Thomas Szasz explained that ‘mental illnesses’ are not really illnesses.1 This was verified by a meta-analysis of 107,000 studies that failed to find a biological marker for any mental illness.2 Yet this truth is not widely accepted. This is likely because he clarified what it isn’t, but not what it is, and it is something. He only said that they’re problems in living, which merely replaces one subjective label with another. Why are some ways of living called problems or illnesses, but not others? To find out why, I shall dissect out the different components of the APA’s definition of mental illness, and by process of elimination determine exactly what we mean by these concepts.
The APA says: “Mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in thinking, emotion or behavior associated with distress and problems functioning in social, work or family activities”
Saying mental illness is a mental health condition is redundant/non-explanatory. It’s just the APA trying to get us to give in and accept that mental illnesses are real illnesses by saying it repeatedly.
Saying they’re certain thoughts, emotions, or behaviors seems to be valid (at least saying they’re certain thoughts or behaviors does, since there are but few emotions and we all experience them).
Saying they’re changes in thinking/behavior likely means changes from normal. But if this means rareness, then it’s invalid — Einstein used unusual thinking to develop the theory of relativity, yet wasn’t called mentally ill for that. Changes can’t mean extreme states, either, since extremely good piano players aren’t labeled as ill. And it can’t mean irrationality since most of us have beliefs not based in reality (such as mental illnesses being real illnesses); only some are considered ‘crazy.’
Distress isn’t definitive, since everyone endures sadness, frustration and anxiety. Though it varies in degree, life’s a struggle for everyone. It’s just that we’re raised/trained to only see certain ways of coping as mentally ill, and thus to only deduce that people who cope in these ways have issues and need help. If people listen to music or watch movies, we don’t assume they do it to cope with stress, but why else would they do it? As Maslow says: “Man is a perpetually wanting animal”3 whose actions are all driven by never-ending needs like food, safety, love, esteem and fulfillment.
Do the ‘mentally ill’ suffer more due to their symptoms? No — their symptoms aren’t forced on them by demons or brain illness; there’s no puppeteer controlling them. So symptoms must be voluntary (even if not fully aware of it) learned coping tools that became habits since they work for the person in some way, just as music or movies do for the ‘non-ill.’ As Szasz says: Symptoms must be “adaptive as some kind of life strategy, economic or interpersonal… or else he would have already changed it.”4 Our huge brains and free will enable us to choose from among endlessly diverse coping tools. Some are considered healthy and others are considered ill. Symptoms don’t cause distress; they’re just terms used to connote certain ways of coping with it. Which ways?
If I cope by engaging in music-listening or any activity to the exclusion of working or interacting with others, then I’ll be viewed as suffering from anxiety, schizophrenia, addiction, depression or OCD. Since listening to music can be healthy or ill depending on its context, mental illness can’t refer to certain types of thought or behavior, after all. So the only part of the APA’s ‘mental illness’ definition that’s objective fact, not value judgment, is: reduced functioning in work (job) or social (ways of interacting that society approves) areas. The DSM is a hodgepodge of unrelated coping styles that only have this one issue in common; that’s why it’s the only criterion needed by all its disorders.
Why did such a misleading, stigmatizing concept as mental illness evolve?
A society only thrives if its members give up the freedom to pursue their selfish wants at will, and instead work as a team to contribute to the common good, in exchange for the benefits of life in a safe/efficient society. Rousseau5 and Hobbes6 called this the social contract. Thriving societies deter members from harming each other via laws enforced by police, courts and jails. A society’s success also depends on people disapproving of those who put their own desires ahead of others; morals and ethics via religion achieve this end. But there’s a third type of social contract violator:
Societies invest many resources into socializing their kids (raising them to channel their free will into roles that promote society’s continuance). If they instead learn to cope in ways that entail not working, not developing society-sustaining relationships, or disrupting others’ efforts to do so, then society will weaken. For example, if people detach from a society that hurt them and choose to create their own reality, this may be adaptive for them but harmful to their society’s efficiency, since they probably won’t work or form families.
In the 1800s, many people opted to cope in ways other than socially integrating and cooperatively working toward the overall good (in other words, they went mad). This was perhaps because factory life was crowded, harsh, monotonous and thus painful/unrewarding. Foucault related how doctors excluded and confined them while spinning it as treatment of illness.7 This increased society’s efficiency by restricting it to those who worked as a team to uphold it. The high, dark, barred-window asylum walls were visible to all and thus ominously and authoritatively warned others not to follow these outliers’ paths. It’s not that they didn’t function due to illness; they were called ill due to functioning in ways that violated the social contract.
In the 1900s, psychiatry expanded its domain to include coping styles associated with only mild job/socializing issues. Each DSM invented new illnesses, which as time went by required less and less functional impairment (in 2013 its Global Assessment of Functioning was ended to assist this trend), so that more people could be targeted. Now everyone meets criteria for them. People who don’t defy the social contract are tricked into going to MDs to heal newly identified ‘illnesses’ that are merely annoying but unavoidable aspects of life such as painful feelings or their kids’ immaturity.
Modern psychiatry transforms these working adults into disabled ones by sedating/addicting them and fooling them into thinking they’re too ill to work. It also causes capable kids to be deprived of chances to learn skills needed to become productive to society. Patients are put on SSD/medicare so doctors can get paid monthly forever. Creating permanent clients is where the real money’s at.
Psychiatry’s main role now is thus to stop more and more able-bodied people from contributing to society, and to offer them society’s benefits that are contingent upon their not contributing. Psychiatry has mutated from feared enforcer to parasitic saboteur of the social contract on a huge scale — so it’s now an outlier that’s threatening society’s survival, and thus must be banished.
‘Mental illness’ is just a concept that evolved as a means to dehumanize people who coped in ways that didn’t help society thrive, so as to justify their forced removal from society. This also warned others that they too could be taken away by men in white coats if they did not join in and chip in. Perhaps people will be less easily lured into accepting their mental illness after learning its true meaning.
- The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct. Szasz, T, 1961, New York: Hoeber-Harper. ↩
- “Why Has it Taken So Long for Biological Psychiatry to Develop Clinical Tests.” Kapur, S, et al, 2012 Molecular Psych 17, 1174-9. ↩
- “A Theory of Human Motivation.” Maslow, A, 1943, Psychological Review 50(4)370-96. ↩
- “Thomas Szasz on Freedom and Psychotherapy.” Wyatt, R, Psychotherapy.net, Dec 2000. ↩
- The Social Contract. Rousseau, J, 1762. ↩
- Leviathan. Hobbes, T, 1651. ↩
- Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. Foucault, M, 1965, Random House, New York. ↩
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.
Classic Greek writing mused on this over 2300 years ago, it is clearly in work by Xenophon on Socrates. There were no issues on it existing, but what was it in view of context, perception and knowledge ?
dr kelmenson—-very good question…WHAT ARE THEY…what is the true meaning of a person having panic attacks…
Panic attacks can come from differing sources, depending on the individual- things that can range from Mg deficiency to “cerebral allergies” (“psychiatric” reactions to foods and inhalants), to various malfunctionings of the adrenal system, to things like PTSD, where they get conditioned into you, to speak of several examples. To successfully treat them, you need to know their origins and the treatments for each of them (at least beyond psychiatric drugging, which is dangerous in unskilled hands).
How about fear of death? Do you have a “treatment” for that source? – A means to immortality? If so, please let me know. (You knew there would be incoming if you stayed out of the bunker for too long).
Please, LK. There is no treatment for death. That’s why the troops build and inhabit bunkers, when they’re going to be in one place long enough. Since I was a grunt, but not a psychiatrist, I can’t say anything inspiring about dying- but I can speak about misunderstood conditions that masquerade as “mental” illnesses because I seem to know more about them than the run-of-the-mill shrink.
L.K. I have a fear of death. But realize I better get over that, which I think won’t happen. I think it’s not so much the idea of death, but the fear that I will die with fear of death? Confused yet? But to try and lessen the fear of death might just intensify it, so I also have a fear of addressing my fear.
Simple answer: There is no “they.” “They” are not “mislabeled”; “they” do not exist, period. Behavior is decontextualized and falsely categorized to mystify people and get them arguing over false issues, such as this. We need to understand that psychiatry is not a science or an art, it is a tool of repression, period, and hooking into its narrative in any way is a trap (or an excuse, depending on the circumstance).
I do not know whether your comment is in response to my article or to the comment before yours. If it is to my article, then I cannot imagine that if you read the entire article, how you could say that I hooked into psychiatry’s narrative in any way. Please let me know.
It’s a reply to the question itself. I’ll get to the article soon. 🙂
OK I’m almost half way through, far enough to confirm my original sense of where you are indeed hooking into psychiatry’s narrative, however subtly, hence more insidiously.
[Let me first insert the obligatory reassurance that there is much of value in your article, though I hope you’re not actually that insecure.]
Saying they’re certain thoughts, emotions, or behaviors seems to be valid
This may seem persnickety but it’s key: Using the pronoun “they’re” at least strongly implies that there are “things” in search of an explanation, thus the pronoun. I love Dragon Slayer’s analogy of the Easter Bunny, which perfectly captures what I was referring to.
To spell it out more clearly (?) (Props to Bonnie Burstow for this particular analysis, or part of it.):
Taking people’s outward behavior and categorizing it in any way is not based on “science,” however one views the latter, and there are hordes of “progressives” (and others) out there eager to make names for themselves (not talking about you Lawrence!) based on this or that recategorization or redefinition of this illusory “thing” according to their particular hypotheses or ideologies. This is what Bonnie describes as the decontextualization of behavior.
Two people, each found walking down the highway spouting “word salad,” will have unique sets of experiences which led them to that state of affairs; they do not have “babbling down the street disorder” (or anything else).
Should LIttleTurtle say he has periods where he’s terrified to be in public, OldHead? I’m not being sarcastic.
I could make a case for the term “narcissist” not as a disease,but a role played in many dysfunctional families. Did they include “Winged Monkeys,” “Scapegoat,” and “Golden Child” in the DSM5? Lol.
People ought to read Szasz rather than quote him out of context. Then they could read Rousseau, Hobbes, and Foucault as well. Szasz wrote an entire book called “The Myth of Mental Illness.” But he also wrote several dozen other books. It’s a gross oversimplification to attribute to Szasz the idea that so-called “mental illnesses” are “problems in living.” That wasn’t his point. The main point, for Szasz, was that so-called “mental illness” is a myth, that is, that “mental illness” is a metaphor that psychiatrists use to label and to stigmatize others. Szasz was careful to distinguish between real illness and fake “mental illness.” “Mental illnesses” are not “problems in living.” “Problems in living” is one of the myriad excuses that psychiatrists use to justify and to conjure into existence fictitious diseases in order to legitimize their own practice. The key point for Szasz was that “mental illness” is not an illness like any other, such as cancer, diabetes, or malaria, but that psychiatrists “treat” “mental illnesses” as if they were real biological diseases. When Szasz referred to “problems in living” he was not attempting to justify the psychiatric activity of diagnosing fictitious diseases. He was doing precisely the opposite. His point was to show that there is no such thing as “mental illness,” and that it would be absurd to ask the question “If mental illnesses aren’t real, what are they?” Oldhead gets it right. To ask the question “If mental illnesses aren’t real, what are they?” is tantamount to wondering “If the Easter Bunny isn’t real, what is it?” It’s absurdity compounded by absurdity. There is no such thing as mental illness.
Slaying the Dragon:
Did you read the whole article? Maybe my title was not the best one, but the goal of my article was this: Since it is a reality that the concept is still wrongly accepted as real, then in order to convince people of its absurdity, we need to help them logically understand that it’s nothing more than a concept that evolved to serve a specific societal purpose/function, which I tried to do in step-by-step fashion in the article. Just yelling out over and over again “They don’t exist!” by itself hasn’t been enough to get people to question their beliefs, since they’re being bombarded with so many illogical lies by so many trusted authority figures. Please read the whole article and then get back to me. Then maybe you can join me in trying to explain what’s really been going on to the public.
Just yelling out over and over again “They don’t exist!” by itself hasn’t been enough to get people to question their beliefs
He’s doing more than that, he’s describing a deeper pattern of unwitting behavior on the part of many who consider themselves anti-psychiatry.
Yes, I read the whole article. Your aim is noble, but the method is still not quite right. The title is not the only misleading part about the article. As I mentioned above, and as Oldhead understands, you misquoted Szasz and presented a misleading idea about his critique of the false concept of “mental illness.” This may have been unintentional, but even unintentional misrepresentations of Szasz’s arguments are not going to help people to understand the myth of mental illness.
You claim in the opening lines of your article that “mental illness” IS something. No. It’s not. This was Szasz’s point. Of course psychiatrists claim that “mental illness” IS something. This is the problem. You correctly acknowledge that the APA’s fabricated definitions of fictitious diseases are nonsensical, and yet you insist on pretending that “mental illness” IS something and that there are “symptoms” of “mental illness” that require some sort of analysis. Then you cite Szasz again in support of something that he never would have supported. There is no part of the DSM’s fictitious labels that are objective fact. It is all fiction. Szasz understood this.
However, you raise a good question: “Why did such a misleading, stigmatizing concept as mental illness evolve?” Your response is an interesting one, if I understand it correctly. You appear to claim that the concept of “mental illness” evolved as a label to ostracize those who violate the social contract as outlined by political philosophers such as Hobbes and Rousseau. This claim is worth exploring. But there is a big difference between the claim that so-called “mental illness” is a stigmatizing label that is thrust upon innocent people and the claim that “mental illness” represents some real kind of coping mechanism. The latter definition plays right into the hands of psychiatry.
