierarchy, not the people who were experimenting, and doing things differently. Instead he gives bio-psychiatry more weapons in its arsenal against their official boogeyman antipsychiatry. Bash Laing? He didn’t even like the term, and he’d been dead for 20 years. Silence would have been more discrete, and valorous as well.
Basically, if psychiatry is quackery, I don’t think antipsychiatry is quackery squared. I don’t, in other words, think alternative or critical psychiatry, in this case, quackery squared either.
Your points are well taken Frank, and I agree with you that any treatment of a human being as sub-human is wrong, and Szasz, more than most, defended liberty and responsibility. Of course “coercion” and “consensual” have definite meanings, and I think that your reading of Szasz is correct. However, as I and others have argued elsewhere, the notion of “consensual” psychiatry is just as much a chimera as most other psychiatric illusions. The reason is that most people who enter into ostensibly “consensual” psychiatric relations really don’t know what they’re getting themselves into. It’s a deception, thus it is still coercive. The freedom is not real because people are making a choice based on deceptive information. I also have criticisms of Szasz’s views on suicide, but he was right about the nonsensical and harmful suicide prevention schemes. But the fact remains that people are only free to choose when the alternatives are real, and when the facts are apparent. In other words, a person’s freedom is automatically curtailed by psychiatry, whether “consensual” or not, because entrance into the psychiatric system curtails your freedom. I understand the argument about people being free to kill themselves or to take drugs. At least in those cases people are free in the sense that they know what they are getting themselves into (or out of). But most people who enter into “consensual” psychiatric relationship don’t realize that what they are actually doing is relinquishing their freedom. Like Szasz, I oppose coercion, but I oppose it in all its forms, even its more deceptive forms. As far as the quackery problem, I agree with you that the real bad guys are the ones at the top who are orchestrating this orgy of human suffering. However, I push back a bit because even when those guys have gone the way of all the earth, the dangerous ideas may still be present. Laing and company were certainly not as dangerous as any of the major psychiatric overlords, but they were still wrong about psychiatry and “antipsychiatry.” Perhaps Szasz should have focused more on combatting the major psychiatric overlords than on the quackery squared idea, but I won’t begrudge him that after all of the great work that he did do. There is “antipsychiatry” and antipsychiatry. Fake “antipsychiatry,” along with alternative and critical psychiatry are only enemies insofar as they dilute the message of the complete abolition of psychiatry.
Deception is not coercion. Deception is deception. However, were psychiatry consensual and non-coercive, you’ve got less of problem there. Misinformed consent is still consent. When you say “psychiatric system” I imagine you are talking about the public “mental health” system. Not all psychiatrists are in the public “mental health” system, some of them are in private practice.
I’m not for “the complete abolition of psychiatry”. I, as a victim of forced treatment, am for the abolition of forced treatment, that is, the abolition of non-consensual coercive psychiatry, as was Thomas Szasz. Abolish psychiatry, and if you haven’t abolished forced treatment with it, you haven’t accomplished much. Psychologists, social workers, and “mental health” workers have been generally complicit and in collusion with psychiatry. 1. You need the people to get rid of psychiatry, and 2. if you just get rid of psychiatry, you’ve got these others who can be just as bad. As I see it, the problem isn’t psychiatry, it’s forced treatment.
I’m not for seeing a psychiatrist, but if psychiatry wasn’t coercive, they certainly couldn’t force themselves upon me as they can now. I consider myself antipsychiatry, but I don’t think it is my job to make the same decision for everybody else. Some people are going to be duped. The problem is the law, mental health law, and the problem is not the profession of psychiatry, at least, in part. I do have a big problem with psychiatrists making everything out to be an “illness”, and drumming up business by doing so. This “epidemic” we’ve got started with forced institutionalization, end forced institutionalization, and you will have done something about it. It’s not as easy to sell “mental health” to someone when they’ve got the legal right, something they don’t have at present, to say “no”.
i just thought of something…could this anti-psychiatry thing have to do with the old war between psychiatry and psychology…psychologist against the psychiatrist…and a lot of us are getting pulled into their warfare…it may have nothing to do with truth….it may have to do with POWER..yes
I don’t think so. I think it is about control, yes, but about whether the client should be put in more control or if the professional is supposed to control the client. There are plenty of psychologists who believe in controlling the client and a few odd psychiatrists who believe in empowering clients. But the DSM system is 100% about the professional dictating to the client, usually in the absence of evidence that following their orders is even likely to be helpful in the long run.
Have you read Anatomy if an Epidemic?
steve–doctors have the upper hand…people want pills…and doctors are there to give them….the money goes to doctors…..people want a quick fix and psychology cant provide that….what do you think…
I think that’s very accurate. The other thing is, a lot of those who provide such services have not dealt with their own issues. So instead of being there and supporting their clients, they try to “make the bad feelings go away” because THEY feel uncomfortable, not because it’s good for the client. Unfortunately, the DSM plays right into this – instead of understanding what’s going on, we can label it as “bipolar disorder” and blame it on the client. Clients also are afraid of facing their historical pain, and psychiatrists give them an “out” by saying “It has nothing to do with your past – it’s just brain chemicals.” Also makes it easier to blame kids for not behaving instead of learning new parenting/teaching techniques.
Basically, psychiatry works for those in power and less and less the lower you are on the power scale. I believe that power imbalances are really at the center of most “mental illness” symptoms, and resolving abuse of authority is the best way to stop “mental illness” for ever developing.
I am an antipsychiatrist because I consider mental distress to be natural emotional suffering or other natural problem with living. Psychiatry implies that mental distress is a medical problem by virtue of it being a medical specialty; this worsens natural problems with living by ignoring real causation (and drugging real emotions).
Frank and DS:
I believe it is a gray area between choice and coercion: First of all, children who are given “medicine” for their “disease” at age 5 cannot be said to have the capacity/freedom to make an informed choice. In some cases, parents submit in order to not face severe consequences from schools, CPS, or family court for not complying with “treatment”. Then there’s the issue of cultural indoctrination. Children raised during the past 25 years were from birth exposed to only one way of looking at things (the medical model) by their school, health care providers, government, informational websites, media, highest learning/research/science centers, and often their parents. I would compare this to how a child who is only exposed to one language can only learn that language – how could he learn one that he never heard anyone speak? Similarly, how could a child be said to have the choice to learn other ways of understanding things besides the medical model, if never exposed to alternative points of view? (Szasz and MIA are not exactly mainstream yet.) What’s occurring in our society is similar to the complete brainwashing in “Brave New World”. Psychiatry has almost always been about social control; it just has different ways of achieving coercion, some more subtle (and on a much grander scale) than others.
I don’t see any gray area between choice and coercion. Coercive psychiatry, like coercive sex, like coercive labor, like coercive injury, etc., should be outlawed.
Good point about children. Psychiatrists should not be diagnosing them anyway. Of course, there might be exceptions, but those exceptions would be exceptions. As is, pediatric psychiatrists are some of the worst of the bunch. Bad parents thrive on them.
