New Book Takes Aim at the Mental Health Industrial Complex

Susan Rogers
34
1802

I’ve been around the block a few times, so I was not shocked by the revelations in Art Levine’s absorbing and well-researched new book, Mental Health, Inc.: How Corruption, Lax Oversight and Failed Reforms Endanger Our Most Vulnerable Citizens. But I was certainly appalled.

Planning to review the book, I started reading it with a pencil in hand so that I could make little check marks in the margins when I read anything that seemed worth noting. By the time I finished reading the book, there was a forest of check marks!

The story begins with the harrowing saga of 38-year-old army veteran Steve Tompkins (not his real name), who had spent the 10 years after returning from service in Iraq drugged to the gills with Seroquel, Depakote, lithium and other antipsychotic medications in an attempt to treat his PTSD. He had been trying to get into the 60-day PTSD unit at a local hospital in West Virginia, and his anger finally erupted into an event that led to hospitalization. But, more than a year later, he still had not gained admission to the special PTSD inpatient unit.

While Tompkins’ story is heartbreaking, it pales in comparison to what many of those profiled in Levine’s book have suffered—since at least Tompkins survived (as far as Levine reports). Even reading the book’s table of contents is horrifying. It includes “Drugging Our Seniors to Death,” “…the VA’s Tragedies” and “…the VA’s Scandals,” “Torture in Alabama,” “Florida: Free-Fire Zone for Killing, Abusing and Raping Kids?” and other chapter titles that are similarly terrifying.

The book’s “nut graf”—editorial slang for a paragraph that tells readers why the story matters—may be this one: “Indeed, a hunger for profits has corrupted just about every conceivable arena of mental health care, from the overdrugging of foster care kids and the elderly to abusive teen residential facilities. Not only that, it’s been abetted by what this book shows are indifferent professional associations, pharmaceutical-subsidized patient advocacy groups and government regulators that either push a drug-industry agenda or fail to halt what amounts to an epidemic of behavioral health malpractice.” As Levine quotes Philadelphia attorney Steve Sheller (interviewed in the Philadelphia Inquirer), “The industry is infected with greed. You can’t trust the approvals, you can’t trust the studies, and now you can’t trust the FDA.”

Much of the book focuses on the devastation wreaked by the dangerous “off-label” prescribing of antipsychotics. Levine also shines a damning spotlight on the “multibillion-dollar residential treatment industry.” He accuses it of “profiting off of the misery and suffering of all those mishandled by their communities’ outpatient programs,” and tells numerous stories that back up this claim.

The book has a companion website, www.mentalhealthinc.net, where some of the wrongful death lawsuits and state health reports can be viewed. In addition, there are 48 pages of endnotes that readers can access here.

It’s true that sometimes Levine gets it wrong, including in regard to the spurious link between mental health conditions and violence. While acknowledging that people with serious mental health conditions are 11 times more likely to be the victims of violence than its perpetrators, he nonetheless leans on a “meta-analysis” by an Oxford psychiatry professor to claim that people with untreated schizophrenia are up to five times more likely to commit violent acts, largely due to their higher rates of substance abuse. He also writes, “It’s likely, in fact, that most mass killers have some form of mental illness, even if many don’t meet the narrow legal definition of insanity: the inability to tell right from wrong at the time of the crime”—in spite of the fact that many experts, such as Vanderbilt University researchers, dispute this1—and refers to “crazed (emphasis added) gunmen like Adam Lanza and James Eagan Holmes.”

Levine also blindly accepts the conventional wisdom of The New York Times editorial page and a few other ill-informed pundits when he disparages the overturning of an Obama administration regulation that “required the Social Security Administration to report to the FBI background check system mentally impaired beneficiaries who were incompetent to manage their own finances”—even though this regulation was considered discriminatory by the ACLU and most of the mental health advocacy community. And, without irony, Levine calls the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act—legislation that many in the mental health advocacy community worked hard to defeat—a “reform” bill. (However, he is critical of the involuntary treatment mandated by this law.)

But while he does get a few things wrong, he gets much more right.

By the way, Levine briefly covers the movement for social change of individuals with psychiatric histories. While the movement gets short shrift, that isn’t the subject of this book. Art Levine is writing about the depredations of the mental health industrial complex, and that is enough to make this book disturbing and indispensable.