It is true that psychiatry excludes, confines, and labels people under the supposed authority of medicine and the fake diagnoses of “mental illness.” It is true that psychiatry disables capable and productive people through its vast array of drugging and abusive practices. It is also true that psychiatry must be abolished. But psychiatry has not mutated from feared enforcer to parasitic saboteur of the social contract. Psychiatry, from its inception, has always been both. So-called “mental illness” is not a concept that evolved as a means to dehumanize people who coped in ways that didn’t help society thrive. The myth of mental illness even attempts to dehumanize great leaders of the past who have done much to advance the cause of liberty. Hence psychiatry’s obsession with psychoanalyzing people like Churchill or Lincoln. The myth of “mental illness” has always dehumanized everyone, regardless of the ways in which they cope with the vicissitudes of life. By its very nature, it even dehumanizes the psychiatrists who practice soul doctoring, because it is all a pseudo-scientific jumble of lies.
While psychiatric survivors certainly welcome all self-appointed professionals and self-proclaimed experts to shed their pretended authority and false sense of prestige in order to help them combat the insidious modern form of slavery known as psychiatry, it is imperative that the myth of “mental illness” be understood for what it is. All rationalizations for psychiatry need to be discarded. Furthermore, misrepresentations of one of the greatest expositors of the myth of “mental illness” need to be corrected. This is nothing against you personally Lawrence, because the kind of work that you are doing is vital and appreciated.
Dr. Kelmenson is a good writer, but conveying the entire philosophy of Szazs in one short article is a tall order.
No one is asking anyone to convey the entire philosophy of Szasz in one short article. But I am asking that Lawrence, and others for that matter, not misquote or misrepresent Szasz in his articles. That’s not a tall order at all.
there is a big difference between the claim that so-called “mental illness” is a stigmatizing label that is thrust upon innocent people and the claim that “mental illness” represents some real kind of coping mechanism
Double bingo. The latter describes one of myriad reasons someone might end up being so-labeled, since the label is absurd by definition. Putting it differently, one reason people are labeled is their use of unorthodox coping tactics. Others are labeled because they are not unhappy about things others believe should make them miserable.
Why can’t it be both? I have experienced extreme thoughts/feelings that made me unable to function even before psychiatry interfered. If someone like Lawrence had explained, “Nothing is wrong with your brain, Rachel. What you are experiencing is a subconscious coping technique to escape your pain by fleeing reality,” I would have realized I actually WAS in control and snapped out of it more easily.
I felt empowered when I read Glasser’s theory about “creative symptoming.” Considering how many of us are artists (even in multiple mediums) it makes sense that madness is caused by our imaginations running wild.
I’m not challenging your assertions, Dragon. In fact, I find them to be rather compelling and logically sound. However, I simply want to ask you: the patterns of “symptoms” seen in the “mentally ill” (e.g. in regards to depression: anhedonia, fatigue, problems concentrating, irritability) have been observed for millennia, and because such symptoms so often accompany each other, labels have been assigned to these set of symptoms, hence the diagnoses “OCD,” “schizophrenia,” etc. If those sets of symptoms can’t be labeled as “mental illness,” and if mental illness is entirely fictitious, then what explains them? If you were to speak to a therapy circle with twelve men and women who suffer from “bipolar disorder,” how would you explain their struggles to them? Would you believe them to be lying about their symptoms? Would you attribute those “patterns of symptoms” to a conscious decision to suffer (in other words, their illness is a “choice”)?
I think the first thing to remember is that things like “anhedonia” and “fatigue” happen for a hundred different reasons. Labeling these phenomena as “illness” obviates the need to look further for the actual causes and potential cures for any REAL illnesses that might exist (such as anemia, low thyroid, heavy metal poisoning, etc.), and ALSO prevents the consideration that such phenomena may in fact be NORMAL reactions to adverse circumstances. Depression, anxiety, anger, hopelessness, excitement, all are part of the human experience, and to relegate them to “malfunctions” when they are in fact essential survival factors in life is in itself depressing and discouraging to people trying to make sense of their experience.
So no, people aren’t lying about what happened to them – no one denies that suffering occurs. The problem is the simplistic reduction of suffering to a “malfunction” in a person, as if suffering were not a normal part of life, as if everyone should always be “happy” regardless of their circumstances (but not TOO happy – that might be MANIC!)
It is not a choice between denying suffering exists and calling it an illness. We can all acknowledge suffering as an unavoidable and necessary part of life, as well as recognizing that people need support when they ARE suffering. We can also acknowledge that there MAY be physiological causes for SOME psychological suffering, but that absent an actual understanding of the cause or evidence of specific physiological pathology, we should assume that psychological suffering is the simple result of living in a confusing and at times challenging world, and that compassion, not medicine, is the best place to go to help.
Glad you could pick up where I left off, & glad you get it.
Now it’s only fair to proceed forthwith to the body of the article, as Dr. Kelmenson is certainly on “our side of the barricades,” at least in his general perspective.
“..If I cope by engaging in music-listening or any activity to the exclusion of working or interacting with others, then I’ll be viewed as suffering from anxiety, schizophrenia, addiction, depression or OCD..”
In present day terms, I would have thought that the problem would be supporting this type of lifestyle.
The mental institutions did come about at the same time as the industrial revolution when people existed in big anonymous groups. The institutions were also a very British type of invention.
In Victorian times people went to great lengths to protect their image so I suppose if people displayed too much emotional outburst or stepped out of line they could be diagnosed as ill. But a lot of people might genuinely have broken under the pressures.
In Ireland up to the 1970s people (mostly victims) were locked up in mental institutions for reasons of “moral conduct”.
What is it? In present day terms I think it’s being under control or being dependent on the “mental health” services.
I know that “The Mental Health Services” create very strong dependency.
The Victorian madhouses were abominable. But,honestly they imprisoned fewer people than today’s Madhouse Without Walls.
One prisoner in the madhouse is one too many, but even when trapped in the System I didn’t beg friends outside to come in for treatment. A woman I know was miserable, lonely, sick from drugs, and frequently threatened suicide. She had a friend she begged to come in for “help.”
I remembered thinking, “Good grief Cathy! We’re in Hell here. Why are you trying to recruit fellow sufferers!”
In the story The Rich Man and Lazarus, the selfish rich guy who let sick Lazarus starve at his gate still wanted to keep his brothers out of the Hell he wound up in. That would make Cathy more selfish than Dives. Did she honestly think her life at the Mental Illness Center was meaningful or happy?
Misery loves company.
They actually killed fewer people, and a lot of the crazy people went on to Recover.
That’s because of the lack of “safe and effective treatments.” Ha ha!
Lawrence, thank you for another thoughtful contribution. I enjoy your writing and always appreciate what you have to say. As you noted, there is no definition of “mental illness” or “mental disorder” that can withstand even mild scrutiny. No explanation of “mental illness” or “mental disorder” as a syndrome, illness, or disease holds up on either logical or scientific grounds. If we abandon the notion that psychological issues are medical illnesses, then how are we to think about them? I appreciate your take on this. I understand how conflicts between the individual and society, compounded by capitalism, can fuel psychological struggles. But I also think psychological struggles are so varied and sometimes so unique to the individual that there’s no grand theory that can be reasonably applied in any general way to the kinds of psychological issues that can be diagnosed using the DSM. For example, I have clients who pull their hair and pick blackheads on their skin, and are seeking help because they are distressed by the negative effects on their appearance. I have clients who are afraid of panic attacks that they think will cause them to have a heart attack and die. I have clients who have been catastrophically injured in car accidents who now cannot work or play with their kids. There are some social conflicts there, but also a lot of individual psychological concerns.
You wrote that “mental illness” is “nothing more than a concept that evolved to serve a specific societal purpose/function.” Totally agree. And I agree that it’s important to understand what that function is, and we can use different lenses to do it. To me, there are two obvious functions served by promoting the concept of “mental illness.” First, by construing diagnoses in the DSM (published by the APA) as mental illnesses, psychiatry appears credible as a medical specialty and can claim domain over “mental health” and the drugs used to “treat mental illness.” Second, construing psychological issues as “mental illness” provides a rationale for the use of psychiatric drugs to “treat” them, which funnels billions of dollars to the pharmaceutical industry. Personally, I don’t think we need to look much beyond these two functions to explain the popularity of the “mental illness” concept today.
Thank you. I appreciated your “House on Fire” article as a great analogy to get many important points across. As far as your saying that I said that conflicts with society fuel people’s “psychological struggles”, I didn’t imply that at all. I said that life is a struggle for everyone due to our perpetual needs/wants, and that certain ways of coping (those that help further society’s survival such as holding jobs) are called “healthy”, and other ways of coping (those that are harmful to society’s survival since they generally don’t involve working) are called “ill”. I then said that during the 1800s, society-promoting coping styles were so unpleasant/unrewarding, that it tipped the scales somewhat in favor of coping styles that were detrimental to society for many people. Thus, psychiatry was called in to “save the day”.
In the present day, it’s opposite in many ways; psychiatry has been using various tricks to tip the scales in favor of “ill” coping mechanisms – it enables busy, tired, older, unsupported parents to sedate their kids, instead of having to deal with raising them. It offers rewards like euphoria-giving drugs, permanent financial security, sympathy/attention, and evasion of guilt or responsibilities, in attempts to condition people to behave in ways that they would never have dared do in the 1800s, since they would have been dragged off, chained up, and never seen again if they did those things then.
But obviously this costs a lot of money,
and is supported by governments – what’s in it for them – (bribes?)
Our government leaders receive more lobbyist bribes from drug companies than any other industry. They would never rise in power unless they did business with them. It siphons off lots of taxpayer money – our health care industry is by far our biggest government expenditure. Even our public schools benefit financially from labeling kids with “disabling diseases”, since this results in more money being funneled to them.
Love your writing Lawrence… as far as the dollars go… if i fill bins with real mental… and make sure every one sees that, their gonna be pretty convinced real exists… weve got bins full of them,and from there the rest we get by advertising sick everywhere we can… so 25% in bins, on CTOs, and the other 75% going to GPs and chemists and paying squillions in drug tax dollars.. not sure but thats how my brain works out what they work out for dollars.
Couldn’t have said it better myself. This whole mystique of mental illness has only gone so far as to create pools of unwilling or unknowing victims to create a giant cash cow for psychiatry and big pharma. Big win for big pharma which goes hand in hand with today’s psychiatrists and the money pits that they create.
For those of you and it seems there are many of you that believe Thomas Szasz as the next coming of Jesus. Well, I’ve said this before and I will say it again, he had many great theories but there is no statistical data to support his findings. His book entitled “The Myth of Mental Illness” came out in 1961, 57 years old to date. Times change, people change and most importantly, society as a whole changes. What was right 57 years ago is most certainly not right today. This isn’t Ripley’s believe it or not, it’s today’s society. I question as to how well Thomas Szasz theories would hold up today? They probably wouldn’t and with that being said, old doesn’t get it today. GW Bush didn’t know the price of a loaf of bread when he ran against Bill Clinton, but then again why should he.
I don’t believe in mental illness, Dr. K has clearly stated his view supported by facts in this article. It’s a well written article and yet some of you circle like sharks on a feeding frenzy to critique. I suggest you stand on the wall and write your article and deal with the backlash it generates. See how it feels, I’ve always said it’s easy to critique but not be critiqued.
That’s the greatest thing about America is that you have that right and privilege to do so. For all you old dinosaurs out there that think Thomas Szasz is gospel, so be it, but he’s one man with many good ideas. He’s not perfect by any means and if you want to put him on a pedestal, so be it. I believe your wrong. His theories don’t hold water today because he has become outdated, much like Freud.
“Fresh from Freudian training himself, Dr. Szasz saw psychiatry’s medical foundation as shaky at best, and his book hammered away, placing the discipline “in the company of alchemy and astrology.” You guys remember Freud, you bashed him in Dr. K’s last article and yet this man started off as a Freudian disciple.
“In the present day, it’s opposite in many ways; psychiatry has been using various tricks to tip the scales in favor of “ill” coping mechanisms – it enables busy, tired, older, unsupported parents to sedate their kids, instead of having to deal with raising them. It offers rewards like euphoria-giving drugs, permanent financial security, sympathy/attention, and evasion of guilt or responsibilities, in attempts to condition people to behave in ways that they would never have dared do in the 1800s, since they would have been dragged off, chained up, and never seen again if they did those things then”.
Wow, does that paragraph from Dr. K say a lot. My point about Thomas Szasz, “attempts to condition people to behave in ways that they would never have dared do in the 1800s, since they would have been dragged off, chained up, and never seen again if they did those things then”.
Nothing else to say but a well written article Dr. K. It also clearly states the epidemic that we have today with psychiatry and big pharma and that needs to be stopped as soon as possible, Noble men like DR. K are trying to do so as are many of you this site. Job well done people. Keep it going.
mjms1165’s rants are humorous enough not to require a response, but the argument that “something is old, therefore it is irrelevant” is about as nonsensical as they come. Szasz was not a Freudian disciple. That is just utter nonsense. Thomas Szasz was a human being like any other, but his books and his ideas will outlast anything here on MIA, especially the incoherent rants against him, because he articulated certain verities that are perennially relevant to the ongoing battle against coercive psychiatry. This has nothing to do with putting Szasz on a pedestal, and everything to do with bringing his writings to the foreground so that people will actually read them instead of spouting off opinions about things of which they know next to nothing. And no one is questioning Lawrence’s nobility. He has made some great points in his articles. Anyone who understands the threat that psychiatry poses is worthy of commendation. But neither Szasz, nor you, nor I, nor Lawrence is God, and a civil exchange of ideas in the quest for truth is, or ought to be, one of the purposes of a website such as this.
Hey Slaying, keep on believing the old fool. It seems that everyone on this site is way too liberal. I’m glad that you find my responses humorous that don’t require a response. However, your slanted in one direction and I oppose that. “The Myth of Mental Illness” came out in 1961, 57 years old to date. Who wrote the bible that we all believe in? Do you know?