Precisely. Now there’s some solid reasoning. It’s good to get away from this disastrous attempt to rehabilitate Freud and to discuss something of substance. The simplest definition of evil is anything that makes children suffer. Psychiatry is causing suffering in children to an unprecedented degree. Aldous Huxley and other dystopian novelists perceived things in the past that are now a regular part of the present, even though most people don’t notice them. Think of Soma. Think of Orwell’s telescreens, and so forth. Some of the coercion, as you mentioned, is subtle. A lot hinges on how we understand freedom, because not everyone understands freedom as it really is. Liberty is a gift, and it doesn’t mean just doing whatever the heck one likes. And liberty depends upon the knowledge and ability to make correct choices that lead to desired and desirable consequences. True knowledge and understanding about the real nature of psychiatry is very difficult to come by. Propaganda is widespread. Fiction is pervasive. Hoaxes abound. The myth of mental illness is one of the major, governing myths in our society. It will take an effort of colossal proportions to expose this myth and to eliminate it. Nothing is truly consensual unless the person truly knows what he or she is getting himself or herself into. Deception is a form of coercion, and psychiatry is rife with deception.
Lawrence, obviously Freud said and wrote different things at different times. And I know that in the US Freudianism quickly gave way to ego therapy. But nevertheless, the most important thing about Freud is that in his ‘Interpretation of Dreams’, he backstabbed his early patients, the 16 women hysterics. Whereas he had taken the childhood sexual molestations they described at face value, wanting to restore his own professional standing, he recanted. He came out with his ideas about infantile sexual desires and fantasies. So from that moment onwards,psychoanalysis and psychotherapy have been about the quest to find Original Sin in the sufferer. They may not call this ~~mental illness~~, but it is actually the very reason that the concept of mental illness caries so much weight.
Now today, because of laws about mandatory reporting, something the therapists in private practice seem to have little understanding of, but those in public practice do understand; a therapist is not going to tell their client that they are fantasying, not anymore. But they still will dismiss the significance of the report because their whole practice is based on convincing clients that they should not seek redress for past wrongs and injustices. But that somehow they should make learning to live in an unjust without complaint into a self improvement project. The therapist is continuing what the parents did.
The client is already someone who has had a hard time making their way in the world. They are injured. They feel that they need to seek approval. And this is where the licensed therapist really takes advantage of them.
The client’s painful and difficult experiences show them that our world is extremely unfair and that many types of abuse are entirely socially sanctioned. But the therapist is never going to be a path to any other type of experience. Rather, the therapist is just an agent of lies and denial.
To find something other, one would have to team up with radicals. And if the client is to really understand their own hard experiences they are going to have to team up with radicals. But the client’s problem, more often than not, is that they are still trying to live up to the standards and expectations of their parents. Though the therapist might not immediately look like it, not to one without much experience with therapists, the therapist completely supports the parents and the lies and denial of our society. This is why they are a therapist.
A work in progress:
Slaying–we are, for the most part, on the same page and fighting the same “enemy.” Szasz did indeed practice “psychotherapy” and employed analytic techniques. He realized that people can and do have “problems”–some of them, in fact, are “crazy.” You are right in your assertion that later in his career he distanced himself from all things Freudian and saw Freud as just another psychiatric charlatan. However, I do find value in some of his earlier writings which do apply some analytic ideas.
Of course Szasz practiced “psychotherapy,” because he was a “psychiatrist.” But he knew it was all a sham and he wrote as much in his books. I’m happy to support the combined effort to abolish psychiatry, and I’m grateful for those who are on the inside, so to speak, who are courageous enough to speak out against psychiatry. We are on the same page insofar as we, like Szasz, both wish to abolish psychiatry. I respectfully disagree with you and with Lawrence regarding your reading of Freud, and I think that Szasz would also disagree with you. People have “problems,” and people can act “crazy,” but a lot of those so-called “crazy” people with “problems” are “crazy” and have “problems” as a direct result of psychiatric abuse. In any case, I commend you and Lawrence for any efforts that you make toward exposing the truth about psychiatry and working toward its abolition. Have a merry psychiatry free Christmas. 🙂
Merry Christmas to you, as well, Slaying. I must point out that Szasz never wished to abolish psychiatry–he only wished to abolish coercive psychiatry. This is what differentiated him from others in “antipsychiatry.” Szasz recognized the value of an autonomous talking arrangement with a skilled helper. He said that it was for this reason that he continued to practice and teach as a professor of psychiatry. A quote from the Ethics of Psychoanalysis demonstrates his appreciation of Freud: “Freud’s great contribution lies in having laid the foundations for a therapy that seeks to enlarge the patient’s choices and hence his freedom and responsibility.” Szasz rightly saw that Freud created a new role for the psychiatrist as an agent of the patient rather than agent of society. And a quote from Freud which demonstrates agreement with Szasz on his basic premise: “All neurotics are malingerers; they simulate without knowing it, and this is their sickness.” There is more agreement here than most care to realize. I think this is what Dr. Kelmenson is asserting. Best wishes.
I wish I could leave your comment as is, but it would mislead the people who are reading these comments. Szasz wished to abolish coercive psychiatry, it is true, but as I’ve pointed out in other comments, psychiatry is by its very nature coercive. Szasz got it right that coercive psychiatry must be abolished, he just didn’t quite understand why psychiatry in and of itself coercive. There were many other things that differentiated him from the “antipsychiatry” of his time as well. Thank you for sharing those quotes. The Szasz quote demonstrates how much he changed his mind about Freud as he learned more and wrote more. That quote by Freud (source?) is even more misleading, however, because Freud built his career by manipulating so-called “neurotics.” Szasz tears apart the notion of “neurosis” in his book “Psychiatry: The Science of Lies.” The truth is that there is no such thing as a “neurotic” since the very term “neurosis” is based on pure fiction, just like the terms “schizophrenia” or now, “bipolar” or “ADHD.” In any case, thank you for sharing a few quotes out of context to attempt to concretize Lawrence’s highly problematic reading of Freud. In other words, I disagree with you still, but I do appreciate the effort to find quotations to support an erroneous thesis.
Well said, for all those that thought Szasz was perfect in his theories, raise their hand.
Szasz was not perfect, perhaps for his time (60’s-70’s), what are we talking about, almost 50 years. Come on, let’s be a little more realistic, Napoleon was awesome to a point, but in today’s history and the way war is conducted, he would be annihilated. Time changes everything, open your mind and your soul.
There are several current interpretations of “anti-psychiatry”; one is basically as a philosophical argument between professionals and others who nonetheless embrace the “mental health” system in one way or another.
The other is the actual political struggle of psychiatric inmates and “survivors” to expose, disempower, delegitimize and dismantle that system.
This is an important distinction, yes.
Well, I think we need to take a stand that actively opposes the mental health movement, you know, that thing that gave us the MHA, and later NAMI. The mental health movement, in my estimation, grew out of the asylum building movement of the 19th century (Dorothea Dix and company) that was attached to moral management. Both are anything but ‘leave ’em to their own devices’ movements, and as such, invasive, intrusive, and pro-force in general. The community mental health act of the early 1960s, what with assisted community treatment teams, assisted living facilities, and group homes, a big issue in and of itself, grew out of this movement, and has compounded the problems associated with it for us.