Full disclosure: The author names me—not the Susan Rogers quoted on page 47, who served on the board of the Texas Federation for Children’s Mental Health—in the Acknowledgements, and he includes the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse in his brief “Assistance, Advocacy and Information Resource Guide,” calling us “a tiny but dedicated group…” These acknowledgements did not influence me in writing this review.

Show 1 footnote

  1. According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, “…the U.S. firearm homicide rate is 20 times higher than the combined rates of 22 countries that are our peers in wealth and population.” “…around the world other countries also have people with unmet mental-health needs. And yet among 171 nations of the world, the United States is the clear leader in mass shootings. It’s the guns. Of course it’s the guns.”

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34 COMMENTS

  1. I think the title is, the subtitle really, a little long and clunky. Most specifically, I think he could have easily left off the Our Most Vulnerable Citizens tail end. First, it’s a cliche’, especially the vulnerable part. Second, I don’t see any sense in referring to people as citizens who don’t have full citizenship rights. Until we do have full citizenship rights, perhaps it would be better to call us something else. I believe the late ex-Beatle John Lennon advanced a place he called Nutopia once. How about legal aliens?

  2. “Mental health” makes about as much sense as “mental illness,” which is to say, it makes no sense whatsoever. The myth of mental illness, and the corresponding myth of mental health, are the pretexts for a litany of horrible hoaxes and atrocities. Most Mad in America articles are hacking at the branches of the problem. The root of the problem pertains to modern American society’s wholesale embrace of the myths of mental illness and mental health. Until the truth about psychiatry comes to light, until the real history of psychiatry becomes common knowledge, efforts to “reform” or “criticize” the mental health industry will continue to prove ineffective. Discover the truth about psychiatry:

    https://psychiatricsurvivors.wordpress.com/2016/05/10/the-truth-about-psychiatry/

  3. I agree with Dragon Slayer.

    Furthermore, using the term “mental health industrial complex” appropriates the term “prison industrial complex,” which has long been used by the prisoners’ movement, and, while maybe not outright racist, displays a lack of respect for the life and death struggles of political prisoners and those fighting on their behalf. As psychiatry is an extension of the prison system, we should adopt a term which reflects this, such as “prison/psychiatric industrial complex.”

    I’m familiar with Levine’s work, and, judging from this review, remain unimpressed.

  4. I am appalled at the fact that he believes that mental illness is what made the infamous mass murderers do what they did. Does he not know of the effects of many of the SSRI’s, which seem to cause some people taking them to exhibit suicidal and homicidal behavior? He seems to not be well informed on some critical issues.

    And anyone who believes that the horrible Helping Families bill is any kind of reform needs to have their head examined. Murphy was nothing but a shill for the very drug companies that Levine seems to be calling out. It sounds like he needs to spend a little time here on MIA so that he can get his facts straight.

    • Please read the book before jumping to conclusions. Also, while some of the mass shooters have taken SSRIs and other psychiatric drugs, that’s a correlation that’s not been proven to be causative of their actions. There are others who never took medication or stopped taking medications a long time before they engaged in violent act. Of course I’ve read closely Dr. Breggin’s work, cite it in my book, and in discussing the risks of antidepressants, I point out: In a situation similar to the wave of off-label prescribing of antipsychotics, many adults who probably could be helped by antidepressants aren’t getting them at all, while those who likely don’t need them are receiving them unnecessarily. Even as the use of antidepressants among those twelve and older has increased roughly 400 percent since the late 1990s, a remarkable August 2016 study in JAMA Internal Medicine and other reports have found that most people taking the drugs don’t have mental illnesses justifying their use. Meanwhile, remember, suicides have soared to a thirty-year high across most age groups. By analyzing recent patient survey data, a Columbia University team discovered that less than 30 percent of people with signs of depression were getting treatment, including antidepressants, while Columbia University and Johns Hopkins researchers concluded in separate studies that close to **seventy percent of those who received antidepressants never had major depression, generalized anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorders that could offer a rationale for the prescribing. Dr. Mark Olfson, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, told NPR about the unnecessary prescribing, “There are simpler forms of psychological interventions that can be adapted for primary care,” including counseling and exercise—rather than turning to antidepressants first.
      Given this upsurge, it’s especially necessary to vigilantly track side effects, because as many as one out of every hundred patients may experience violent and homicidal thoughts, leading a few people to commit murder. In 2001, a jury awarded $6.4 million to the family of a man who killed his wife, his daughter, his granddaughter and then himself after taking the antidepressant Paxil made by GlaxoSmithKline. (Such lawsuits have sharply dropped since the FDA required black-box warnings about increased suicide risk for teens and young adults, starting in 2004, while adding other warnings on the risks of aggressiveness, mania and hallucinations.)