Clearly, it wasn’t Jesus and it was written after the fact. I find your responses way to slanted and one sided, I don’t find them humorous.
Ever wonder why you were rejected on this site, I know why, but I’ll behave. You consistently criticize Dr. K and his articles using your slanted perversion. Thomas Szasz was a Freud disciple who moved on from Feuding theories to suggest his own.
“But the argument that “something is old, therefore it is irrelevant” is about as nonsensical as they come”. Really, how do you justify that comment? I’m not say that old has no value, what I’m saying is that society has changed to a point that “old” just doesn’t get it in today’s society.
Let me ask you this, have you ever led 16 18 year olds in a combat situation, I bet not. Too me in this application Szasz would be useless because he can’t connect with the youth of today. My point is society is totally different today and with your slanted views, one of two things would happen, everyone gets killed or they never go into the fight because of your slanted, leftist views.
Have you ever run a $30 million dollar company where you work under duress seven days a week, I bet not. Please, by all means sit home, critique at will and know that you’ll always be safe because of people like me. You view me as humorous and I view you as slanted way to the left. I wonder why I protect people like you.
Personally, never liked liberals that much nor found much use for them. The truth is out there and men like Dr. K is standing on the wall and trying to institute change, I respect that and he’s good in my book. You on the other hand, well, that remains to be seen, hopefully, you can straighten yourself out some what so your more middle than slanted left.
Keep critiquing, your way too funny and your stuck to Szasz. Just think dinosaur, their extinct and so id Szasz, then you’ll be ok. Is there no one from today’s modern era that makes more pertinent points than Szasz?
Dear mjms1165, I agree with you that most people on this site are way too liberal, but I’m open to hearing them out. Who wrote the Bible? That’s a good question, but I’m not quite sure how it relates to anything in this thread, and I would be surprised if you could answer that question yourself, since the history of the creation of the Bible is so long and complex that very few could explain it adequately. There is a great book on the topic though, by Alister McGrath, called “In the Beginning,” and I highly recommend it. https://www.amazon.com/Beginning-Changed-Nation-Language-Culture/dp/0385722168
My article was rejected because it stated the truth too clearly and succinctly for Mr. Whitaker’s taste. Lawrence welcomes constructive criticism of his articles, and I’m sure that he understands that my criticisms are not aimed at him as a person, but simply to help clarify certain notions that might not be clear to his readers. Thomas Szasz studied Freud very thoroughly, and in some of his books he drew from Freudian theories, but he was also highly critical of Freud. No one who has actually read his works would ever claim that he was a “disciple” of Freud. In many ways, Szasz was the antithesis of Freud.
It’s actually very funny that you accuse me a being a leftist, since everyone else seems to wish to accuse me of being a libertarian. I’m neither. As for leading youth into battle… that has absolutely zero relevance to this thread, but I’ve had many great experiences in youth leadership. As for running a 30$ dollar company, that has even less relevance to this thread, but I hope that you will use some of that profit to help survivors of psychiatric torture, perhaps even victims of psychiatry in the military, since you take an interest in the military, and since psychiatry preys upon our soldiers as well.
As for protecting people like me, I’m really not sure what you mean. I assume that you have fought in the military and seen active duty. I’m always grateful to those who are willing to lay down their lives in the service of this great nation. Thank you. God bless you.
Lawrence does seem like a great man, and I agree with much of what he has to say about psychiatry. I’m very grateful that there are people like Lawrence who see through psychiatry’s lies and are willing to speak out. I assure you that there is nothing remotely left-leaning in my political perspective, although I can appreciate any person who is sincerely seeking for the truth or who is willing to stand up to coercive psychiatry.
Szasz is a great writer and with regards to psychiatry, one of the best critics and thinkers. If he is a dinosaur, that’s alright with me. He might just be the dinosaur that helps to slay the dragon of psychiatry. There are many great modern critics of psychiatry (Whitaker, Breggin, Burstow, Moncrieff, etc.), but none of them has seen as far or as clearly the things that Szasz saw many decades ago. Perhaps Lawrence can help me out here, since we’re actually on the same side. The truth that we share is always greater than our differences.
Is there no one from today’s modern era that makes more pertinent points than Szasz?
And I forgot to add… I wrote an article for Mad in America, but it was rejected. How’s that for critique. I’m not just critiqued for telling the truth, I’m silenced.
Dear Dragon Slayer,
“My article was rejected because it stated the truth too clearly and succinctly for Mr. Whitaker’s taste”. The truth according to whom, you? We never got to read or critique your article. The truth is out there my friend and obviously the site didn’t think your writing was too truthful or factual enough to publish.
I’m glad that you tried and please try again. I would welcome your thoughts so don’t get discouraged, keep trying. This is not my profession, but I will say that I will support someone that’s making an effort to change things (Dr. K) and critique those that go after him in slanted way, in other words, too one sided and in this case, it’s Thomas Szasz and your opinion of the misinterpretations that Dr. K presented.
“As for leading youth into battle… that has absolutely zero relevance to this thread, but I’ve had many great experiences in youth leadership”. Teaching youth leaders is great, however, it’s quite safe and no harm comes to anyone. That’s where you’re wrong and you can’t compare the two, if you can’t understand youth in a combat situation, people die.
Then, as the leader, it’s your responsibility, to write the letter home, perhaps they were too immature, perhaps they were way to gung ho, in any case, military leaders have to understand each and every soldier and what makes them tick, know how to motivate them, calm them of their fears.
Clearly, at this time you’re not dealing with “mental illness”, however, after the battle and lives are taken and lost and these people have time to reflect what they did and what they saw, it definitely changes people, some end up with PTSD after the fact.
The question I have is PTSD real, or is it just an overwhelming feeling of guilt. Battle field conditions can be harsh and you see things that you never wished that you did. We, as a people are not raised to kill people; it hits some people really hard, while others just simply deal with it. No one wants to take a life and those that deal with clearly suffer an internal struggle to carry on. So this thread is pertinent to this thread.
Same goes with running a $30 million dollar a year company, you deal with a multitude of personalities. I have over 100 employees that report to me and again, you as the leader have to know what buttons to push to get some of them to perform and be able to handle a multitude of different people and situations. Everyone has a hot and cold button, 10% of my work force has been deemed with mental Illness” by doctors. So this thread is pertinent to this thread. This is not an easy task and you as the leader are expected to meet company requirements on a daily basis while balancing your work force.
No, it’s not office psychiatry per say, but it is important to this thread. Both in the military and civilian life job require me to be somewhat of a psychiatrist.
Your good in my book Dragon Slayer, just stop leaning towards the left, you may be a libertarian, but you shift left to me. I presented two real world situations from the military and civilian life. Respect what I did and what I do now. You guys on this site are too set in stone to change, but so be it, I respect you all and your findings, and if I don’t agree from a logical perspective, I will respond in par.
I don’t tolerate bullying in any way, shape or form and if I feel that your being over critical, I will respond. I respect and think very highly of Dr. K and that he has the stones to stand on that wall and defend. Sure, Dr. K takes criticisms well, what else is he supposed to do. It’s his article, now that is man that would be good under fire because he does not crack. He may not be able to handle all the nastiest of a battlefield, he clearly has the strength to stand up to his critiques on here.
Peace Dragon Slayer, may your night be full of fun and laughter.
I have over 100 employees that report to me and again, you as the leader have to know what buttons to push to get some of them to perform
WTF??? Is this socially necessary work you’re in charge of overseeing with military precision, or just more dehumanizing shit work with the ultimate goal of making a profit?
I’m sure Dragon Slayer will get a chuckle over being called a “leftist.”
🙂 🙂 🙂
I’ve been called a libertarian and a leftist. What next? Maybe some will mistake me for a psychiatrist.
Uh, I’m a little confused here. So Thomas Szasz wrote The Myth of Mental Illness 57 years ago. Has “mental illness” become any less of a myth today than it was 57 years ago? If not, doesn’t that put Szasz 57 years ahead his time (& perhaps even then some)?
I don’t think things were necessarily so bad in the 1800s. It has been pointed out that some people back then could be dragged away for being a run away slave. There was even a doctor who came up with a diagnosis for people who tried to escape slavery, drapetomania. ODD, ADHD, SAD, and on and on. Do you think diagnostic labels today have become any less mythic, and more factual than they were? Nuff Said.
construing psychological issues as “mental illness” provides a rationale for the use of psychiatric drugs to “treat” them, which funnels billions of dollars to the pharmaceutical industry.
There IS lots of money in weaponry (drugs) just as there’s money in attack aircraft, however although contracts can be canceled and renegotiated, the need to justify psychiatry OR the military in the eyes of the population is paramount; thus I would add
Third, construing problems in living as “illnesses” removes the problem from the collective sphere, which would mandate immediate and (to the status quo) unacceptable changes in the structure of society, and relegates it to the status of an “individual” problem requiring an individual solution, if any, and the back burner in terms of any collective relevance or urgency.
OK, part two:
There are actually a number of issues on different levels being conflated here, all worth discussing but in need of some sorting out. I will again repeat my initial criticism of the implicit acceptance, not of terms but of the legitimacy of categories, however “mislabeled”; I again refer people to Dragon Slayer’s “Easter Bunny” example, which is not at all snide but perfectly descriptive of the seemingly unrecognized contradiction here.
However I also note this important insight:
the only part of the APA’s ‘mental illness’ definition that’s objective fact, not value judgment, is: reduced functioning in work (job) or social (ways of interacting that society approves) areas. The DSM is a hodgepodge of unrelated coping styles that only have this one issue in common;
Gee, isn’t it nice of the corporate state to care so much about our ability to contribute to their bottom line, and develop the sort of dehumanized discipline in our personal lives which maximizes said contribution?
Oldhead, the Mental Illness System did everything they possibly could to prevent me from working most of the time. They weren’t interested in what I could contribute to society per se, but how more guinea pig/prisoners could contribute to their personal wallets.
Well, they may have written you off as a loss in terms of your profit potential; at that point they just want to make sure you don’t suck up any more of “their” money than they can get away with.
I have a job interview soon. Up yours Psych System! Psych used to be slang for phony. So I love to refer to psych pills and psych doctors. If I wrote a memoir about my experiences I would call it “Psyched.” As in fooled.
I was out to get a job working in the “mental health” system once. In Virginia they had a human services training program for whatchamacall’ems, consumer user peers, and I was going to go to college and get “trained”. Most of these “peer” hotshots that were up there in the *cough, cough* movement in Virginia, where I was anyway, had been through it. Had I completed “training”, which I didn’t, I would have probably started, like some of them did, on one of these assertive community treatment teams. The thing I would have been hired to do, in all probability, would have been to make sure this person or that, judged needing intensive treatment, was taking his or her neurotoxins. I was never going to be a part of that pretense. I pulled out of the program eventually. I don’t think Virginia is unusual in this regard. The official “peer” movement is corrupt in this fashion, advancing compliant patients, and backing into a corner the defiant ones. My solution: The “mental health” system goes over there, and I certainly don’t want to work for it in any way, shape, or form. Go bribe anybody else.
Oldhead and Dragon Slayer:
I am glad you brought up the Easter Bunny. The Easter Bunny and Santa Claus are in fact “something”, just as “mental illness” is, and in fact have much in common: These are all social constructs that evolved as means to support the social contract. With Santa and the Easter Bunny, they provide moral models of how it’s better to give to the common good than to just take care of own’s own needs, and the Santa story promotes “good” behavior, ethics, and morals, since he only rewards nice, not naughty, children. These powerful social constructs are all means of guiding/raising kids to become productive to society as adults, so they can’t be dismissed as absurd “nothings”.
It’s difficult to argue with someone who still believes in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. There’s just a minor difference to keep in mind. While the myths of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are reinforced to delight little children, the myth of mental illness is propagated in order to justify the torture, drugging, abuse and even murder of innocent little children, the homeless, the elderly, and indeed anyone who is unlucky enough to fall into the trap of psychiatry. The fact remains, however, that mental illness is a myth. The evils perpetrated in the name of psychiatry, under the guise of medicine, are very real, but the lies, or the myths, if you will, that are invoked to justify these atrocities are no more real or true than those that have been fabricated for ostensibly good reasons. Just because millions upon millions of people believe a myth does not make it real or true. Mental illness does not become a “thing” merely by invoking it as such or by describing it as a social construct that is employed in order to maintain a social contract. Neither Hobbes or Rousseau wrote specifically of mental illness. It would be better to trace the concept of “mental illness” to its origins in order to understand who came up with the term and why. Another valuable exercise is to seek to understand the invention of “schizophrenia,” which is, as Szasz called it, the “sacred symbol of psychiatry.” Myths and symbols such as “mental illness” and “schizophrenia,” as well as the “chemical imbalance” hoax, were concocted not to support a social contract, but to justify or legitimize the unjustifiable and illegitimate practices of psychiatry. The social contract requires that citizens knowingly and purposefully relinquish certain rights to a sovereign in order to provide for the protection and the common good of those same citizens. Hobbes derived his social contract from a state of nature in which men are motivated only by fear of violent death during a lifetime that is nasty, brutish, and short. Rousseau’s state of nature was an attempt to go further back, to pre-political man. This doesn’t mean that either Hobber or Rousseau were correct about the state of nature, nor does it mean that the social contract that emerged in the American founding required the myth of mental illness in order to operate. Quite the contrary. The myth of mental illness, if anything, developed as a way to lend credence to an illegitimate pseudo-scientific enterprise that stands in direct opposition to any social contract, properly understood. Whatever the case, the myth of mental illness is more accurately compared to the myths associated with witches and witch hunts. Another comparison is the practice of ostracism in Ancient Greece. Such practices may have been justified as methods for maintaining the social order, but such justifications are no more part of the social contract than mythical “mental illness” is part of the social contract.