Agreeing with Frank.
the worst way to change psychiatry is this anti-psychiatry movement…the very best way is critical-psychiatry….Robert whitaker would agree…the trouble with people now is that they want to go to war about everything..you need to attack what is wrong about psychiatry…not the part that is right….underneath a lot of this fight is psychologists against doctors because the doctors are in power…the truth is not about power…it is about what works and is right on…you need to change hearts and minds..and you wont do it by fighting and abusing those not in power….
This is exactly the opposite of the truth, except that Whitaker’s books are useful because they help to expose the truth about psychiatry. This is not about going to war. It is about confronting evil and abolishing psychiatry. Anyone who understands the history of psychiatry knows that there is nothing right about it. You can’t eliminate evil simply by negotiation or by trying to appease it. What is needed is a Churchill-like approach to the evil of psychiatry, not a Neville Chamberlain approach.
And what is the part that is “right” about psychiatry? I’m willing to listen to any explanation but I myself have not found anything yet that I’d label as “right” about psychiatry. I’ve known some psychiatrists who are good men but they have absolutely no idea about dealing with people in distress. I’ve even had one psychiatrists admit to me that he knows that the drugs are harmful to people but does he do anything about it? Absolutely not. He goes right on forcing the damned things on people! Even other medical specialties laugh at psychiatry and state that psychiatrists are not doctors.
The best way to get rid of psychiatry is antipsychiatry. The profession arose out of forced treatment, the segregation and confinement of the mad. Stop forcing psychiatry on people, and people have options again, including the option of rejecting psychiatry.
Who’s out to change psychiatry anyway? Psychiatry is a misbegotten pseudo-science to begin with. Critical psychiatry? Their still trying to “heal souls”, aren’t they? Same pseudo-science department, only more critical, especially of biological reductivism.
The system is an easy out, Want to be “provided for” all your life, there’s chronicity for you. Consume mental health treatment services as a matter of routine, and that’s what you get. Social welfare of the artificially manufactured “disability” sort within, as one would figure, the would-be “socially acceptable”, government charity bureaucracy.
Want “mental health? There’s independence for you. It is literally not consuming (using) “mental health” services, or, in other words, antipsychiatry in action.
There’s a lot of talk on this site about abolishing psychiatry. This would imply removal of psychiatry as a medical specialty in all hospitals, a complete shutting down of all psychiatric wards everywhere, a complete abolition on medical licenses dished out relating to psychiatry and psychology.
Now, let’s imagine a world where this has happened. What do you do when some individuals believe that aliens are communicating with them via radiowaves? Who might make incisions into their bodies to remove a non-existent alien chip? People who are chronically psychotic, who hallucinate and see things which aren’t there and can literally do very little in terms of having a productive life? Now, if these people are non-violent and non-disruptive, there is no need to bother them. If some of them are non-violent but disruptive (like disrupting public spaces), they will be forcibly removed which may again make them violent and compel people to treat them in some form or the other.
I remember an absolutely psychotic woman who was totally unclean and used to roam around randomly, who would take up space in a small bus stand in the town where I lived in. She had to be removed from there because she was a nuisance for the people who had to board their buses. I once tried approaching this lady, simply out of curiosity, to ask her what her name was, and she ran towards me with a brick to hit me. I ran for my life. In a shrink’s office, this woman would definitely be labelled a “schizophrenic”. But that is not her truth.
Psychiatry for most of us who are coherent people able to think and write in a relatively logical manner is an absolute curse. This has nothing to do with maintaining voluntary relationships of listening and talking to people, nor with voluntary consumption of drugs. Neither of these things mandate the requirements for psychiatrists in between. Drug companies make drugs. Not psychiatrists. And drugs don’t take themselves. Psychiatrists either prescribe them to people or force them to take them and do not tell the whole truth about these pills. So, mostly, they are dangerous middle-men who label and defame people.
But, the existence of that small subset of individuals who are on the extreme end of the spectrum will always be a reason to have some sort of organisation/intervention to monitor and take care of them. Let’s say you abolish all of psychiatry. Well, something else will definitely take its place.
What I would like to see is firstly, an abolition of all forms of psychiatric DSM/ICD labelling. These labels are tautologies and truth-obfuscating. No wonder the public thinks of “schizophrenics and bipolars running amok on the streets”. A removal of these terms would imply that people get closer to thinking in terms of the truth. Some psychotic people may run amok on the streets. Some of them may have become like that due to abuse and others may be like that due to some inherent features. The former are people who may be hurt by psychiatry. The latter are people we can’t do much about. None of these people are “bipolar or schizophrenic”. Each person is who he/she is as an individual and has a truth (both biological and environmental) specific to them. So, in that sense, these labels are nonsense.
The truth is descriptive. “A person was born here. He had these circumstances growing up. These things happened to him. He did so-and-so things etc.”. Even biologically, the truth specific to an individual has nothing to do with the junk they are labelled with.
Also, due to a small subset of people, everyone else, who is hardly anything like them, is getting affected. Why butcher the lives of otherwise healthy males and females?
People here talk of abolition. But they mention absolutely no solutions as to what they would do with some of these individuals on the extreme end of the curve. Unless you find a solution to that, the public would NEVER agree to an abolition of psychiatry.
You people are really irrational to think that you could ever achieve that.
No, it’s *YOU* who are only partially rational, and you don’t go far enough. Psychiatry is a pseudoscience, a drug racket, and a means of social control. It’s 21st Century Phrenology, with potent neuro-toxins. We could easily abolish psychiatry, with very little notice to the general public. I’m here in small-town N.H., which is also the biggest city in this part of the State. In early 2016, the local private, “non-profit” hospital chain fired their child psychiatrist, and closed their adolescent “Mental Health Unit”, – 6 beds. A couple months later, they fired 30 staff, and closed their 12-bed adult “mental health unit”. Around that time, they spent $1.5Million to re-do their ER, and install several psych holding cells. The State-wide hospital/”healthcare” group, which runs the local hospital, “Dartmouth-Hitchcock”, also snagged the State contract to provide staff at the State Mental Hospital. There’s a State-wide “shortage” of psychiatrists. The State of N.H., through incompetence, crookedness and corruption, continues to FAIL to treat a small percentage of the population in a safe, effective, humane, and legal manner. Persons are still confined for days or weeks at a time in hospital emergency rooms’ holding cells. But psychiatry is on the ropes. There are still 1,000’s of people employed, at tax-payer expense, in the “mental health system”. People are still being neglected, abused, a DRUGGED. Some of them are my friends. I literally see it every day. So abolishing psychiatry is a *process*, not an “event”. Personally, I’d like to see MiA get stronger on the “anti-psychiatry” bandwagon, but I understand why they don’t. Psychiatry serves the “GREG B.’s”, the Global Ruling Elites and Global Banksters. For all other persons, psychiatry is nothing more than 21st Century Phrenology, with potent neuro-toxins. We can’t get rid of it fast enough. As for that unfortunate “crazy” woman you mentioned, psychiatry did NOTHING to help her, or she wouldn’t be in that predicament in the first place! We do NOT need the LIES of psychiatry….