      But the dangers continue: British documentary filmmaker Katinka Blackford Newman in her recent book, The Pill That Steals Lives, profiled murderers without previous histories of mental illness who became delusional and violent after taking antidepressants. She began the book after she recovered from a psychotic decline that went on for a year after taking Cymbalta, which initially led to her hospitalization after stabbing herself with a knife and wanting to kill her own kids—even though she wasn’t even clinically depressed when she began using the medication.

      Whatever the final truth about the risks and benefits of using antidepressants, careful monitoring is especially vital with young people receiving these psych drugs. That’s precisely what is generally missing in busy public clinic settings. There’s rarely time, encouragement or rewards for careful prescribing in the real world of public mental health systems, whether funded by Medicaid or run by the VA and military.
      ************
      Does that sound like the writing of someone unfamiliar with the dangers of SSRIs or Dr. Breggin’s work — or just someone you don’t happen to agree with without even reading my book? Please read the book before assuming I’m unaware of the research. That’s why Susan Rogers’s review posted online, exculsively for Mad in America readers what’s only available in the Kindle edition, the full live URLs of all 48 pages of my endnotes. Search through it for references to the dangers of antidepressants, and the scientific debates over their efficacy: https://www.scribd.com/document/350654872/Mental-Health-Inc-Web-Endnotes. Thanks for your consideration, and I hope you give my book a fair reading.

        • It’s the kind of statement no one can verify or disprove. Therefore it’s popular with those who support mainstream psychiatry.

          “X number of people have a severe mental illness but are undiagnosed.” How, the heck can anyone know that? How many times does the doorbell ring when no one can hear it? Maybe shrinks who make these statements are just announcing quotas of victims to “diagnose” and “treat.”

          • It’s very easy to disprove as we know that “severe mental illness” is an absurd notion in itself, as it’s impossible for it to exist without redefining the rules of language and logic.

  5. My book is highly critical of a wave of “behavioral health malpractice” largely focused on the dangerous, off-label and deadly use of antipsychotics. Before dismissing my 15 years of reporting on these issues, I’d urge you to at least read the book itself https://www.amazon.com/Mental-Health-Inc-Corruption-Vulnerable/dp/1468308378/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1512623848&sr=1-1 or my excerpts in Newsweek which included critiques of overmedication with antipsychotics killing veterans: http://www.newsweek.com/va-opioid-crisis-killing-us-veterans-682402 and Alternet, as here, attacking Trump’s war on people with what’s been known as mental illness: https://www.alternet.org/drugs/pundits-focused-trump-craziness-ignoring-threat-mentally-ill-addicts. You may not agree with my terminology about mental illness in attempting to educate mainstream and progressive readers with readable articles free from jargon, but I’m hoping my book will raise awareness of the dangers of those medications and spur an alliance between the larger public and mainstream activist groups that should be appalled by their dangerous overuse, but have remained silent — and those readers and activists who share the general perspective of Mad in America that that psychiatric drugs in general do more harm than good, and should almost never be used.