It’s the forest for the trees (or the Emperor’s new clothes) and I’m afraid you just don’t get what we’re saying yet.
So what IS the Easter Bunny really?
What IS Santa Claus? What IS the tooth fairy? What IS Peter Pan? What ARE leprechauns? Inquiring minds want to know.
The Science of Psychiatry has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that severe mental illness is caused by tiny little neuro-gremlins that live in your skull. This gel capsule contains tiny peanut butter jelly sandwiches. The gremlins eat the sandwiches which makes them full and happy so they won’t take over and make you do bad stuff.
Real science, people!
Neuro-gremlins! I knew it! Miniature peanut butter sandwiches will solve everything! That IS real science. Finally, some real scientific answers.
Well, aren’t we basically social creatures, and when we have those needs met, we feel reasonably good, and when we don’t, we feel bad. It’s built into our brains to make us feel bad, so we will be motivated to somehow get our needs met, and thus it makes us more likely to survive. Those who can’t get what they need feel bad, act differently, have internal conflicts, and when society, that is, people, don’t think it’s important to meet a certain person’s needs, then it suits them to label the aforesaid person as “ill” in some way, to label them, to help justify casting them on the scrap heap. Our social nature can go different ways, one competitive, where winners create losers, and the other cooperative, where each person is an asset. Maybe it is instinctive which way people choose, based on conditions, beliefs about what is valuable, or what may happen in the future.
I haven’t carefully read all the comments here – therefore my apologies in case I am repeating something. As I see it, people do occasionally struggle with mental issues (“problems in living”) for which they seek ways of coping. However, ALL symptoms listed in the DSM (that is currently used to assign various disease labels) appear to happen as a continuum in the general population [reference: Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia (2017) by the British Psychological Society Division of Clinical Psychology]. It is just that as a result of specific life experiences, some people sometimes have extreme readings in some of the symptoms.
As I see it, instead of assigning labels to people (which massively contribute to stigma), why not use some type of a coding system that can be used by doctors only to record an individual’s list of symptoms such as their level of stress, the level anxiety, fear, etc., so that the progress of the patient can be monitored. A code may look like A3S5W8. Once these numbers return to normal levels, the person can be considered as ‘recovered’ (or if someone doesn’t like the term ‘recovered’, they can consider that person as no longer needing further help for their “problems in living”). I think such a system (instead of the current DSM disease labeling) can go a long way in reducing stigma and would also reduce further progression of these conditions because the client would no longer believe that they have some kind of a “brain disease” (we need to remember that negative expectations lead to negative outcomes through “nocebo effects” – i.e., opposite of placebo effects).
why not use some type of a coding system that can be used by doctors only to record an individual’s list of symptoms such as their level of stress, the level anxiety, fear, etc., so that the progress of the patient can be monitored.
Because psychiatry is not medicine, emotions are not symptoms, and unhappy people are not sick?
“Mental illness” is “pathologized unhappiness?”
Yes, modern psychiatry has expanded its net so much, that anyone who experiences unpleasant emotions (which is everyone) is now a potential customer for one of its miracle quick-fix cures. Step right up and be dis-abilified.
“Mental illness”, Steve Spiegel, is what “mental health treatment” workers sell.
are sick people sick oldhead
Hi Oldhead – I think you are being too extreme in denying people’s lived experiences. Regarding your reply:
(i) psychiatry is not medicine: Of course psychiatry is not medicine, but there are other ways of helping people without giving psychiatric medicines.
(ii) emotions are not symptoms – yes, but people sometimes feel psychologically agitated enough to be unable to go to work anymore, feel suicidal, etc., – they seek help, so there can be a system in place to bring back these emotions to ‘normal’ (functional) levels.
(iii) unhappy people are not sick – I agree, but as I have stated in (ii), people have difficulties that THEY experience, and express the need for some type of help with. Unlike for physical conditions, they do not need any medicine, but some type of emotional assistance can help.
If someone comes to you psychologically agitated and if this person has limited social support and spiritual support, what would you tell that person? – would you simply say “get over with it”? I would like to know.
I’ll answer your rhetorical questions when you explain where and how I have denied anyone’s “lived experience.”
Old head: As I see it, the intention of these discussions we are having at MIA is to ultimately generate ideas regarding how mental issues (let’s refer to them as “problems in living”) people have can be resolved. It is not about whether someone has said/not said something in previous comments, or about how good/bad someone’s comments are, etc. So, I am just asking you the simple question “If someone comes to you psychologically agitated what would you tell that person?” If you do not wish to answer, at least you can reflect on this. 🙂
Why would I tell them anything?
Can you think of a more general question?
Simple. If it’s not defamatory enough they won’t get public support for involuntary “treatment” as easily.
Lawrence and all
I agree with several of Slaying the Dragon’s and Oldhead’s criticisms, however, they do not go far enough and leave out some vitally important points. This is especially true when looking at what is misguided and missing from Lawrence’s final concluding remarks.
Lawrence you said: “Psychiatry’s main role now is thus to stop more and more able-bodied people from contributing to society, and to offer them society’s benefits that are contingent upon their not contributing. Psychiatry has mutated from feared enforcer to parasitic saboteur of the social contract on a huge scale — so it’s now an outlier that’s threatening society’s survival, and thus must be banished.”
When you say psychiatry is “threatening society’s survival…,”what “society” are you referring to? Here you are missing the historical reality that Psychiatry has now become an essential institution in maintaining the current class based/profit system of capitalism.
Psychiatry has become (especially over the past 4 decades) a key instrument of social control maintaining the status quo by disabling (through labeling, drugging and incarcerating) the potentially more volatile sections of society who are most harmed by the system, AND most likely to be part of a movement rebelling against it. Here I am referring to women, minorities, rebellious white working class youth, student rebels, and other non-conformists and system outliers. The very forces in society who formed the backbone of rebellions in the 1960’s.
Secondarily, Psychiatry and their disease based/drug Medical Model focuses everyone’s attention on personal and/or genetic flaws in human beings as the cause of society’s lack of progress beyond the “dog eat dog”, “survival of the fittest” concepts of human nature promoted as a means to JUSTIFY the need for a class based/profit system. AND it further justifies accepting all the inequalities and the overall state of perpetual war as an unfortunate necessity of life given this so-called “fixed” state of human nature. Ashley Montagu called them “genetic theories of “original sin.””
The current ruling classes propping up this capitalist system have totally written off certain sections of society as being no longer necessary to preserve their system. They DON’T CARE if inner city minorities ever work or become productive in society. They know their system is NOT CAPABLE of incorporating them into the mainstream of society with jobs etc. – so therefore, label them, drug them, shoot them, jail them, isolate them, but DON’T let them become a disruptive force in society. This is also true of the other more volatile sections mentioned above.
So Lawrence when you say that “…Psychiatry’s main role now is thus to stop more and more able-bodied people from contributing to society…,” this completely misses the mark in not grasping psychiatry’s central role of “social control.”
AND while “Slaying the Dragon” can make some good critical remarks about the myth of “mental illness,” his OVERALL analysis falls WAY SHORT of grasping an historical understanding of the actual power position and role that Psychiatry has in contemporary capitalist society, AND especially how it is being used to hold back social rebellion. He makes these errors because of his total uncritical worship of Thomas Szasz, which leads him to adopting the very same libertarian type political blind spots that plagued Szasz and prevented him from further advancing the anti-psychiatry cause when he was alive.
Psychiatry used to play the social-control (efficiency-expert) role, but now sees everyone as a potential permanently-dependent, disabled customer (and starts recruiting/manufacturing them in early childhood), and is thus a parasite to society. That’s pure greed, and not conducive to our society’s survival. In “Brave New World” it was the opposite; people took drugs that kept them working at their jobs, which kept society at maximum productivity.
Yes, Psychiatry and Big Pharma are trying to expand their markets (it’s very profitable), but it is very important to see how “selective” they are in terms of focus and strategic importance.
And don’t get me wrong here, I am not presenting some type of conspiracy theory here. No, Psychiatry and Big Pharma did not sit in some secret place back in the 1960’s or 1970’s and specifically design this Medical Model to target potential rebellious elements in society.
No, this whole paradigm has instead slowly evolved in this direction. For example, let’s look at the role of psych drugs in prisons. Fifteen or twenty years ago, prison authorities would often DENY psych drugs to the prison population. Many times they would suffer terrible withdrawal because they were denied access to their prescription drugs.
However, this has now changed since prison authorities have grown to understand (over time) that these drugs (and the threat to deny them) can be used as an effective tool in controlling the prison population.
Lawrence, your above answer has NOT addressed the two main points I made about how Psychiatry (using labels and drugs AND “genetic theories of “original sin””) has become a vital instrument of social control targeting certain potentially volatile sections in our society. Do you disagree with my analysis.
The reason for the continued failure of antipsychiatry is precisely the confused kind of thinking that informs Richard’s political and historical perspective. It’s unfortunate, really, because he, and many others, are absolutely right about the coercive nature of psychiatry. This confused thinking is what has caused Szasz’s keen insights to be dismissed, ignored, or diluted all along. Thus one of antipsychiatry’s greatest allies and most insightful commentators is dragged under the bus by the very people who would most benefit from reading his books. I don’t agree with Szasz in every respect, but his libertarianism drives closer to the truth about freedom than the fanatical, utopian, socialist dogmatism that has been the downfall of many prior movements and will be the downfall of antipsychiatry as well. I write this as one who is also critical of Szasz’s libertarianism, but from the opposite direction. Instead of looking to 60s liberationism as a source of inspiration, antipsychiatrists would do well to develop a bit of historical perspective (something that Szasz did quite well), and look to original antipsychiatrists such as Karl Kraus. A broader and deeper historical and philosophical, not to mention literary, perspective is what enabled people like Kraus and Szasz to see psychiatry for what it is, namely a pseudo-scientific arm of the therapeutic state. Capitalism did not cause psychiatry. Psychiatry has flourished in socialist, communist, and fascist regimes, and as the United States drifts ever further away from its origins toward the aforementioned extremes, psychiatry grows and flourishes here as well. Does psychiatry prey upon the weak and the vulnerable in society? Of course. But it preys on the rich and the powerful as well. Psychiatry is no respecter of persons. Every single person is a potential victim of psychiatry. The marketing of madness does not discriminate. In fact, the therapeutic state spreads its tentacles over the entire world, and it draws into its gory jaws anyone who has not been immunized against its deceptions.
Well, I think it helps not to confuse antipsychiatry with anticapitalism. Some people are antipsychiatry, some people are anticapitalist, and some people are both. Expecting everybody to be both is expecting a little too much.
Good point Frank. Thank you.
The reason for the continued failure of antipsychiatry is precisely the confused kind of thinking that informs Richard’s political and historical perspective.
You’re biting off way more than you can chew here, you have little comprehension of Richard’s historical perspective as you’re too preoccupied with your own. “The continued failure of anti-psychiatry” is effected not by anyone’s abstract philosophy but as a result of the population being hypnotized by the PR and mind control machinations of the corporate state. However I believe the arena in which it is currently most effectively countered is that of basic civil rights law, but this still requires a militant mass struggle to make it successful..
I don’t see the antipsychiatry movement, so long as it exists, as a failure. Psychiatry is so pervasive, powerful, and invasive. It has the drug companies behind it, and the law and order people, not to mention the mental health movement. The fact that there is an antipsychiatry movement at all I see as a major success story. It may be the bug-a-boo of psychiatry, but so be it. Let psychiatrists beat themselves up over the matter.
I agree with both of you, Frank and Oldhead. I need to clarify what I mean by the failure of the antipsychiatry movement. I too believe that it is a success, even if there is just one person who opposes psychiatry. What I mean by the failure of the antipsychiatry movement is actually that psychiatry continues to grow and that its false notions continue to proliferate, or as Oldhead put it, there is “a population hypnotized” by psychiatry. It may indeed require a militant mass struggle to combat psychiatry, but the mobilization of such an effort will require something more than the antipsychiatry movement has been able to muster thus far. Ideas have consequences, and bad ideas or flimsy reasoning has consequences for antipsychiatry as well. I believe in the eventual success of antipsychiatry, and that everyone who justly opposes psychiatry has a part to play, even if his or her particular historical or political insensibilities prevent him or her from understanding how that success will really come about.
How do you prove a false hypothesis? As a movement antipsychiatry may have it’s challenges, but psychiatry has these pretenses of being a branch of medical science. Whatever God it may be that psychiatry has on its side, there’s a good chance that God isn’t science.
I was at one time trying to work with a local “mental health” group, a group that was claiming, far from the truth, to be inclusive. Their FB page had something about how people wishing to work with them had to believe in this thing they called “mental illness”. Does anybody really think the “mental illness” deity is going to save psychiatry in the end?
Bio/psycho/social some people say. Why bio? Primarily because of drug damage, that is, iatrogenic doctor caused damage. The idea that a psychiatric diagnosis makes a person genetically defective is as absurd as the idea that being born non-white, of non-European ancestry, does so.
Take away the bio, and you don’t have medicine, you have fraud. Psychology/s aren’t something that can be damaged, although they can perhaps be exposed. “Mental illness” as a social disease is an abstraction (i.e. not literally a disease). Diseases that effect society are plagues, epidemics, viruses, and infections. Misbehaving is not, and cannot be, a disease.
Psychiatry is a weapon. It can be used by either side, just like an AK.
Psychiatry doesn’t really care about the labels, they are there as a method to use drugs to control behaviour, and in doing so, destroy peoples health. They are at one with their drugs and any type of creative thinking to work out how better to be, – save soft look marketing for more of the same – including to conceive of their own abolition… this is not allowed to even be in thought. Indeed it would be more evidence of ‘mental illness’. They have no where to go. To face up to the truth would be to empty themselves… in Greek: κένωσις kenosis. Only they would be receptive to their own disgrace of neurotoxic destruction. This can not be allowed to begin to happen. But it is there, lurking, ready to take hold on their conscience.