(c)2017, Tom Clancy, Jr., *NON-fiction
Regarding your first paragraph, registeredforthissue, I wish.
Let me say straight off that unlike some people here I don’t say “abolish psychiatry”. I say instead abolish non-consensual coercive psychiatry, or, same thing, abolish forced treatment. I see force, deprivation of liberty, having been a victim of it, as more of a problem than the mere profession of psychiatry. Were forced (involuntary) mental health treatment abolished, so much the better. The position of Thomas Szasz was much the same. I can’t help it if other people are duped, and thus harmed, if I’m not duped myself. We should have the freedom we don’t have under the law, or rather a loophole in the law, to avoid (defend ourselves from) that harm. My view is that psychiatry would not be what it is today without the complicit collusion of related professions and fields, such as, psychology, social work, and other positions in the adult baby sitting business. Of course, we’ve got exceptions to the rule here at MIA, but I can’t ignore the fact that they are exceptions. I don’t imagine that forced mental health treatment itself would be abolished with the abolition of the profession of psychiatry, and as this is the case, my position is to call for, and demand, the abolition of forced mental health treatment instead.
Part of the problem with coercive psychiatry is that because it is seen as a civil matter rather than criminal, any time a person is committed to a mental health facility through a hearing their right to due process is violated. I would even give your crazy woman, this village idiot of yours, the right to a trial before I would see her incarcerated, even if the prison to which she would be confined claims to be a hospital. Locking this woman up without a trial, if we are to allude to the origin of the word, would be to show her an extreme lack of hospitality on our part. It would not be the courteous thing to do.
Just because the evil of institutional psychiatry has been around for a few centuries doesn’t mean that we can’t end it. Were we to do so, that would put us in a better place. I have to remain adamantly opposed to some of the wrongs that are being done to people even if you make excuses for them. I feel that we can right some of these wrongs. I think, in other words, a more just society preferable to a more unjust society, and a more just society is what you would get out of abolishing the incarcerating of innocent people under medical pretenses.
What do you do when some individuals believe that aliens are communicating with them via radiowaves?
Via their Abilify wristlets maybe?
And why is this any of your business in the first place?
@oldhead: I answered that in the very same paragraph.
@Frank: “I would even give your crazy woman, this village idiot of yours, the right to a trial before I would see her incarcerated, even if the prison to which she would be confined claims to be a hospital. Locking this woman up without a trial, if we are to allude to the origin of the word, would be to show her an extreme lack of hospitality on our part. It would not be the courteous thing to do. “
As we’ve been discussing things in general, the more I think about it, the more I’m trying to figure out the biological component of mental health issues. Since I can’t seem to get any of the experts to engage me on the issue, I’m struggling. I have intimate experience helping and observing my wife as she has healed over these last 10 years, but I simply lack the technical knowledge to explain what I have observed.
With MIA, I don’t believe a permanent, biological ‘defect’ in the brain causes mental health issues from which there is no hope of recovery. But I do believe there is a biological component of sorts that kicks in AFTER the initial trauma. That is the brain or mind’s desire to ‘sequester’ (dissociate) the trauma from the core personality of the personality. The earlier and more severe the trauma occurs in the person’s life, the more that biological component hinders healing from the trauma. What the dissociation does is cause a person’s neural pathway’s to work around the trauma…and yet the brain fights the work arounds and the trauma memories spill out in the form of flashbacks, panic attacks and triggers as the brain/mind desperately wants for those memories to be processed so they can enter the main narrative of the person and peace be brought back to the system.
The longer the trauma is sequestered the more the brain/mind is at war with itself trying to un-sequester the memories…but at the same time the more the neural pathways are becoming ‘hardened’ (descriptively not technically) and thus the pathways to those memories begin to ‘atrophy’ from disuse.
In my wife’s case, more than 4 decades after the trauma, the dissociation was so severe and so complete with the last 2 girls, that the attempts to undo the atrophy so we could reach and heal the trauma caused headaches that were debilitating for months. But slowly with work we were able to strengthen those long forgotten pathways, access the trauma and the ‘girls’ who held them, release the trauma and now we are in the process of tearing down the vestiges of the dissociation so that there is conscious access to all parts of my wife’s brain/mind.
There’s a lot more to it, but that’s the best I can describe the biological component (in a brief space) that I have observed in my wife’s trauma. I believe ALL trauma sufferers are subject to some degree of dissociation and so they all must deal with the fallout from the disuse of those pathways. Thus, imo, the biological component is a RESULT of the trauma and it complicates the healing of mental health issues, but it doesn’t cause, per se, those mental health issues..
I guess I’ll add, that if there are any interested, there is another factor that complicates healing: once the brain/mind begins to sequesters those trauma memories, mental skills and traits are sequestered along with those memories. And in my wife’s case, because the trauma happened during childhood, it meant those skills and traits never matured: thus there truly was an arrested development that occurs. So her healing also included a maturation of those skills and traits AND also gaining access to those sequestered skills and traits.. and until that happens the person simply doesn’t have full access to the healing and other abilities of his/her mind….which is why ’empowerment’ talk is kind of useless for early childhood trauma victims (an entirely different discussion).
samruck2——–the pellagra story is interesting….in the early 1900 hundreds in the south many people were put in state asylums….they were psychotic and they couldn’t help them..and they died there..finally a public health doctor found that they were not getting niacin in their diet…they just didn’t know….was this biology …now today there may be chronic inflammation of the brain because of the way we are eating….is that true…I don’t know…but we need to find out why we are getting mentally sick…is it bio or psych or soc…or all of it….YOU CANNOT TAKE BIOLOGY OUT OF THE EQUATION WITHOUT CAUSING HARM…I know this is not about your wife…but it is biology…
I do understand what you are saying. Our conglomerate tendency is to simplify things. I understand that mental health issues can be caused by dietary issues. I guess I, and I’m kind of assuming MIA, feels that when all other biological factors have been ruled out (dietary, brain injuries, disease/tumors, etc), THEN they want to proclaim that mental health has NO biological component. What I’m suggesting is there’s still a biological component even if the person has perfect health, diet, etc. But I do feel that biological component is NOT permanent, just a function of how the brain/mind deals with trauma and once the trauma is processed and the memory is entered in the main personal narrative, then the brain/mind goes back to ‘normal’ functioning.
That’s why I’m with you and for critical psychiatry and NOT for anti-psychiatry.
Hi samruck2: As you say, your wife’s issue appears to be a plasticity issue.
Numerous studies have convincingly shown that it is our experiences, learning, etc., that brings about structural changes in the brain (via neuroplasticity and epigenetics pathways). In other words, our experiences are constantly changing the chemicals and even the structure of the brain (such as atrophy). This has also been demonstrated in animal studies – if an animal is subjected to psychological stresses (such as being restrained in a tight space), their brain chemicals gradually change, and structural changes in the brain can also be observed. When these animals are released however, their brains come back to normal.
I didn’t read details about your wife’s exact problem, but if she spent a lot of time being depressed, anxious, being ‘depressed about being depressed,’ etc., these could lead to atrophy.