    There’s nothing in my writing urging activists who favor a politically unlikely position — essentially seeking the banning through some means most or all uses of psychiatric drugs — from abandoning their position, just that they consider forming alliances with more influential mainstream organizations to attack what I view as the “low-hanging” fruit of psychiatric reform: ending off-label, dangerous and irresponsible use of antipsychotics and antidepressants, and fighting simplistic and harmful forced drugging initiatives. Concern about off-label, improper and deadly use of psychiatric medications is a common-sense agenda that can be shared even by people who may disagree about the merits of psychiatric diagnosis, the biological role, if any, in what’s been called mental illness and whether psychiatric drugs should ever be used. Refusing to consider even short-term alliances with anyone who doesn’t share your views 100% about psychiatric medications and biology’s role in mental illness doesn’t seem to me to be a sound strategy to achieve reform, but readers of this website and commentators on this book are welcome to disagree with me. From what I can tell, up to 90 or more percent of uses of antipsychotics, especially among children, is dangerous and deadly and should be barred; the best way to do that is to halt paying for those off-label use of medications, as Mad in America contributor and PsychRights founder Jim Gottstein argued in praising my reporting a while ago in Huffington Post: “Kudos to Art Levine for Exposing Government Complicity in Illegal Psychiatric Drugging of Children ” https://www.madinamerica.com/2015/04/kudos-art-levine-exposing-governmental-complicity-illegal-psychiatric-drugging-children/

    Even so, SOME portion of the people with the illness now known as schizophrenia — even if not generally acknowledged on this website — do benefit, at least in the short run, according to my interviewing and the data I reviewed. That’s not the position of most readers of this website or, as I understand it, the general thrust of Whitaker’s ground-breaking and important research and analysis in his early reporting for the Boston Globe, his pioneering books and his recent definitive paper on the case against antipsychotics . Even so, Robert Whitaker himself has praised my book: “In Mental Health Inc., Art Levine presents a convincing case that corruption and failed political policies have waylaid our mental health system and led to great harm. His reporting on successful programs point to a way out of this morass, if only we can find the societal will to pursue such change.” But I’m also a centrist about the use of these medications and have no pre-existing ideology in looking in an unvarnished way at the evidence around such hot-button issues as mental illness and violence. My challenge to the conventional thinking on all sides of the issue of mental illness and violence was based on this research and follow-up papers by Seena Fazel of Oxford and other researchers, as well as my own personal interviewing with people in recovery from bouts of disordered, threatening behavior that might have gotten them killed. Here’s the research slighted by rights-oriented reformers in their advocacy claiming there’s no connection whatsoever between untreated, severe, so-called “mental illness” and higher risks of being both perpetrators and victims of violence: http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1000120; https://www.nasmhpd.org/sites/default/files/John%20Monahan_Sunday(1).pdf;https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Seena+Fazel+mental+illness+violence; and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24861430 . You’re free to disagree with me, as Susan Rogers does in her excellent, tough-minded and thoughtful review, but it’s that research — slighted by all sides in the debate over mental illness and violence — that shaped my think on these issues.

    Yet because of the reporting and essays of Robert Whitaker and, in later years, the many important contributors to this website, my views about the dangers of these medications have changed dramatically since I first began reporting on these issues for a South Florida weekly in 2001. The evolution of my thinking was described in this recent essay in Newsweek about the death of my mother in a psych ward in the mid-1990s due to apparent overdrugging: http://www.newsweek.com/psychiatric-drugs-overprescribed-americans-opioids-683628 . So I urge readers to keep an open mind, and actually read the book before dismissing reporting that noted reformers and writers Robert Whitaker and Susan Rogers have in general — with some specific disagreements with me — praised.

    • I’m having trouble uploading the full URL for law professor John Monhanan’s review of the evidence on mental illness and violence that I’m able retrieve in my own browser, but the presentation is widely cited:
      https://www.nasmhpd.org/sites/default/files/John%20Monahan_Sunday(1).pdf His arguments based on extensive research cited in this presentation are these, but were published before Fazel’s meta-analysis, which concluded: This systematic review of the risk of violence in schizophrenia and other psychoses identified 20 studies including 18,423 individuals with these disorders. There were four main findings. The first was that the risk of violent outcomes was increased in individuals with schizophrenia and other psychoses. The risk estimates, reported as ORs, were all above one indicating an increased risk of violence in those with schizophrenia and other psychoses compared with the general population controls, although the risk estimates varied between one and seven in men, and between four and 29 in women. A second finding was that comorbidity with substance use disorders substantially increased this risk, with increased ORs between three and 25. Although there was considerable variation in this estimate between studies, the pooled estimate was around four times higher compared with individuals without comorbidity.
      In addition, we found only five studies that compared risk of homicide in individuals with schizophrenia compared with the general population. Although the heterogeneity was large, the risk estimates were considerably higher than those for all violent outcomes. Although the risk of any individual with schizophrenia committing homicide was very small at 0.3% and similar in magnitude to the risk in individuals with substance abuse (which was also 0.3%), it does indicate a particularly strong association of psychosis and homicide. It may also reflect the better quality of these studies, including better ascertainment of cases. Apart from homicide, risk estimates do not appear to be elevated with the increasing severity of violent offence in individuals with psychosis.