I need help here…there is a lot of talk…I have a problem with panic attacks…
do I have panic….do I have attacks…
and what is causing these panic attacks…
do I need help…where should I get help…
what kind of help…I would like some help for this…
it is causing a problem in my life…
frankly I don’t care what szasz wrote…
“what is causing these panic attacks…”
If you care to believe me: sustained stress, causing lack of magnesium in the brain.
In my observation, the best answers come from others who have panic attacks. They DO happen, but they don’t get better (as you have no doubt observed) by being labeled and blamed and having things done TO us! I don’t suffer from long-term repeated attacks, but I have had a few, and have also helped a lot of other people get through them and eventually reduce their frequency, mostly by listening to them and understanding what was going on behind the attacks. There is also an immediate intervention path involving things like meditation, food health, breathing, exercise, supplementation, etc. that many find helpful but that you will almost NEVER find any doctor (and especially any psychiatrist) telling you about. And of course, there is also the need to look at the big-scale SOCIAL issues that create so much of the anxiety that many if not most members of Western society feel – the need for employment, lack of healthcare, corruption in government, institutionalized violence, racism, sexism, and so on.
One thing I HAVE found helpful in reducing years of chronic anxiety is to start recognizing that beneath my anxiety is ANGER and RAGE at how I have been treated. As I have learned to stop and SPEAK UP when I feel wronged or dismissed, I have had less and less experience of generalized anxiety about my life. Of course, I feel anxiety big time in the moment I take on my antagonist, but I feel SO much better when I just handle it in the moment it occurs – I feel self-respect and a sense of power, things I never felt much as a kid when I learned anxiety as a way of dealing with a world where I was small and my voice counted for little to nothing. That’s just my path, I’m sure there are many other paths, but the answer for me lay in identifying and feeling OK about my own RAGE regarding how I’d been treated as a kid, and feeling more and more OK about expressing my CURRENT rage (usually very respectfully, but not always) when I was feeling mistreated in the here and now.
Hope that provides some useful perspective!
When people have been successfully lured by psychiatry into seeing themselves as victims of “brain disease symptoms”, they give up their free will to actively address/solve their own problems and choose their own paths, and instead passively put their lives at the mercy/control of a field that wants them to be helpless and thus fools them into thinking they have unsolvable problems. Psychiatry then conditions them with rewards (like permanent financial security and victim status) to always stay in that role and to let it become all that they are. That’s what causes healthy, productive, understandable emotions to be turned into fake “crippling diseases” like panic disorder, depression, OCD, bipolar disorder, etc. That’s how people become unable to help themselves, even though we are amazingly adaptive creatures. It all starts with acceptance of the medical model and can only end with rejection of it, which is how Szasz can help people help themselves, if they do want to change.
Excellent point. Spot on.
Great. Excellent point. Spot on.
what is the excellent point…I still haven’t learned…is the point no psychiatry
The weakness of your above comment is that you are focusing on “individuals” taking control of their own lives in response to the built in forms of “learned helplessness” promoted by the Medical Model.
Yes, of course I would be making this a big part of my agenda (as a therapist doing counseling) when dealing with particular clients coming to me with these kinds of problems.
BUT your approach fails to address the larger systemic issues driving these forms of human alienation etc. In other words, you could do your very BEST work with some of these clients who will still end up staying stuck and mired in “learned helplessness” because the various aspects of financial and social stressors are so overwhelming in society that they will REMAIN crushed by the system.
These are fundamentally institutional and SYSTEMIC problems inherently built into a class based capitalist system. THIS IS STRUCTURAL OPPRESSION THAT SHOULD NOT BE REDUCED TO INDIVIDUALS WHEN SEEKING THE SO-CALLED SOLUTION TO THESE MUCH BIGGER PROBLEMS.
This is why you have a libertarian, such a “Slaying the Dragon,” (who worships at the feet of “free market” capitalism), SO QUICKLY cosigning your above comment. He does not want to penetrate beneath the surface and search for where the sources of human alienation reside in contemporary capitalist society.
Lawrence, your above analysis is “enabling” a libertarian perspective to get over with only a surface understanding of the nature of these deeply structural problems.
I think we have a chance here at MIA of helping more and more people avoid the inevitable disaster that will ensue if they look to a psychiatrist for any kind of “help”. That, and educating America about my field’s poisonous lies before they damage our society beyond repair, are my only goals. This won’t solve all the issues stressing them, but at least it will keep them from being made a million times worse by psychiatry.
With all due respect Richard, I’m not even a libertarian, and I don’t worship Szasz or capitalism. But Szasz and capitalism are not the problems. In fact, they may be part of the solution. Lawrence is actually right. While you, Richard, seem to view human beings as inherently helpless victims of an oppressive system, Lawrence understands that human beings are free moral agents with the capacity to rise above systemic oppression. This in no way denies the fact that psychiatry is a system of coercion, oppression, torture, abuse, drugging, and even murder. Nor does it deny the fact that there is an obvious financial incentive on the part of psychiatry and the pharmaceutical companies to keep people trapped in the system for as long as possible. However, the real sources of human alienation, as is evidenced by the totalitarian regimes of the last century, were not a result of capitalism or libertarianism. In fact, free nations with free markets were instrumental in putting an end to the tyrannical socialist and national socialist regimes that crushed their citizens and that used psychiatry as one of their weapons of coercion and destruction. Is it not yet abundantly clear that psychiatry has been a handmaiden to anti-capitalist regimes? Psychiatry flourishes even more as the United States becomes more and more like decadent, socialist Europe.
If you call Europe more “socialist” and “decadent” than the U.S. then we are truly living in a different dimension or universe. And that is especially the case if you actually believe the U.S. is becoming more “socialist.”
You throw science and logic completely out the window with a comment like that. How can there even be a conversation? Where are your definitions of these terms???
Let me see if I understand you correctly, Richard. You actually believe that Europe has traditionally been less socialist and decadent than the United States, and that the U.S. is becoming less socialist? Did you miss that whole decade of Obama? Does the name Bernie Sanders ring a bell? Then you claim that science and logic inform your position? Please help me to understand who your political influences are, and which books you are reading. Your comments truly defy common sense, but I’m willing to bet that you have reasons for them.
The USA has objectively become less socialist since the Carter administration or before. Even the ACA, which everyone accuses of being socialistic, is a market-based attempt to address unaffordable healthcare while assuring no interruption in insurance industry profitability. I suppose you could call it socialism for the insurance companies, but it’s nothing like what exists in Europe, Japan or other truly socialist countries.
You seem to have a knee-jerk opposition to socialism. I don’t see it as a cure-all by any means, but neither is the “free market”, at least when you get larger than a small community. Almost every Western government today mixes capitalistic and socialistic policies, for very good reason: unfettered capitalism leads to sweatshops and crime and rampant poverty, and unfettered socialism leads to the Soviet Union or something of the sort. People need incentives to work, but corporations can’t be trusted to work in the interests of anyone but themselves, as the recent developments in psychiatry should assure anyone.
Given that this is what has developed almost anywhere you can think of as a first world country, it appears to be what works. Why the emotional rejection of “socialism” when it’s part and parcel of every country’s success, including ours?
I don’t go for the whole “more” or “less” socialist train of thought. The U.S. has never been remotely socialist or anything close, unless one gets their definition from Sean Hannity.
It’s funny that everyone seems to be simply instructed by reason, science, and logic, whereas those who disagree with them must obviously be expressing opinions based exclusively upon fits of emotion. Funny, but not true. There is nothing remotely objective about the notion that the USA has become less socialist since the Carter administration or before. That is an opinion, not an objective fact. Of course there is a difference between European or Japanese socialism and that which is spreading in the United States. But many very smart people see clearly how the United States has long been drifting toward European style socialism. Does this mean that capitalism is God’s pure truth and doctrine of financial salvation? Of course not. But does that mean that Marx was right? No. I recommend Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” for a lesson in economics.
I repeat, there are NO truly socialist countries currently (the closest would be Cuba). What is being discussed here is “social-democracy,” which is neither socialist nor democratic.
Slaying the Dragon:
I believe the “helpless victim” aspect to our culture is partly the result of psychiatry (and the mental health field overall) increasingly promoting/indoctrinating this identity into our culture, as a way to generate more passive/dependent “patients”, and thus more income. When you spoke of people having the free will to resourcefully rise above oppression (and self-reliantly adapt to other challenges) – that’s how America began and grew strong. But I fear that identity is being replaced by a helpless victim-focused one that’s strengthening psychiatry’s hold over, and weakening, America.
I agree with you 100%. Excellent point.
Although I do need to add something. The strength and virtue of the American colonists was admirable and one of the main reasons why the American experiment in self-government succeeded, because the people already knew how to govern themselves. While I oppose the victim mentality that characterizes too much of liberal thinking, and while survivors of psychiatry may certainly rise above their circumstances and become stronger, it is important to point out that many victims of psychiatry have been killed, maimed, or drugged into a comatose stupor. Others have been, and are being locked up against their will, and labeled with fictitious diseases. It is possible to rise above these circumstances, but it is not easy. Some people may have been passive or docile to begin with, but psychiatry has the power to take the best, the brightest, and the most active, and to reduce them to a vegetable state. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. In other words, psychiatry profits from the victim mentality that is so characteristic of the modern liberalism, but it also produces legitimate victims whose chemical lobotomies, if they don’t kill them, may permanently incapacitate them. Human beings are not by nature helpless victims of oppressive systems. As much as the victim mentality strengthens psychiatry’s hold, psychiatry’s hold also produces real victims.
The strength and virtue of the American colonists was admirable
Today I learned that slavery and genocide are virtuous.
You’ve started reading the Communist Manifesto? At least you learned something from it. Good job.
Why change the subject?
I didn’t. You said that today you learned that slavery and genocide are virtuous, insights which you seem to have gleaned from Marx and Engels.
Thus proving that you know absolutely nothing about anything they wrote. But you’re still changing the subject.
I’ve read the Communist Manifesto. I just don’t think it’s the Bible. And the slavery and genocide that emerged in the century of horror under totalitarian regimes owes a certain debt to Marx. In any case, it’s a gross distortion of revisionist historians to disparage the American colonists with such ludicrous claims as the one that you set forth. But you’re changing the subject of this thread, which I believe had something to do with combatting psychiatry. Your name suggests that you oppose psychiatry, in which case, I agree with you.
Well, these colonists rebelled against England because the English taxed them exorbitantly, and they wanted to live like the English, the English upper classes anyway.
The thing of it is, these colonists were there because Columbus made a mistake. Looking for a good route to China, he ran into Latin America. Now all these people say Columbus discovered America. How can you say Columbus discovered America when it had been there all along. The natives have been here for 10s of 1000s of years before Columbus even arrived.
You want to learn about genocide. Read about the natives. Read about Andrew Jackson and the trail of tears. Read about the so-called Indian Wars that followed the War between the States.
Read about Geronimo, and the Apache resistance to being removed from their traditional hunting grounds, and being put on a reservation.
It’s not like we should give the land back to the Indians. The land was never ours to give.
Frank’s right. Yes, you read that correctly. 😉
Yes, I’m familiar with the bogus arguments of self-loathing revisionist historians. I’m very familiar with liberal self-loathing and hatred of America and everything it stands for. There’s no need to remind me further. But thank you. Of course none of this has anything to do with the battle against coercive psychiatry.
This has everything to do with ending psychiatric oppression.
If you don’t know from what class and social forces an institution (such as Psychiatry) arose from, and whose interests it serves in today’s world, you will have NO WAY of figuring out how to get rid of it.
In today’s world, a narrow agenda of ridding ourselves of a single powerful institution, is a total pipe dream and a dead end effort. The interconnection of various class and economic interests are just too vast and deeply intertwined.
You are stuck in centuries old forms of thinking of battles between “good vs evil” where “evil forces” are some sort of a priori abstraction from material reality. Hence the quite appropriate name, “Slaying the Dragon of Psychiatry.”
The exact opposite is true: such a narrow and myopic view of philosophy, history and politics obscures any clear vision of what psychiatry actually is, and how it will actually be abolished. There are such profound blinders attached to the Marxist lens that people can no longer distinguish between good and evil. Good and evil are not abstractions or some centuries old forms. The truly narrow agenda is the utopian scheming inherent in the attempts to “change the world” without even understanding how such utopian scheming came to be the reigning form of opinion (thanks to people like Machiavelli, Hobbes, Descartes, and much later, Marx, etc.) As long as the focus is on “changing the world” by some sort of proletariat revolution, then psychiatry will continue to flourish, and even worse, if a proletariat revolution is successful, psychiatry will be enforced in new and more dangerous ways. In other words, while the desire to abolish psychiatry is a good, reasonable, and possible end, the means to that end need to be much more carefully considered. In any case, I no longer have time to educate the masses here. There are things called books, and people ought to read them.
Yes, I’m familiar with the bogus arguments of self-loathing revisionist historians. I’m very familiar with liberal self-loathing and hatred of America and everything it stands for.
Nice work, professor. You literally don’t know the difference between liberals and socialists. And I wonder why you call it self-loathing to name slavery and genocide for what they are.