By the way, did she ever try mindfulness meditation practices? These practices have been demonstrated to significantly reduce rumination, mental proliferation, worry, etc., [reference: Querstret, D., & Cropley, M. (2013). Assessing treatments used to reduce rumination and/or worry: A systematic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 33, 996–1009]. Also, engaging in these practices bring about healthy structural and functional changes in the brain (I can give many references if you want).
merry Christmas and happy solstice and happy holidays and happy to all.. no matter what your beliefs …from the littleturtle
Merry Christmas to you, too, “little turtle”! I’m so glad some of the more opinionated commenters here haven’t scared you away! LOL! I value your comments. And, yeah, there’s a LOT to learn here! You might like >beyondmeds.com<, too! Monica Cassini does a great job with her website there…. Best wishes to you!….
thank you for responding and happy holidays.
My wife has d.i.d. and though she is thru much of the necessary healing, we never used mindfulness techniques. I’ve heard that catch phrase mentioned a lot, but we simply have no experience with it. The ‘nice’ thing about d.i.d. and the ‘alters’ is it allows me to go to the source of the worry, depression, ruminations etc, and use attachment theory and what any good parent would have/should have done when ANY trauma occurs…and once I did that for each girl, the trauma symptoms (over time) disappeared.
But my hope had been for a more generic discussion of the ‘biology’ of mental health trauma. I did a search of this website, and maybe I missed it, but MIA is so against the bio-medical model of mental health, that I’m afraid it is throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.
I’m really good at observing my wife and by getting constant feedback from her, meeting her needs for her healing. But then when I try to go back and apply ‘theory’ to what worked with her in practice, that’s where I struggle and am on less solid ground.
I think I’ve observed at least 3 places in my wife’s healing where the biology of the brain/mind hinders healing AFTER the trauma. Again, I’m NOT talking the bio-medical paradigm of mental health nonsense here. I’m talking about how the brain/mind react to the trauma and then complicates the healing if these factors aren’t considered.
The first we’ve already addressed: the neural atrophy that results from the dissociation, but apparently from your comments it can also result from worry, ruminations, depression, etc, as well.
But the next 2 are the ‘arrested development’ of my wife’s traits and abilities because it wasn’t only the trauma that was dissociated, but personality traits and mental abilities also got grouped into the dissociation with various girls. And so those parts of the brain/mind, once they are dissociated, go into a kind of ‘stasis’ and the personality traits and mental abilities never undergo the maturation process a healthy child’s brain/mind does. It’s been a HUGE issue I’ve had to contend with the various girls: I’ve had to literally help them ‘grow up’ because they controlled so many traits and abilities that an adult needs, but those traits and abilities were trapped back at a childhood level.
And then the last factor that I see which further complicates healing for a trauma victim is that those mental abilities are subdivided and sequestered in the various ‘alters’ and inaccessible by the various ‘alters’ until the dissociation is removed between them. And this is the place one must understand when a person becomes unbalanced and develops eating issues, body perception issues, obsessive compulsive issues; pretty much most the dsm ‘disorders’ occur because the trauma sequesters the various ‘balancing’ factors in one’s personality. My wife has many of those tendency that are so debilitating in others but because I realized that one girl ‘controlled’ a balancing trait for another girl, it simply became a matter of ‘rebalancing’ the girls as the dissociation dissolved, if that makes sense…
When I used to read extensively from the ISSTD experts’ literature, from my memory, they didn’t discuss these things much. Maybe I just missed it. I finally stopped reading about 5 years ago because my wife was so far past what they were dealing with and it was a little discouraging when I couldn’t get any of them to take me seriously since I’m ‘just a husband.’ Sigh.
Anyway, if you want to continue the conversation and MIA doesn’t shut us down, I’d appreciate it. If not, thank you for your initial reply and maybe some day I’ll find someone with the expertise to help me better articulate the theory to what I have had to ‘practically’ do to help walk my wife thru all the twists and turns that occurred from her mental trauma.
Happy holidays to you too Sam. I understand the concerns you have regarding your wife.
Something we need to realize is that science is completely ignorant when it comes to issues of brain/mind. This is mainly because science focuses exclusively on materialism and simply assumes the ‘mind’ to be merely electrical activity that happens inside the head. As a result of these assumptions, many so-called “experts” simply follow various (mostly materialistic) theories, which are often none other than personal viewpoints. These “experts” also often give the impression that everything regarding these things is clearly understood. I could write a great deal about this, but it would take up too much space, and perhaps you may have realized this yourself when attempting to find information about these issues.
Regarding d.i.d., I assume that you know this label is also merely a classificatory category of DSM, and you would have heard how unhelpful DSM “disorder” categories can be. So, this brings us to the “problems of living” issue that you are facing. My question to you at this point is: is your wife affected by her condition or is it just you worrying about her condition? If it is the later, it is just you who need some help! 🙂
As I explained, because science clings to materialism (just like clinging to a belief system), it currently ignores other ways of understanding the world (i.e., other ‘epistemologies’). In this regard, I really like Buddhist descriptions of the mind, where the mind is understood as being everywhere extending through infinite space and time (if you want to understand this further, you can read the article I suggested in an earlier comment). Even if one doesn’t understand these (Buddhist) explanations of the mind, one can still engage in mindfulness practices. When practising mindfulness, one gets to know one’s own mind, and gradually develop the ability to simply become aware of thoughts like worries without becoming a victim of these thoughts and anxieties.
I feel that mindfulness practices could help you (and perhaps also your wife in case she needs them). Why not take an 8-week MBSR (Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction) course in mindfulness (this course consists of one class per week, for 8 weeks, with some assigned homework practices). These courses are available in most cities (you can check on the internet). Then, if you find them to be helpful, you can encourage your wife to take the course too. The course would instruct in different types of practices like compassion meditation, awareness of the breath, body-scan meditation, choiceless awareness, etc. You can also learn mindfulness via internet resources, but it might be best to first learn the basics before you explore further.
thanks for the reply, but I’m simply not sure where to go from it…I’ve written a half dozen different replies and keep deleting them as I have portions of this response. We clearly see things very differently, and that’s ok. Thank you for your time and responses.
Steve, Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and the Recovery Movement are indeed symptom control mechanisms. And yes, they do have to be that, because the premise is that the client has a problem, not that there will be any efforts to redress the injustices of this world.
So parents can send their children to doctors to have them fixed, when really it is those parents who should be incarcerated.
Everyone wants to do well. When they are not able to, then something is wrong, wrong with the world they live in, some type of injustice.
But Psychiatry and Psychotherapy and the Recovery Movement are based on the religious concept of Original Sin. They turn it back on the survivor.
1. Eradicate Psychiatry, and for those who drug children, Crimes Against Humanity Prosecution.
2. Prohibit the government from licensing Psychotherapy, as this is what makes it so harmful to our society. Can’t really outlaw it, just like we can’t outlaw stupidity, but we can prevent licenses from being issued.