      Monahan offers what appears to be a more balanced view, although many of his conclusions still don’t square with the perspective of most champions of rights of people diagnosed with mental illness conditions or readers of Mad in America:
      1: Mental Illness Plays a Very Small
      Role in American Violence
      According to the best research estimates,
      approximately 4% of violence toward others in
      American society is attributable to mental illness.
      That is, if we could somehow cure all mental
      illnesses overnight, we would be left in the morning
      with a rate of violence that is 96% of what it is now.

      2: But Mental Illness Does Play Some
      Role in American Violence
      Mental illness modestly but clearly increases the
      likelihood of violence to others. In the MacArthur
      Violence Risk Assessment Study, for example, during
      the first several months after discharge from shortterm
      psychiatric facilities, about 11% of people with
      a mental illness committed a violent act, compared
      to about 5% of their non-hospitalized neighbors.
      Two facts need to be appreciated to understand this
      finding:
      2a: Co-Occurring Substance Abuse
      Mediates Violence by People with MI
      First, the violence committed by discharged patients was
      heavily mediated by substance abuse. Indeed, if the former
      patients were not abusing alcohol or other drugs after they
      were discharged from the hospital, their rate of violence to
      others was no different than the rate in their surrounding
      communities.
      In fact, however, the discharged patients abused alcohol or
      other drugs twice as frequently as their non-disordered
      neighbors, and those who did engage in substance abuse had
      substantially elevated rates of violence to others.

      2b: Gun Violence Against Strangers by People
      with Mental Illness is Very Uncommon
      Second, the most frequent type of violence that the
      discharged patients commit is hitting someone—most often,
      hitting a family member. In the MacArthur Study, only 3% of
      the violence committed by former patients involved using a
      gun, or threatening to use a gun, on a stranger.

      2c: Homicide of Strangers by People with
      Mental Illness is Rare in the Extreme
      Nielssen et al, Schizophrenia Bulletin, 37, 572-579 (2009)
      Finding: 1 in every 140,000 people with schizophrenia will
      kill a stranger.
      “Measures that ensure earlier treatment of
      psychosis and continued treatment in the community
      would be likely to prevent homicides of both strangers
      and family members.
      However, the extreme rarity of these events means
      that identification of individual patients who might kill a
      stranger is not possible.”
      3: Suicide is Much More Common Than
      Homicide Among People with MI
      Suicide among people with mental illness is much more
      common than violence to others. According to CDC data,
      the age-adjusted suicide rate for the total population was
      approximately twice as high as the homicide rate. Over
      38,000 suicides occur in the U.S. each year, compared with
      roughly 16,000 homicides.
      The American Federation for Suicide Prevention estimates
      that 90% of all people who die by suicide have a
      diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.
      4: Victimization is Much More Common
      Than Offending Among People with MI
      It is often unappreciated that people with serious
      mental illness are far more likely to be the victims
      than the perpetrators of violence. For example,
      women with mental illness have 5 times greater risk
      than other women of being the victims of domestic
      abuse.
      5: Be Careful What You Wish For
      Paul Appelbaum, JAMA Psychiatry (April 2013)
      “[M]ental health professionals and other advocates for improved
      mental health services must exercise caution in their endorsement
      of proposals for increased mental health funding. Such offers are
      often premised on the proposition that the problem of violence is
      largely a problem of untreated mental illness, and its corollary that
      better treatment will preclude a repetition of mass shootings such
      as Tucson and Newtown…
      However, tying the need for increased funding to public safety will
      lead to further demonization of people with mental disorders, as
      well as an inevitable backlash when it becomes clear that more
      mental health clinics or inpatient beds have not had a major
      impact on the prevalence of violence.”