What is the difference between real liberals and modern liberals? Do you understand the connection between socialism and modern liberalism? What is the history of progressivism? Who were some of its major founders and primary thinkers? Do you know where your own ideas come from? Here’s another question. Do you know what genocide means? Do you know why the term “genocide” is anachronistic and wrongly applied to the decline of the native Americans? The Holocaust was an example of genocide. The Armenian genocide is another example. Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge carried out the Cambodian genocide. Then there was Rwanda. These are examples of genocide. It is an affront to the victims of actual genocide to call what happened to the Indians “genocide.” Most Indian casualties were a result of contagious diseases that the Europeans transmitted to the Indians, but the Indians also spread contagious diseases to the Europeans, such as syphilis. The attempt to explain European conquest and victory in the Americas by “genocide” is the result of multicultural and relativist indoctrination, not a reflection of truth or historical analysis, and it is actually a disservice to native Americans themselves. Here’s a good article on the topic, in case it interests you: https://www.firstthings.com/article/1995/11/the-crimes-of-christopher-columbus
Before we make a lot out of Christopher Columbus “discovering” America, it must be remembered that the Scandinavians reached the coast of Canada many years before, and not only that, but that there were people there then, and people that the Scandinavians did business with.
Do a search for genocide on Google, and you will get this definition: the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation.
I hardly think genocide anachronistic nor wrongly applied in the case of native Americans. Attributed to General Philip Sheridan was the saying, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are the dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every 10 are.” Not so long ago we witnessed what was referred to as ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. Same thing.
Not the same thing. You might enjoy the article that I posted as well. In any case… back to antipsychiatry, where we agree. Over and out.
All I can say is you guys sure seem to love pushing each others’ buttons.
Some of these explorers mentioned in your article, too wordy for me, were conquistadors. The point is the west was opened up for exploitation by Columbus and his ilk. Remember Mahatma Gandhi. The same sort of imperialist expansion created the Victorian empire of which India was at one time a part. We were a colony once, and we rebelled. Algeria was colony, and it rebelled. South Africa, Mozambique, etc., etc. I wouldn’t be so down on multiculturalism as I would be on mono-culturalism. Nationalism has always employed the worst of human nature in its service, and American exceptionalism is nothing but a big fat lie.
Perhaps psychiatry is a good thing after all. You are all persuading me in that direction. In a world view where Columbus, the Founders, Lincoln, Churchill, the West, western civilization, the American democratic republic, free markets, the judeo-Christian faith, and probably God Himself are viewed as enemies, I suppose it’s no wonder that people look to Marx as a Savior. While the United States has been a land of unprecedented freedom, prosperity, and opportunity, and a beacon of hope, not only through the American revolution, but through the great world wars, and even to a this day, multiculturalists would have us believe that all societies are equal. Nonsense. Imagine if Great Britain had won the war. Imagine if chattel slavery weren’t abolished. Imagine if Hitler had prevailed. What kind of world would we be living in? This is what is meant by liberal self loathing. Now there are many problems in modern America, including the murder of millions by abortion, the expansion of entitlement culture under a doctrine of limitless “rights,” and the welfare state (and I would include psychiatry among these problems). But many of these evils are the natural outgrowth of the progressive ideologies that actually trace their lineage through Woodrow Wilson and others back to Nazi Germany. In other words, American exceptionalism is the exact opposite of the kind of nationalism that is deserving of blame. Psychiatry and modern progressivism share a common ancestor in Nazi Germany. The history of psychiatry runs parallel to, and in many way corresponds to the history of ideas that has resulted in contemporary liberal ideology. Still, I’m glad that there are many people who consider themselves to be liberals who also wish to combat psychiatry. What this means is that most everyone wishes to be free, even if not everyone knows what freedom really means or where freedom comes from.
A certain Julius Caesar was taken up with the exploits of a certain Alexander the not so Great. And then there was Napoleon. And then there was Hitler. That’s the Western angle. If it weren’t for Judaeo-Christian Greco-Roman hegemony, I could throw in Genghis Khan. This is your might makes rightwing view of the matter.
Still there’s a reason why slavery is getting attention on archeological digs, and in culture these days. Some non-slaves are the descendants of slaves. I don’t think interest in the history of buried asylum inmates though has gotten past the Halloween spook house and the theme park stage yet.
Enjoy, if possible, the couch.
I suppose it’s no wonder that people look to Marx as a Savior.
See, if you had any idea what you were talking about, then you would know that Marx was never a savior, but was someone who provided useful analytical tools for understanding socio-economic systems.
America, including the murder of millions by abortion, the expansion of entitlement culture under a doctrine of limitless “rights,” and the welfare state (and I would include psychiatry among these problems).
Right, so according to you, the “real” problems with the USA are that it is too generous to the poors, that the women have too much bodily autonomy and access to reproductive healthcare, and that someone or other has too many “rights”…. What do you mean with that last bit? I’m really curious.
Frank and Uprising, I suppose that both of you oppose psychiatry. So do I. As for the rest, I can see that it would be even harder to persuade either of you to view things through a different lens than it would be to persuade the average person to understand the truth about psychiatry (and we all know how difficult that can be). Frank, although I obviously disagree with you regarding many political and historical matters, I understand that you have thought through your position, and that you are also passionate about liberty. I agree with you that might does not make right. The great founders of western civilization already understood that and recorded that truth in their works. And Uprising, I seem to have pressed some of your buttons, but I suppose that you too oppose psychiatry. I know that Richard and Frank oppose psychiatry, and for good reason, and I can appreciate that, even though I heartily disagree with both of them in political matters. As far as Marx, of course I know that he wasn’t a savior, even though many people embrace (whether wittingly or not) his ideologies as if he were a savior. The claim that he provided useful analytical tools for understanding socio-economic circumstances is a gross understatement of the profound negative effects of his philosophy, including those genocides that we both abhor. We can learn from Marx, of course, but one of the things that we might learn from him is what not to think. As for the rest of your response, I don’t understand why you support the slaughter of innocent children, government theft through forced redistribution of wealth, and the kind of radical feminism that has harmed so many women. I’m sure that you have your reasons. Your final question is a good one. The answer to your question about rights and can be found in understanding the difference between the rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, as the Founders understood them, and the modern Rawlsian conception of rights.
That’s all for now.
Basically, Dragon Slayer, I think it’s alright to agree to disagree, and I think it’s alright to agree to agree. In fact, I think we need to respect each others differences because we know we aren’t going to change them come what may. We disagree on political issues, sure, we did before going into this matter. If we agree to agree about psychiatry, there you go, that’s something. Anything more would be too much to expect.
Agreed. I do believe that the underlying philosophical and political arguments are important in terms of the consequences of ideas, and in terms of understanding psychiatry and antipsychiatry. But I am happy focus on the truths that we share in our common efforts. In any case, I respect differences of opinion, and welcome debate, especially when it is well informed debate.
After reading the hundreds of words you have used to describe the “evil” of Karl Marx, could you please show me one phrase, sentence, or paragraph where he EVER advocates for anything other than emancipation of all of humanity from all forms of oppression.
His development of dialectical and historical materialism describes a path for humanity to eliminate all forms of class inequalities and related forms of oppression, including war and violence towards other human beings.
It would be one thing for you to be merely describing Karl Marx and his theories as “Utopian” and/or “unrealistic,” but show me where in the actual content of his writings and theories is the “evil” you rant about.
It is now clear to me that you have such a “fixed” and disgustingly low opinion (actually a very worked out theory and analysis) of a very “dismal” nature of the human species, both as to what it is, and what it is capable of achieving in this world.
And since you provide no hard evidence to back up this incredibly limited and pessimistic view of human nature, I can only assume you have a view that the “Devil” is somehow at work here. Is that your explanation for why all of humanity cannot, and should not, move beyond capitalism/imperialism and/or the elimination of classes and class inequalities???
You said: “If we agree to agree about psychiatry…”
Michael Savage (the Right Wing Fascist radio talk show host) is against Psychiatry in many ways, and perhaps even Jeffrey Dahmer might have had some issues with Psychiatry.
But that doesn’t mean I want to sit down and have lunch with either one of them, let alone try to find common ground with their opposition to Psychiatry.
“Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allen Poe.”
~I Am The Walrus, Lennon and McCartney
I remember these discussions among the literati about the poet they’d invite to dinner, and the ones that wouldn’t receive such an invitation. John Keats was the name mentioned the most for the one with the invite. Algernon Swinburne, by more than one, as one who would be passed over. I don’t like pretentious, unfair, loaded, and one sided arguments of this type.
It’s too late for me to have any sort of a conversation with Jeffrey Dahmer, and as for Michael Savage, I don’t expect the matter to come up. I hope you find that a satisfactory answer to such hypothetical suggestions.
There also are Christians who consider capitalism/imperialism to be the embodiment of the devil in a material world. As in “Bung dung Babylon!” (Mutabaruka)
Seeing as we were talking about lunch and dinner engagements, I came upon this blog in which this guy talks about the 3 things his parents taught him not to bring up at the dinner table. Those 3 things were money, politics, and religion. I figure, depending on the company, that pretty good advice.
Your remarks about Savage and Dahmer have almost persuaded me to embrace psychiatry. I’m not sure why you ask me about evil, Richard, since you don’t believe in either good or evil. I have a very high regard for human beings and their great capacity and potential. I also have a realistic view of human nature. Do you really believe that the slaughter of nearly 100 million people under communism was a good thing? You’ve provided absolutely zero hard evidence that Marxism has accomplished anything good, but how could you, if you don’t even believe in good or evil? In any case, if Mad in America continues to be an echo chamber for reform and critical psychiatry on the one hand, and progressive ideologies on the other, it won’t amount to much anyhow.
I keep talking about the need for a specifically antipsychiatry organization, website, the works. So long as that doesn’t exist, these arguments, Dragon Slayer, are taking place where general criticism of psychiatry is the routine, and outright opposition, the periphery. On a comment above I was talking about the subjects of conversation among people at the dinner table. It must be remembered that here at MIA, some of us are the guests, and some of us are the hosts. When political systems come into the discussion, there are going to be disagreements. I think you can respect the fact that people have differences of opinion, and respect those differences. This wholesale condemnation of a differing ideological position won’t take us anywhere, and as we’ve already exhausted the subject, going forward is just going to rattle people a bit more. Remember the cold war? We don’t need another at MIA.
You said: “I’m not sure why you ask me about evil, Richard, since you don’t believe in either good or evil. I have a very high regard for human beings and their great capacity and potential. I also have a realistic view of human nature.”
Please don’t EVER attempt to speak for me. Where is their ANY quote where I have said I don’t believe in human “goodness”? In fact, all of of my blogs and comments here have usually had themes that emphasized the human potential for goodness, including some real life examples for what it might take to achieve this ON EARTH.
I also believe that human being are capable of doing “evil” things. HOWEVER, I do not believe in the a priori existence of “evil” or of the existence of some “Devil” like force in the universe causing “evil” things to carried out by people. There is no scientific evidence to back up the existence of such an “evil” force.
The KEY question in ALL of these discussions is: what material conditions on the planet earth, that is, what forms of human social, economic, and political organization will allow human goodness to flourish AND will (at the same time) suppress and gradually eliminate the desire and/or need for human beings to do harmful and/or “evil” things to other human beings?
So “Slaying the Dragon,” exactly what is this “…REALISTIC VIEW OF HUMAN NATURE…” of yours? Do you care to explain the so-called limitations of human nature that would make a classless society impossible to ever be achieve (over perhaps several hundred years of struggle). OR tell us why human beings should NOT attempt to work towards taking the steps to build such a world.
And “Slaying the Dragon,” I am still waiting for one phrase, sentence, and/or paragraph where Karl Marx advocates for human beings to commit an “evil’ act, or where he EVER advocates for anything other than the ultimate emancipation of all of humanity from ALL forms of human oppression.
Good points Frank, although if you mean by “guests” those who are psychiatric survivors, then there is something wrong with the dinner table already. The specifically antipsychiatry organizations are currently being developed. It ought to be psychiatric survivors who decide whether or not to invite so-called “professionals” to the dinner table. Like I said before, I’m fine with disagreement and differences of opinion. I’m actually open to learning about the reasons for people’s ideological commitments, because unless those are made explicit, there’s no way of coming to a consensus about anything. But it’s useless to pretend that a certain commitment to Marxism, or socialism, or any other “ism” is the be all and end all of antipsychiatry. Such bullying alienates those of us who don’t see the world through those lenses. Richard claims that I have a low opinion of my fellow man, and then almost in the same breath he asks me not to speak for him. Balderdash. I stand up to liberal bullying just like I stand up to psychiatric oppression. When he’s not busy dismissing my arguments as “fascism,” Richard claims that I am “stuck in centuries old forms of thinking of battles between ‘good vs evil’ where ‘evil forces’ are some sort of a priori abstraction from material reality.” What is one to understand from this other than that he rejects the reality that there is an ongoing battle between good and evil? Maybe I misunderstood what Richard meant by this, but I’m still not sure whether he believes in good and evil. He seems to believe in human goodness, but what does that even mean if there is no good or evil? Richard keeps asking me to point out evil doctrines in Marx, but he puts evil in quotation marks so I don’t even know what he means by good or evil. Who can possibly understand what he is talking about? He wants human goodness to flourish, and that is great. So do I. But when I point out the inconvenient fact that Marx’s philosophy promoted a struggle for a classless society that resulted in the wholesale slaughter of nearly 100 million people in the most evil totalitarian regimes, who can help but wonder if that is what he means by human flourishing. According to Richard, the key question is what what forms of human social, economic, and political organization will allow human goodness to flourish. That is a good question, I admit, but what can that question possibly mean if there is no good or evil? I confess that I am confused by Richard’s theories. In any case, if history is any guide, one might consider which regimes have been most conducive to human flourishing. If the blossoming of philosophy and every other form of human excellence in ancient Greece, or the imitation thereof in Rome, or the profound influence of Judeo-Christian ethics on everything from science to art, to music, to literature and more, or the compilation of it all in Medieval times, or the rebirth of it all during the Renaissance, and the questioning of it all during the Enlightenment, and the establishment of a foundation of government based on the consent of the governed and the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that are enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and which fostered a period of unprecedented human flourishing – if all this doesn’t count as human flourishing, then what can human flourishing possibly mean? My realistic view of human nature is that the same kinds of beings that produced the Brandenburg Concertos, the David, the Sistine Chapel ceilings, and the U.S. Constitution have also produced the gas chambers, gulags, nuclear missiles, and psychiatry. In any case, if there is one thing on which we agree, it is that there is something terribly wrong with psychiatry, and that it needs to be abolished. Should we not focus our combined efforts on that?