3. Discredit the Recovery Movement, and do not tolerate it. I was able to get one site which hosted Recovery Programs evicted, and it no longer exists. Find legal ways to refuse to hire people involved in Recovery Programs, because their people are just completely irresponsible. One Recovery Program which raised money locally I was able to get run out of town.
Then fight for justice. Like other industrialized nations prohibit disinheritance, as this is what is silencing survivors. When you see parents using doctors to stigmatize their child, that must be handled in court. Enforce mandatory reporting as written and intended. That right there would put much or Psychotherapy out of business. And then we survivors need to start our own Foster Care program, influenced by Israeli Kibutzes.
Fight for justice, and discard this idea of healing, or using drugs to reach altered states of consciousness.
Radically increase the number of lawsuits filed against Psychotherapists.
Let’s talk about slavery. Do I have a problem with the term ‘psychiatric slavery’? No. I feel that a compelling case can be made for describing the psychiatric system as such. That being said, I think that engaging in head-to-head comparisons between the psychiatric system and the system of chattel slavery that existed in the US is racist. It’s racist because it treats US slavery as if it is some sort of obscure historical curiosity with no bearing on the present. On the contrary, the legacy of slavery in the United States is very much alive in many ways. Along with the genocide of the continent’s original inhabitants it is an original sin that has never been atoned for, never made right. It affects all of us each and every day, and pretending that it doesn’t is racist as fuck. I’d honestly rather see MiA ban the phrase ‘psychiatric slavery’ entirely from use than see people who are presumably least affected by the legacy of slavery dispassionately waxing philosophical about it as if it’s an issue with no bearing on people’s lives in the present day.
I totally agree except for the last part. If you weren’t about the only one here who really cared about real racism, there would be a dozen articulate arguments following every truly racist post. The fact that there aren’t is the real problem, and resorting to censorship is lazy and in the end racist, as it also eliminates discussion of the actual concrete connections between psychiatry and slavery, which are vital to understand. So I think your final comment is a sort of giving way to emotion in a way that could end up being counterproductive to enlightening discussion.
But like I said, looks like no one is reading anymore.
You might be right about my comment giving way to emotion, but part of my problem with some of these pseudo-academic musings about slavery is that they are talking about it as if it’s *not* an emotional issue. It is, and people have every right to get emotional about it.
Yes, sometimes the “slavery” analogy is misused. This is especially the case when the person using such an analogy is not historically aware of the degree of human oppression experienced in the institution of slavery in the U.S. and other parts of the world.
When the slavery analogy is misused it is our job to challenge people as we do with ALL other forms of historical inaccuracies.
That being said, historically there have been, and still are many “higher forms” of human slavery. And in these situations this kind of analogy can be very important to use in order to challenge and educate people about just how far humanity has to go in order to free ourselves from all forms of oppression.
As I pointed out in a prior comment, the remnants of slavery in the U.S. were still very much embodied in the sharecropping system in the South, and this was clearly a “higher form” of slavery.
Just remember how valuable the writings of Karl Marx (and his followers) are, with his penetrating historical analysis of the emergence of various forms of “wage slavery” which still hold back the nature of freedom for the working classes in the world, and the advance of society beyond the human horrors related to Imperialist domination, with its endless wars for Empire and profit.
And Uprising, it is very important not to forget that when this struggle around this slavery analogy question first arose at MIA it was HEAVILY infused with a major theme of “Identity Politics.” If “Identity Politics” is allowed to dominate and control any political website or organization trying to make positive change in the world, it will ultimately destroy those efforts, and be a major setback for our movement.
So Uprising, I am saying there are many important reasons to not let such language and/or analogies be banned or eliminated. It is our job to make sure that this language is not used inappropriately. And you have done a good job so far on this front when these problems have emerged.
I don’t even think that anyone should be saying that psychiatry is “analogous” to chattel slavery as it existed in this country. The case can be made that psychiatry is a higher form of slavery (as you put it), and certainly psychiatry’s historical links to American chattel slavery do warrant discussion, but I don’t feel that it’s appropriate to say that psychiatry is analogous to slavery as it existed here for captive Africans. It’s just too different, and making that comparison is just too insensitive to the people who bear the heaviest burden of slavery’s legacy.
(Note that I am not making an argument from identity politics here. I consider this a class issue.)
What may be analogous, again, are some of the internal dynamics; also to equate the term “slavery” with a particular historical form of slavery is erroneous as you know.
When I personally use such language is generally in reference to the way psychiatry has been use to literally enforce slavery in the US, or, as with the prison system, as a modern day extension of the slave state using different practices terms; rarely am I making an “analogy,” though those can be made too.
people have every right to get emotional about it.
Not something I would argue with. And not to over-pontificate, but the point is not to allow our emotions to trip us up — in this case by providing pretext for discussions such as this to be censored in the name of supposedly “fighting racism.”
I’m reading, and I totally agree that despite parallels between psychiatric incarceration and slavery, they are not really comparable. The point that the racism that has descended from the institution of slavery continues to be a pernicious force every day in the USA and other places is also very well taken. Privilege is a relative thing, and the fact that psychiatry is oppressive as hell doesn’t make it comparable to having one’s body and life bought and sold as if one were a head of cattle.
With privatization, of prisons and psychiatric institutions, aren’t inmates being bought and sold as if they were cattle? It may be a matter of degree but, hey, degree of slavery is still slavery.
Privilege is a relative thing, and slavery isn’t? Does that really figure? Anyway, I look at this way, a free person isn’t a slave, and an incarcerated person isn’t a free person. Privilege again. Relative or absolute?
I suppose you are right – slavery is a matter of degree. The parallels are legitimate, even if slavery as an institution was clearly more horrific than anything the psych profession has yet come up with.
People have been pretty good at sweeping some of the more horrible things that have gone on inside state facilities under the rug. It’s hard to separate the reality from the hospital brochure and the Halloweeny theme-park. Asylums, after all, used to serve that kind of rug purpose themselves at one time. “Got an annoyance? We will take care of it for you.” I think they still do.
You’re right about chattel slavery, it is pretty horrible on the surface of it, and there is nothing that can make it otherwise. By contrast, most other forms of oppression, including psychiatric oppression, may seem child’s play. Also, in this country people were enslaved along strictly racial lines, and this legacy still has its hold on people today that continues to have a disastrous effect on some people’s lives.
You make several mistakes here, Steve. As Bonnie would point out, it is “America-centric” to consider US slavery the only form of slavery. Unfortunate Dragon Slayer has led us into a false argument here with his insinuation that psychiatry is just as horrific as was chattel slavery. Of course it’s not, and this is NOT what the majority of those who use the term “psychiatric slavery” are saying.
What people, including Szasz, are discussing when they use the term are common principles which are common to various historical forms of slavery.
Unfortunately Dragon Slayer has led us into a false argument here with his insinuation that psychiatry is just as horrific as was chattel slavery.
To be fair, Dragon Slayer has clarified that this is not his position, so I want to point this out.