      • So, what do you think about the Murphy bill? Do you really think it’s a reform bill? You do know Murphy’s background was totally connected to drug company backing. Forced treatment is a very slippery slope, not only for people who’ve been labeled as “mentally ill” but for everyone concerned as psychiatry and the drug companies try to open their nets wider and wider. They’ve pathologized normal in order to trap more people, so what happens when forced treatment is the norm?

        • No, I personally don’t think its original intent was a “reform” bill and in practice I think the bill could be harmful. Please read my critique of the new head of SAMHSA in my book’s introduction and in my final chapters. It was widely reported as a “reform” bill and while I’m critical of it, as a journalist, I can’t refrain from calling it a reform bill just because its features are objected to by readers of Mad in America, or rights advocates who view it as dangerous. The notion of coordinating very uncoordinated programs and raising the importance of addressing the needs of people with what’s called “serious mental illness” seemed worth doing, even if many MIA readers view all diagnosis as oppressive and “mental illness” as a stigmatizing myth. BUT it was endorsed ultimately, after some complaints, by Mental Health America, and throughout the legislative debates ,by NAMI. They’re the two largest mental health groups in the country, and they backed it — and they’re reflecting the majority view of people who follow these issues, including some mental health peers/consumers/people with lived experience —
          that it was a “reform” bill. Nothing on the MIA comments page reflects the political reality that moderates like Sen. Chris Murphy, virtually every editorial page in the nation, President Obama, and the two largest and most influential mental health groups all backed the bill and hailed it as a reform. Even if I personally don’t like elements of the bill, and in particularl the incentivizing, now softened, of mandated outpatient treatment, I still see it as a reform bill, as does every other mainstream journalist. Here’s Debbie Plotnick of mental health america, writing about the bill for Peter Earley’s blog, a supporter of the bill — aimed at those in the mental health community who opposed it. To pretend as if there weren’t a) extremely sharp divisions within the mental health community, and that b) readers of Mad in America were not in fact, the majority view on this issue, along with your allies at the Bazelon Center and some disability rights groups , is to simply not accurately reflect the political line-up around this controversial bill. Perhaps all the FINAL, somewhat moderated bill’s supporters — a strong majority of Democrats, President Obama, and the nation’s two largest mental health groups with the largest membership — should have “their heads examined for calling it a reform bill” as one poster here says, but that’s the reality. Here’s MHA advocate Debbie Plotnicks’ explanation below of why opponents should find it acceptable, given all the changes made in the bill. Is it possible that some MIA readers didn’t follow the developments closely and weren’t aware that the original bill’s plan to cut off state SAMHSA/ mental health funding if AOT/mandated treatment wasn’t implemented had in fact been dropped?. Now it just funds some pilot projects, not my preference, but a far cry from Rep. Murphy and Dr. Torrey’s original intent. More here: http://www.peteearley.com/2016/07/04/mha-advocate-explains-why-those-opposed-to-bill-should-be-proud-of-revisions-making-it-more-palatable/

          Please note: My book is highly critical, if briefly, of the role of Big Pharma in influencing the policy decisions of both NAMI and Mental Health America, which may account for why the book — despite exposing the maltreatment and needless deaths of people with mental illnesses and addiction AND promoting “psychosocial” programs they support, such as “supported employment”– hasn’t been strongly embraced by those mental health advocacy groups.

          • I’m not very clear on the use of double negatives: Here’s what I’m trying to convey in this sentence above:

            To pretend as if there weren’t a) extremely sharp divisions within the mental health community, and that b) readers of Mad in America were not [ERROR, SHOULD DELETE NOT ] in fact, the majority view on this issue, along with your allies at the Bazelon Center and some disability rights groups , is to simply INACCURATELY reflect the political line-up around this controversial bill.

          • I mean, it’s hard to even know where to start. For one, Art, do you realize that just about everyone here considers NAMI to be one of our main enemies? That you would cite them as reason to support anything demonstrates how little you seem to know about the MIA community, which by true anti-psychiatry standards is very moderate.