I don’t see the antipsychiatry movement as synonymous with the psychiatric survivor movement. This creates a problem. Where should who be in this movement is problematic. OldHead talks about the PS (psychiatric survivor) or PI (psychiatric Inmate) or PO (psychiatric outmate) playing a leadership role. Okay. I see mental health professionals as mostly colluding with psychiatry, however Richard is a mental health professional who is against psychiatry. So is Philip Hickey. Bonnie Burstow is an academic, but not a survivor. There are various survivor/professionals here as well who call themselves antipsychiatry. I don’t think these issues are anything that could be easily resolved, and I think we are going to have to work together if we want to get anywhere on them. Anyway, you still have the mental patients’ (user/consumer) (non-liberation) movement that supports psychiatry. That’s the other side of the matter. Career mental patient, and career mental health treatment worker, are still options. The “mental illness” industry has it’s “advocates”, stake holders, promoters, etc. The medicalization business chugs on. I think we need to expose the lot of them for the fraudsters and fakes that they are, and change this situation.
You said: “He seems to believe in human goodness, but what does that even mean if there is no good or evil?”
SDP, there you go again, you just proved my point about abstracting the concepts of “Good” and “evil” from the real world. Your above sentence makes absolutely no logical sense.
These are NOT fixed entities (a priori) sitting in some “pie in the sky” alternate universe. Goodness is something that can be ultimately measured (in the real world) by examining the way human beings treat each other. Do they cooperate among themselves for the common benefit OR do they take advantage of others, exploit others, lord over others, and/or directly harm others?
Then you say: ” But when I point out the inconvenient fact that Marx’s philosophy promoted a struggle for a classless society that resulted in the wholesale slaughter of nearly 100 million people in the most evil totalitarian regimes, who can help but wonder if that is what he means by human flourishing.”
So is this your way of saying that you CANNOT really find any of Marx’s words that actually promotes “evil” towards other humans, so you have now SHIFTED your argument to say that it was the WAY certain humans attempted to CARRY OUT his theories that somehow proves the theories are wrong?
I do not accept some of the inflated statistics of deaths under socialist regimes, but leaving aside those debates, I agree it is definitely clear that mistakes by revolutionaries (over many decades) have led to many people dying. Was this the result of bad theory OR human mistakes PLUS the lack of enough human experience in these first historical attempts at bringing something new into being, AND because of the difficulties caused by external attacks on these emerging revolutions from outside enemies wanting to preserve the dominance of capitalism/imperialism???
Heady questions that demand answers and a deep summation of complex historical events. Far more complex work to be done than your abstracted and simplistic concept of “evil.”
And since you are a devout Christian, I would ask : how many hundreds of millions of people have been killed carrying out the historical spread of Christianity in the name of God. And looking at the Old Testament of the Bible, I can point to passage after passage (with real words) that actually promotes and upholds some of the most vile and degrading forms of violence towards other innocent human beings. Actually the “God” of the Old Testament would easily fit the definition of the “Original Fascist” based on the forms of violence actually carries out and promoted in His words.
Now, I am certainly NOT saying all Christians accept or support these scriptures, and most definitely do not act or promote these forms of human behavior towards others.
But I am pointing out the specific conflict that exists in the world between written words and theories and how they are actually carried out in the real word. And by that standard it is easier for me to point out more problems, contradictions, and hypocrisy with Biblical scriptures and subsequent behavior in the world than you can point out with the words and theories of Karl Marx.
And I must remind you that no one has “bullied” you. You are are the one who always jumps on anyone who even suggests that humanity might move beyond a class divided society. And then you ridicule the theories of Marx and other followers with your philosophical and/or religious abstractions about alleged “evil” words. Allegations that cannot be backed up by citing any actual proof that you gave read and understood Marx’s words.
And finally, it is interesting that all the historical societies that you cite as representing the flourishing of “goodness” were built on a foundation of very distinct class differences and related oppression, AND most importantly, built on a foundation of the institution of slavery.
Excellent points Frank. I am very grateful for anyone who brings their different backgrounds and experiences to the table to expose the truth about psychiatry. Phil Hickey does excellent work. Burstow has also done some excellent work. Breggin and Whitaker have done great work. Szasz did great work. And there are many others. I agree with Oldhead that survivors should play a leadership role, because those with lived experience understand the horrors of psychiatry in a unique way that non-survivors can’t quite grasp. But it is great to work together with others who also oppose psychiatry. I also see “professionals” mostly in collusion with psychiatry. Then there’s the whole problem of so-called critical or reform psychiatry. That’s the problem with MIA, of course, but MIA can do some good in some ways. I’m intrigued by Szasz’s example particularly because although he was not a psychiatric survivor, he understood the truth about psychiatry long before he ever began to publish about it. As a youth he saw through the deceptions, but he waited until he had obtained the necessary credentials to begin to expose the truth about psychiatry. This was a smart move, because unfortunately, in today’s world, people don’t usually listen to what you have to say unless they see some letters next to your name (Ph.D., MD, etc.) He was a “professional” who worked from the inside to expose the truth about his so-called “profession.” That was great! And he gave voice to the very real afflictions of victims of psychiatric torture. The mental patient / consumer movement, on the other hand, has so many inner contradictions I don’t even know where to start with that. Frank, I agree with you 100% that it is the “mental illness” industry and the “medicalization” business that keeps the fraudulent enterprise of psychiatry afloat. The myth of mental illness, the chemical imbalance hoax, the fraudulent soul-doctors, fakes, and hucksters… all of it needs to go. This is what I mean by slaying the dragon of psychiatry.
And thank you Richard for clarifying some of your theories about goodness. If I understand you correctly, Richard, goodness is measured by cooperation between individuals for the common benefit or the common good? Is that correct? In other words, your argument seems to be that goodness is what is good. That’s a puzzle. Then what is good? The obvious follow up question would then be, what is the common good, and who gets to decide what that is? I’m still perplexed by the idea that there is not good and evil, but somehow there is goodness that can be measured. I admit to being confused about that theory. As far as Marx, his words are all there, many of them in the Communist Manifesto, the handbook for some of the greatest atrocities ever known to man. And you’re still trying to get me to point out which words in Marx are evil without explaining how I can describe evil to someone who doesn’t believe in evil. What can it mean that a theory is wrong, if there is no right and wrong. This is where your theories confuse me. Is there good and evil, or not? Is there right and wrong, or not? Or maybe a better question, what is the standard by which one ought to measure what is good or evil, right or wrong? And who gets to decide what that standard is? As far as “mistakes by revolutionaries” … Nearly 100 million dead under communism and approximately 16 million slaughtered under Nazism (and don’t forget the French revolution)… These are “mistakes”? Sounds like some pretty bad mistakes. I wonder what the death toll is for psychiatry now… more mistakes. Whoops. And then you blame the nations who fought to defeat such tyrannies? I’m even more puzzled about what you consider to be good. Furthermore, if an atheist rejects God based on the false notion that religion causes the most violence, then he would also have to reject atheism, which has been the source of so much more of the aforementioned violence. In fact, even the comparatively minimal casualties of the crusades, the inquisition, and so forth (not even close to 100 million… more like 200,000) over many centuries amount to less than 1% of the deaths caused by atheistically driven violence under the totalitarian regimes of despots such as Stalin, Hitler, and Mao, and in the space of only a few decades. If your argument is that the Bible has caused more violence than the Communist Manifesto, then I really need to hand it to you for your creativity. As to your last point, slavery is also evil, and it is not unique to the west. Many civilizations have practiced and still practice slavery. Psychiatric slavery is a modern form of slavery that we ought to abolish, and hopefully it won’t take another Civil War to do so.
It would be great if everyone could follow Richard’s example and make appropriate use of paragraph breaks.
Okay guys. Our movement is already small and fragmented enough. If we insist that everyone espouse Marxism/Capitalism/Anarchism/Feudalism in order to join, good luck on getting anything accomplished!
I agree, FeelinDiscouraged. If new people read an article here and see too many off-topic comments on political views, they’ll get the wrong idea of what we are trying to accomplish, and may be scared off. Focusing our discussions on the anti-psychiatry issues brought up by the articles would help our cause.
What is “our” cause? What is “our” movement? There’s the rub. What are the “antipsychiatry issues”? I wrote an entire article on that very topic, but it was rejected by Mad in America. That is one reason why “the movement” is taking place elsewhere.
If you read what I wrote, Dragon Slayer, the gist of it was that the movement should take place elsewhere. MIA is not, and never was, antipsychiatry. Want to oppose psychiatry? Start your own organization. Throw up your own website. Start your own blog. You can still get your article out there before people, if that’s what you want to do. You don’t need MIA for that.
Yes, I read what you wrote, and I agree. I’ve already got an organization and a blog. Maybe we read MIA to determine who really sees psychiatry for what it is.
Lawrence, nothing is off-topic here although the level of argumentation may be subject to challenge. But psychiatry is a political tool, an “apolitical” discussion would be diversionary.
Well, you can probably start by taking magnesium oxide,250mg. T.I.D., as the medical types say, while you look for a naturopathic or conventional practitioner experienced in dealing with these things. The magnesium salts are available at any drugstore. DON’T let anyone put you on benzos, as you can easily develop panic attacks during withdrawal.
That might do for now. I’ve got to duck back into the bunker before the incoming gets too close.
I should have also mentioned orthomolecular practitioners, the people you really want to see, but they may still have to conceal their methods in some regions, having been subject to persecution in the Pacific Northwest in the 1990’s.
Our cause is to slay the dragon of psychiatry, and the medical model that it ingrained into our culture, before these slay our entire society. Maybe if you modified your article in small ways, it would be published here and could help our movement. Compromise can be an effective tool to achieve goals.
Unless you have spoken with RW or whoever is effectively in charge at MIA, I think it’s presumptuous to assume anything about the reasons the piece was rejected (though if it were me I wouldn’t be so obsessed with it — MIA is going to pursue its editorial “line” regardless of what people think). Sometimes what to one person is a “small” thing to another is the crux of the matter; likewise what to one person is a tactical compromise to others is a total sellout.
Oldhead, Dragon Slayer, and Frank:
I think we have a great team of writers, editors, and commenters here at MIA. Everyone that is contributing here is playing an important role in a website that is strengthening, and seems to be becoming more overtly anti-psychiatry. People read the comments after reading the articles, and can learn just as much or more from them as the article itself. I certainly have. And people have told me that they often appreciate the comments more than the actual articles. But this has to be a team effort to succeed, so we need to keep attracting more members, not lose them. Yes, we all have some disagreements with each other and with the sponsors of this website, but that would happen any place where people are thinking for themselves. What’s important is that this is the one place that just about everybody who wants to at least abolish biological psychiatry, is contributing to. So lets keep working together.
For the record, MIA is official a venue for (primarily) “critical” psychiatry. I don’t know what you mean about “keeping” people, actually I think this is a concern which overly dominates MIA’s policies and lines. Putting out truth to the people is what ultimately attracts readers, not keeping one eye on others’ reactions. This will result in some leaving in a huff, but those who return will have a stronger understanding than ever. I do agree that the comments are often more in depth and of more lasting significance than the articles themselves. (Btw, people recognize my moniker, and I have never written a formal article for MIA. nor felt the need to.)
Working as a team would be great. I look forward to the time when Mad in America will do that. As for my article, to modify it would be to modify it out of existence. Compromise is not a one-sided thing. If Mad in America wants to make compromises in order to let the voices of those who are truly antipsychiatry be heard, that would be great. But I’m not holding my breath.
I agree it used to be a political tool and still is to some degree, but I think now the overwhelming focus of psychiatry and all its many beneficiaries, is to make gobs of money by suckering people into becoming lifelong dependent customers, by any means possible. They are the same as street drug dealers, except that it’s legal and doctors can sweeten the pot with victim status rewards like SSDI. You wouldn’t say street drug dealing is a political tool, would you?
Heroin and crack were put on the streets by the CIA and other government forces for years, and probably still are, this is well documented.
Pharmaceutical dollars are a side benefit in my view; even without them psychiatry would continue to be a genocide of the mind, convincing people that their pained reactions to a dehumanizing system are individual flaws as opposed to a collective matter.
thank you bcharris and dr kelmenson….so I don’t have a mental illness…I should not see a psychiatrist….I should take magnesium…and my panic attacks are just something normal…how about cognitive behavioral therapy…I am in the trenches and am trying to understand what you all are talking about…I would like to know exactly what is causing my problem…and what I should tell my loved ones..
A support system is a must Littleturtle. One apart from the MI System. You may be forced or even choose to attend a “mental wellness” center. A good escape plan is essential.
Do volunteer work in the community. I volunteered 4-8 hours a week in Portland (Indiana!) I did it on my own but refused to do the organized kind put together by the center since it caused the people to treat us like morons or children.
Maybe joining Emotions Anonymous. Actually much of what passes for mental illness are emotional addictions. (Bad habits really hard to break.)
If you are religious attend any extra functions your church or synagogue offers. Maybe talk to your clergy or church counselor.
Use meet up to find clubs of people with shared hobbies or interests nearby.
On your own you can do some reading and journaling or dilettante art for emotional release. On Feeling Good by David Burns helped me. While Burns does not openly question the bio-model he obviously prefers talking to pills in most cases. Because it’s a book, not an emotionally abusive “therapist” you can always put it down if you don’t find the recommended techniques helpful.