I’m not insinuating that psychiatric slavery is just as horrific as was chattel slavery. I’m suggesting that although psychiatric slavery is slavery in a different form and under a different name, there are lessons to be learned from chattel slavery that are relevant to psychiatric slavery. On the scale of evil and suffering psychiatric slavery may still rank below that of chattel slavery, and still further below that of the Holocaust, and I agree that sometimes comparisons with these horrific events can be counterproductive. But considering the length of time that psychiatry has been permitted to perpetrate its evils, and the hidden manner in which it operates, if it is not abolished, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that one day the cost in human suffering and casualties will place psychiatric slavery next to chattel slavery and other atrocities in the annals of the horrors of history.
despite parallels between psychiatric incarceration and slavery, they are not really comparable
Everything is comparable with everything else, what’s relevant is the conclusions drawn from the comparison. To compare is not to equate.
In some ways psychiatric slavery is more horrific than bondage/chattel slavery. Chattel slavery openly defended itself as slavery. There was no pretense, beyond the slave-owners claim that slaves were sub-human to masters. But in psychiatric slavery, the psychs will proclaim that it’s victims are “fully human”, then turn around and dehumanize them. Bondage/chattel slavery doesn’t pretend to be otherwise. But psych slavery deludes itself, and
it’s victims, that it’s “for their own good”….
People can be censored due to your “political correction”, since Sera Davidow made an issue of it, and the monitors adopted her/your view of the matter, on this website anyway, but let’s go there, shall we?
I completely disagree. Chattel slavery has been abolished despite racism. Psychiatric slavery has not been abolished, and we’ve still got sanism/mentalism. In some cases, sanism/mentalism coupled with racism, and tripled with sexism. When it comes to police violence, we’ve got a thoroughly sanist racist situation.
We are due, it would seem, another major emancipation/liberation, so long as the mental health hospital/plantation (social control) system is still operational.
I don’t think psychiatric slavery is any more irrelevant to the world of today than the sexual slavery that can come of human trafficking. Censor the term sexual slavery at your and our, especially their, peril.
People, who have broken no laws, are still being deprived of their liberty. I’m not out to suppress this fact, nor to prettify it by pretending it something else.
People in the prison reform/abolition/liberation movement have no problem speaking about the exploitation of prisoners as slave labor. If people are still being held in psychiatric prisons, and if they have locked wards, I don’t think that makes them hospitals. but maybe I’m mincing words.
I have more of a problem with censorship than I do with comparisons, even if the words you use were to be a specialist language coming from the “mental health” clinic, our contemporary reeducation barracks, or even from the corporate run media in the form of that benchmark of capitalist propaganda, advertising).
Differences of opinion are going to happen, of course, unless we imprison, bind, and gag people, but they’re still going to exist even then. Conspiracies of silence are not good for, um, what do they call it? Oh, yeah. Free speech for starters.
See, I disagreed with Sera on that because I’d rather not the see the phrase ‘psychiatric slavery’ banned, and I thought that her arguments about that were questionable (unusual for Sera). However, I’d prefer to see it banned rather than to keep seeing you all go on and on about the institution of chattel slavery as if it no longer has any effect on people and pretending that psychiatrists can do the same things to people that US slave masters could do. StDoP even said that psychiatry is worse in some ways. Go ahead and keep saying these things as long as MiA allows it. I’ll be here calling it what it is – racist.
Chattel slavery, sexual slavery, prison slavery, psychiatric slavery, and they’re all, when it comes down to it, racist. Racist, sexist, and sanist as our present, more or less, patriarchal society happens to be.
I see mindless “consumption” of “mental health” services as a slave-like thing, but I’m sure some people will disagree with me on that score. Of course, we are no longer engaged in a war between the states in which black folks were referred to as “contraband”. Instead we have this system that tries to adjust people into being mere automatons of corporate imperialism and capitalist ideology. It is racist, sexist, sanist, and, in general, oppressive, with representation being mostly a matter of rhetoric. (Who represents you? Tweedle-dum or Tweedle-dee?) The two party system has politicians lining their pockets while poor people suffer the most. Political corruption has really gotten out of hand given the amount of money going to keeping the conventional party apparatuses in power.
You are being very discriminating, uprising, as to who’s use of the mother tongue you would be censoring, aren’t you? I don’t know whether to call that a good or a bad thing. I just know I don’t want any part of it.
In the South, psychiatry was called in to assist slavery: Slaves fleeing captivity were “diagnosed” with a newly-invented “mental illness” – “Drapetomania”, for which the “medical treatment” was whipping and toe removal.
You’re doing it again, Uprising, which I find out of character for you. The only way to resolve any of this is through discussing it (and I do see some progress being made in this conversation), whereas, again, you seem to be giving MIA a wink and a nod that it’s fine with you any time they choose to cut off the discussion.
Sometimes there’s a fine line, but he I see no instance where those you take issue with here have refused to consider the criticisms being raised — and where else is such internal criticism/self-criticism to take place?
Uprising, the cry of “racism” is like so many other cries from the left, an attempt to silence discussion. If you have an argument to make, go ahead and make it. If you think that psychiatric slavery bares no relation to chattel slavery, go ahead and explain the reasons for your position.
the cry of “racism” is like so many other cries from the left, an attempt to silence discussion
And there YOU go again. Sometimes such claims are used to silence discussion, but there’s also plenty of actual racism around, being the founding dynamic of the country and all. Just because Democrats and their ilk make “cries” of racism cynically doesn’t obviate this reality.
Meanwhile you use the cry of “leftist” in much the same manner.
I’ve explained my reasoning several times already. And your comments about slavery fail even from a purely pragmatic perspective, because who the hell would want to be associated with any group or movement composed of people who say things like you did?
Oldhead seemed to agree with my criticism, so why don’t you ask him to explain it to you instead of dogging me about it? I don’t owe you anything, and I’m about done with this thread. If I see “but Szasz” one more time, I am going to throw up in my mouth.
Throwing up in your mouth would be an improvement to the throwing up that you have done in writing. Thank you.
Sick burn, bruh.
Uprising and all, about slavery, its really The Family System which we are seeing in action. Those who end up in Psychiatry, Psychotherpy, and Recovery are those deemed to be out of compliance with the middle-class family.
This discussion has veered so far off the topic of Freud as an anti-psychiatrist that I must add at least one more comment. Just read Thomas Szasz’s book “Anti-Freud” to find out why it is impossible to claim that Szasz held a high opinion of Freud’s theories, and why it is even more impossible to call Freud the first antipsychiatrist.
Okay, I will let you have the last word on Freud. We agree on just about everything else, so it’s time to move on and team up to slay the dragon. But the fact that Szasz went to such extreme efforts to destroy one man – I wonder how Freud would psychoanalyze that? Father issues maybe? (Just kidding.)
Lol. Yes, let’s set aside our differences and all team up to slay the dragon of psychiatry.
Szasz wasn’t determined to destroy anyone, but he was very determined to expose the truth about psychiatry. He wasn’t extreme, except in some ideas about drugs and suicide. It is psychiatry that is extreme. In his book “Anti-Freud” Szasz revives the writings of Karl Krauss, who was a contemporary critic of Freud. Just for the record, Kraus was the original antipsychiatrist, not Freud. 🙂
I consider Freud as being of some interest in the sense that he pioneered what today seems platitudinous, i.e. that people repress disturbing feelings and memories and this can affect their beliefs and actions. I would consider it suspicious for anyone to seriously deny this. Freudianism may have had an anti-psychiatry effect in some ways, but it was expropriated by psychiatry to sell itself as legitimate, just as it uses drugs today, couching it all in medical trappings.