            Plus I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “Just because it’s legal don’t make it right” — why should the “political line-up” around the Murphy bills have anything to do with your conclusions? This is not a “mental health” site btw — it is primarily a “critical psychiatry” site, and even so many of us consider to it be overly sympathetic to notions of “reform,” rather than the abolition of psychiatry and the associated (and discredited) notions of “mental illness” AND “mental health.”

      • 90% of all suicides have psychiatric diagnoses. Yep. Being treated like vermin and put on electroshock and drugs that cause seizures encourages suicidal behavior. Fancy that.

        And, according to drug commercials, these wonderful cures for all that ails humanity can cause suicidal behaviors. One minor side effect.

        Most of us here have gone off these drugs and are no longer suicidal. Like me. My IQ has gone up 10 points and people find me more likeable. I act normally and refuse to self identify as an “Evil Crazy” like NAMI and SAMHSA want me to. Frankly I don’t care if they cut off SAMHSA’s funding entirely. From what I hear they hurt folks in our positions more than they help.

      • What decade did that occur? And what was the precise nature of the harm done her, and the claimed — even if wrong — diagnosis justifying their actions? Read my resource guide at the end of the book for an overview of reform organizations, information resources and activists you can join to promote reform and learn more about our horrific system — including some you may not agree with — but also includes Hearing Voices and Mad in America.

        • 11 years ago a friend of mine died from a grand mal seizure caused by a neuroleptic at age 29.

          She was accused of Schizophrenia. She spent a lot of time in psych wards–not because she was dangerous or uncooperative–but the neuroleptics caused horrible reactions. She was unusually sensitive to them.

          I hold NAMI responsible for her death and countless others like her. They don’t care how many of us die as long as we are “meds compliant” and die with our rights off!

          There’s blood on your hands, NAMI.

  6. “Susan Rogers is inspired by Angela Davis’s response to the Serenity Prayer: “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I’m changing the things I can’t accept.” She writes in hopes of speaking truth to power. ”

    An awesome response to the Uncle Tomism which is the Recovery Movement! Thank you Susan. And than you Angela Davis.

    Susan, I say we have to get people to absolutely reject all Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and the Recovery Movement, and then we need to start putting some of the practitioners of each of these horrors out of business.

    Really not that difficult as I see it. What do you think?

    • I question whether Angela Davis would appreciate being quoted in this context, since the change she advocates is revolutionary change, something which gets short shrift around these parts.

      The anti-psych movement is quietly awaiting the sort of consciousness shift people are slowly undergoing one by one, which includes the recognition that a system which is based on false assumptions from the start cannot be “reformed” so as to turn it into its opposite; it can only be done away with.

    • Come to think of it, I have some Angela Davis quotes of my own to offer. Actually this is from an article written by her and Mumia Abu-Jamal entitled “Alternatives to the Present System of Capitalist Injustice.”
      http://www.thefeministwire.com/2014/01/alternatives-to-the-present-system-of-capitalist-injustice/

      People at MIA who are in touch with the true struggle against racism in the US should know that yesterday was the 36th anniversary of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s arrest and frame-up for the killing of a Philadelphia cop. So this is an excellent time to quote him and Angela on the subject of prisons and mass incarceration. Those who understand that psychiatry is an extension of the prison system would do well to take to heart their revolutionary analysis, and their understanding that slavery continues today in different forms.


      Those of us who have lived in, worked in, and studied history know that social change is no short-term or ready-made process. We know that social movements play a decisive role in that process, for they move nations from one seemingly settled place to quite other places over time.

      As repression continues, so too must resistance. Abolition democracy is one vision of how to deepen and extend that resistance. A central tenet of it is building (or, perhaps, rebuilding) movements of prisoners and against mass incarceration.

      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.”

      http://www.bringmumiahome.com

  7. FeelinDiscouraged, are you replying to me?

    Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Recovery are simply ways of further abusing survivors, turning us into Uncle Toms.

    It all starts with the legitimate experience of injustice, and then it turns that into a medical problem and a self improvement project. Its all an expression of the religions concept of Original Sin.

    • I guess we’re defining recovery differently, I would categorize recognizing the truths you speak as part of recovery as well.

      (I agree there’s a simple formula of defining extreme distress biomedically and then turning it into a “project” as you say of personal development, but it can be broader than that.)