Szasz is not a god, and his libertarian/”conservative” politics have almost nothing to do with his value to us a movement. His defining contribution was and remains his deconstruction of the myth of mental illness, which remains unparalleled, unrefuted and totally valid, no matter what one’s larger political perspective might be.
And I’m glad Lawrence ends here with a restatement of the larger goal of exposing and stopping psychiatry.
Just out of curiosity, does this mean that you are pro-psychoanalysis now, OldHead?
“Psychotherapy” and “psychoanalysis” are non-specific terms for something that happens when two people talk. Designating any such conversation as “therapy” is a step in the wrong direction, however I see no reason not to be “pro” people consensually talking, however they choose to define it. People pay for all sorts of advice on all sorts of things, not just problems in living, which I don’t consider any of my business. And while paying for intimate emotional support is surely a symptom of capitalist alienation, there it is.
If a particular odious practice labeled “psychotherapy” were being discussed my opinion would likely change, but the generic term is so general as to be meaningless. And in every case the helpfulness of any such process is 95% dependent on the counselor, not what so-called technique it is informed by. I don’t think any of this is different from anything I’ve ever said.
Again, this has nothing to do with psychiatry.
It has everything to do with psychiatry. They are two sides of the same filthy coin.
Good question Frank. I sure hope not. Karl Kraus’s antipsychiatry and criticism of Freud and psychoanalysis ought to put to rest any notion that Freud was somehow the first antipsychiatrist. Furthermore, Szasz’s conservative politics will contribute to the future success of antipsychiatry in many ways, just as the conservative politics of great statesman of the past has done so much to advance the cause of liberty. What Freud pioneered was fraudulence masquerading as science and medicine. He pioneered a false conception of the nature of man that denies his dignity as a free and responsible being. Krauss and Szasz have pioneered the opposite, that is, a correct understanding of man as a dignified, free, and responsible being. Szasz was not a God, but in terms of integrity, intellectual acuity, and scholarly rigor he was as close to God as Freud was to the devil, which is to say, very close. I agree with you Oldhead that perhaps Szasz’s greatest contribution was the deconstruction of the myth of mental illness, but that was by no means his only contribution. Like the brilliant Kraus before him, Szasz has often been silenced because the truths that he so eloquently articulated were too hard for many to bear. Nevertheless, I share your appreciation of Lawrences restatement of the overarching goal to abolish, or to slay the dragon of psychiatry.
Szasz’s politics are boring and redundant. Some grains of truth but mostly predictable stuff that if you’re into it Buckley was much better at. What you will eventually realize is that unless you’re a multi-millionaire at least it doesn’t matter whether you are a “liberal” or “conservative” as you won’t have enough power for it to matter to those in charge.
I’m glad that you mentioned Buckley, because he interviewed Szasz on his show Firing Line. Buckley was no pushover or wilting daisy, but Szasz takes him to school. Check it out sometime if you haven’t already seen it. https://psychiatricsurvivors.wordpress.com/2015/06/15/there-is-no-such-thing-as-mental-illness/
Slavery is this world we live in. Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and the Recovery Movement are some of its enforcers, but they are not the origin.
The origin is the middle-class family, because people have children purely in order to sentimentalize them and use them, and so that they don’t have to deal with their own issues.
Mental Health and Recovery come into play when someone is seen to be out of compliance with the standards of the middle-class family.
I just wanted to thank everyone who has contributed to the discussion about the notion of “psychiatric slavery” thus far. As this discussion has veered very far off topic from the original subject matter of Dr. Kelmenson’s article, I am now asking for this debate to close. Please keep future comments on the topic of the original post.
We should not be trying to outlaw Psychotherapy, as mostly it is just talk. But what we should be doing is prohibiting our government from licensing it.
And then of course when it is being done to a juvenile, not currently be represented by an attorney in court, that that therapist is a hired accomplice to the parents. So as anyone in such a situation could easily be sued or prosecuted, so should that therapist. And mandatory reporting should be enforced as intended. I was supposed to prevent such things, parents being able to hire doctors to aid in child abuse. So it should be enforced. It now applies to anyone who regularly works with children. Failure to report is a felony.
I fled McGill psychiatric residency and Canada in 1959 when it became clear that we were being taught/forced to attack patients rather than to help them understand their lives.
Psychoanalysis in Britain was a great help. I needed, like most of my patients, to be able to be open and honest with a parental figure I could trust. Freudian theory, aside from perhaps conscious and unconscious, didn’t mean much to me, but when my 2nd training case, a young professional man unexpectantly became psychotic, we were both lost.
What saved us was that my supervisor was Dr Donald Winnicott, a gifted pediatrician/psychoanalyst who had told me he wasn’t a good supervisor.
He suggested I stop talking (nonsense) and listen.
Having no other choice I did that, for several sessions, until I finally understood something in the patients thought disorder.
I gave a positive noise, then later a positive word, and gradually we began to be able to communicate. The patient’s life had completely disintegrated, but gradually, over the next 4 years he built a new, meaningful one.
Dr Winnicott , true to his word never looked down on me. I would go over my notes from a session, and he would talk about a person he was trying to help, which would somehow inspire me to talk about my patient: and so back and forth for the session- like we were helping each other and our patients.
At the end of the session we would warmly thank each other! And I rode home on the double decker bus and see over the wall into the Buckingham Palace grounds.
I gradually realized that Dr W was somehow different from other analysts, but it wasn’t until years later that I read his paper on the true self and the false self that I could verbalize his difference from Freud.
Freud described the id as demonic and evil and drew it on the right side of the head. The logical left brain was supposed to become dominant enough to overcome this utterly selfish self.
Dr W’s paper reversed this: the true self is the emotional self, and the false self is the often phoney self that we are taught to use to get along in the world. His thesis was that my patient , with both his parents preoccupied with the war, had learnt to be good, rather than a more balanced person.
I was fascinated by split brain research, and realized that Freud had discovered this, but hadn’t been able to reach out to the troubled right brains of schizophrenic patients.
What I found with the psychotic patients who could make it to my office is that the trauma in their lives predated the development of the verbal, rational left brain, so they needed right brain help because that’s where the trauma was stored.
It also seems to explain why schizophrenia strikes young adults. They manage on a false self basis as long as they can, but then get overwhelmed by the nightmare in the right brain.
With 2 of my most psychotic patients, who had also suffered the abuse of many years of psychiatric treatments, once we had identified the neglected infant in them we found that a baby’s bottle during sessions aided recovery.
Of course I also wonder if many of the current problems of drug abuse and sexual identity disorders may have similar deep seated origins.
Yikes, Freud was a fruitcake in disguise. How scary to give one’s broken self into the hands of psychoanalyses. It’s kind of a toss up between freud and antipsychotics. Our system is based on Freud