Above all eat right, drink enough water, keep regular bedtime hours, and get enough exercise!
Turtle. Your panic attacks are probably not of psychic origin. I was suggesting the magnesium salts to see if it were to keep you from getting any more anxious while seeking more competent assistance, than me. If we were face to face, I’d ask you assorted questions that would seem strange in a psychiatric interview, such as whether you’re frequently bothered by cramps (another sign of low Mg levels), since being pretty much unable to send samples to a lab, I’d have to make guarded inferences about what might be true, so I’d know what to deal with, particularly since Mg levels aren’t readily determined with the present lab tests.
Littleturtle,maybe try bcharris’s advice too. Cover all the bases.
thanks feelindiscouraged….many good ideas
You’ve heard of snake oil, right? I hear that’s good too.
If snake oil is administered by a charismatic salesman who puts on the right show it should have a great placebo effect. 😉
Exactly, only one percent of the magnesium in our bodies shows up in blood tests. It’s hard to pinpoint.
Some of us in ΝΥΞ take issue with the idea of “symptoms” as learned behaviors/coping mechanisms, and applying this to all experiences of extreme states (so-called “mental illnesses”).
Cognitive distortions, dissociation and emotional dysregulation, all of which we (the authors of this comment) experience, are not learned behaviors.
They are responses to our environment based on our own individual neurotype.
With the exception of dissociation, how would cognitive distortions and emotional dysregulation “work” for us?
Those two are things we have had to cope *with*.
And thanks to our own “brain-weird” we are able to use dissociation as a safeguard against psychosis.
Our multiplicity has liberated us. It has been a strength and a gift without which we would not be where we are today:
I want to address a problem with this entire conversation happening in the comments; not just the article.
We’re all asking “does ‘mental illness’ exist?”, but has anyone decided what we mean by “exist”?
Take numbers for example.
Numbers don’t exist objectively on their own. They’re not tangible “real” things that exist like rain and nails. Instead, they’re useful illusions that help us make sense of the world around us.
Mental illnesses “exist” in the same way numbers, dreams and ideas exist.
They’re concepts. They are artificial constructs we make in our head to describe other things that go on in our head.
That’s about it.
They “exist”; just in a different way.
The problem begins when society starts treating “mental illnesses” as though they are objectively real; “an illness like any other”.
They aren’t disease entities.
They’re just a bunch of things that happen in our head that can sometimes make life difficult.
I don’t want to get into it here, but where it REALLY gets problematic isn’t when they treat certain neurodivergences as “illnesses”; it gets REALLY bad when docs and laypeople start treating “mental illnesses” with the same seriousness and gravity as though they were Mortal Sins.
I feel that you, Dr. Kelmenson, mean no disrespect to anyone; genuinely, I do. However, were I a more sensitive reader, I would hear your words as a slight bit condescending.
“Psychiatry” has told us (my sisters and I) nothing.
When they’ve tried to, we’ve laughed at it.
As Seri said, we are not fools.
All my sisters and I have come to believe about ourselves we constructed from our own lived/learned experiences, borrowing here and there from studies, theories, conceptual models, the shared experiences of others and many such things.
“Psychiatry” cannot tell us anything.
Only people can.
People are flawed, imperfect and limited; but when they have letters after their names they are treated as infallible.
To put it playfully:
“We didn’t buy their product; it fell off the truck.”
My sisters and I have found psychiatry to be useful for our purposes.
It’s importance ends there.
For us it is a means to an end.
We are not ill, we are not sick.
We have the brain we have, and we will have no other.
If we want to live in this world, it will be in this body, with this brain.
That is our choice.
This means we welcome and accept all the difficulties and such what come with having a brain such as ours.
Thank you for your constructive feedback. I am sorry that I came across as condescending. My approach is actually “to each his/her own”. I wanted to point out that the terms “distortion”, “dysregulation”, and “dissociation” all include the “dis” prefix which means “bad”, which conveys that they are mere value judgments. I believe these terms evolved in order to get people to view such ways of living, reacting, or coping as “bad” because they’re bad for society’s efficiency, not necessarily for the individual. They imply that there is only one “right” way to express moods and to perceive the world around us, when in truth there are infinite ways, but only certain ways are conducive to society’s survival. So why couldn’t people learn/develop certain habitual ways of dealing with their feelings and experiencing the world that they found to work for them, even though they don’t work for society? Why assume it is pre-fated by “neurotype”? When we only learn the language of the country that raises us as opposed to the hundreds of other languages we have the capability to learn, was that pre-fated by “neurotype”?
“I wanted to point out that the terms “distortion”, “dysregulation”, and “dissociation” all include the “dis” prefix which means “bad”, which conveys that they are mere value judgments.”
The dis- prefix does not mean “bad”. In the English language the dis- prefix commonly means
“apart,” “asunder,” “away,” “utterly,” or having a privative, negative, or reversing force.
Nothing whatsoever related to a value judgement.
I think you are confusing the prefix dis- with the slang verb “diss”. An easy mistake to make for someone new to the field of language.
PS Dysregulation does not have a dis- prefix. It has a dys- prefix. While they are homophones, they are not the same. In fact the dys- prefix is the only one of the three examples you gave of meaning “bad”.
Additionally, in the word “distortion”, I’m pretty sure that the “dis” is not acting as a prefix.
If I was to say (and I shudder to think of myself ever using the word in such a way) but, for argument’s sake, if I described my mood as dysregulated, it would mean that my mood was badly regulated, that it was up and down, but in ways that were self-defeating. That wouldn’t be a value judgement either. It would be an attempt to use a word to describe a mood. The only problem I have with using single words for describing moods, is that they strip away all the context and say nothing much about subjective states. Another handy shorthand, and nothing more.
we do not know that much about the brain and mind…we just don’t know enough…
and most people are under a lot of stress and want a pill for everything…
brains are inflamed and people don’t feel good…they will get a pill or a drug or anything to get relief..
you will have to get rid of a lot more than psychiatry….you will have to fix the way people are living..
“If Mental Illnesses aren’t real, what are they?”
They are what they always were. Unknowns.
Of course as the good doctor understands, the original unknowns have broadened into known territory. The mistake the good doctor then makes is to forget about the original unknowns and depict the whole mess as known territory.
This must be I assume because the good doctor is making his dollar from this mess but
The good doctor is missing the point, the fundamental point, of his own question.
Ah well. Reel em in, as they say.
~~Mental Illness~~ stops existing the minute those accuse of having it, starting organizing and standing up for themselves.
It helped when I quit believing I had a “mental illness.”
“If I cope by engaging in music-listening or any activity to the exclusion of working or interacting with others, then I’ll be viewed as suffering from anxiety, schizophrenia, addiction, depression or OCD.” No, actually those of us who do cope by engaging in music listening and interacting with others are also defamed by psychiatrists, I do have proof of exactly this in my medical records.
But I do somewhat agree, “Psychiatry’s main role now is thus to stop more and more able-bodied people from contributing to society, and to offer them society’s benefits that are contingent upon their not contributing. Psychiatry has mutated from feared enforcer to parasitic saboteur of the social contract on a huge scale — so it’s now an outlier that’s threatening society’s survival, and thus must be banished.”
I very literally was told to “quit all activities and concentrate on the meds,” bad advise I did not follow.
I will point out that psychiatry’s actual primary function today is profiteering off of covering up child abuse, according to their own medical literature, and my family’s medical records. And this is not beneficial to society at large. To the contrary, society is now controlled by satanic pedophiles.
Absolutely you are correct, psychiatry must be banished, their pedophile protection and empowerment profiteering is destroying Western civilization.
Listening to music.
But do you do anything to cause a problem for the Mental Health – Recovery Industry.
Or to put it another way, are you a Man Of Action?
Have you read “The Yellow Wall-Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman? It’s not just a commentary on the lack of women’s rights in the 19th century, but a critique of psychiatric crazy making in treating the “mad.” If you’re not crazy when you start the treatment don’t worry. Keep at it long enough and you’ll realize your shrink was right after all—you ARE loonier than Minnesota in the spring! 😀
Ok. Mental illness does not exist. What is going on with a woman hearing voices telling her to kill herself or others and certain she is the queen of England and has computer chips in her body?
She has no history of trauma, was not living in poverty, was not oppressed. She just woke up one day feeling really sick and terrified by what was happening to her.
What is this then and how should it be handled?
good question…we will wait a long time for an answer to this problem….
As I explained in the article, people have free will to make their own choices about how to deal with life’s struggles. This woman has chosen a path which may not work for you or me, but it must work for her in some way or else she would not be pursuing it. For example, imagining that she is queen of England probably makes her feel very good about herself, very powerful/important, and loved and admired by everyone. Although there are also many drugs/medications/physical illnesses that could cause people to have experiences like this.
What?? “Pursuing this path”? This is not being done willfully or for entertainment or as a “coping” mechanism.
She had minimal life struggles- just 55 years of regular, happy living.
She knows she is ill and has moments of lucidity. She does not feel “good” about anything. She feels like she has lost her mind and normalcy and is tormented and suicidal.
So when drugs given for a non-psych reason or drug withdrawal have created this mental state, then what??
As Peter Gotszche has said, psychiatric drugs do CREATE chemical imbalances, change the way a normal brain functions. Then what?
If you’ve ever heard of “spontaneous recovery”? Her’s sounds like an instance of “spontaneous sickness”, in which case I’m not sure what to do, maybe hold your nose and hope for the best.
1. I think there is a significance to her nonsense, that is to say, “a method to her madness”, and that is something that might be looked into. What am I saying? (She is trying to tell us something.) Her anxieties and fears have something to do with her social situation, her “real” life, and that we would need to look into.
2. I wouldn’t seriously question whether there wasn’t something in this woman’s past, such as unstated “trauma”, that might have something to do with her present “distress”.
I’m not one who would encourage giving her neurotoxins, but then I’m not a “medical doctor” either, however, if you knew anybody who could protect her from being given neurotoxins, that might be a good thing.
Of course, I’d want to ascertain that we weren’t dealing with a physical (i.e. neurological, in this instance) condition first.
You don’t believe in free will? As I said in my article, nobody is controlling her, so she must be in control of herself. We wrongly assume that no one would ever choose “ill” coping tools, so they must be involuntary events, but with free will, there are infinite choices possible. Getting people to not believe they have free will, and to thus not exercise it, is psychiatry’s goal. That’s what leads people to avoid taking responsibility for their own choices, behaviors and issues, and instead come to psychiatrists to put their lives in their hands, which is why people get “sicker” as a result of “treatment”.
Yes, there is free will. And it seems quite obvious to anyone feeling mentally well or “normal”.
But, let’s say a soldier takes Lariam to protect against malaria and develops the “side effects” listed as “rare”. Suddenly, he is having unwelcome, bizarre thoughts, hallucinating, feeling agitated, and homicidal or suicidal. His brain feels like it is on fire.
He has been made Sick. It wasn’t a choice or a coping mechanism and he can’t “choose” to stop the symptoms or “will them” away. He has become “spontaneously sick”. It isn’t an issues or problems kind of thing. And, stopping the drugs does not result in a return to normal.
This is not a “free will” kind of situation.
There is nothing “spontaneous” about so-called PTSD in military veterans. War is a pretty pressurized business, and some people crack under that pressure.
Also, a war is a “traumatic” “traumatizing” experience.
I think that pretty much covers the T and the S of so-called PTSD.
Free will is involved. Not everybody who engages in combat gets the PTSD label. PTSD labels the way some people have had of reacting and responding to their military experience.
You’re talking about a drug reaction here. That happens, too. Hence had he not taken Lariam, no adverse effects from the drug, but he would be unprotected from Malaria.
There is nothing “spontaneous” about adverse drug reactions. No drug, no adverse effect.
Free will is involved here, too, in his necessity to deal with the adverse effects of the drug he took. I realize it can get people locked up, and that is a social problem, sans free choice, and why we have human rights concerns in the first place, not that justice is very prevalent. The struggle remains.
Lawrence, I believe it takes time for people to learn “free will”. I still feel that by saying we have free will, is in a way blaming people. If a person is raised in a great environment, and one raised in chaos, their choices will be uniquely different. And the outcomes of those choices are often not seen until much later in life. I have a very difficult time with the strict belief of free will, or choice, and I have seen many people say that about those who come from lower socio economic backgrounds. And who educates people on the fact they have free will? The ones that make or made better choices? I think if a family is health conscious, often their kids are much more aware, they might not immediately choose it, but it was early exposure, so no bad habits to unlearn. Environment, role modeling certainly play a huge part.
One more point about the woman who imagined that she was a queen. Did you ever notice that people never seem to imagine boring scenarios, such as being a clerk at the motor vehicle bureau? This supports the premise that these “delusions” are voluntary ways of adapting to a disappointing experience within society, by creating a better reality.
Sometimes people imagine themselves to be a messiah. But if we believe in messiahs then one person should have the same right as another to be that messiah.
A friend of mine believed himself to be Jesus Christ but this friend “saved” a lot of people so in a way he was right.
Young children have the best imaginations. I wonder if psychiatry will make this its next “newly discovered brain disease”, and thereby give parents even more excuses to tranquilize their kids.
Psychiatrists seem to have a pronounced Messianic Complex.
You poor soul. I, the Great Physician, will redeem you–showing you the way, the truth, and the life. Sanity according to me!
She is suffering from social marginalization. The things she says are at some level true.
Her social marginalization may have started decades ago.
The remedy is always political consciousness raising and political activism. Once people know that their efforts are needed, they can become very effective.
The answer to your question of what is “this”: this is “madness”.
“Madness” is the generic concept in philosophy to study a class of human and social phenomena that challenge rationality and common sense.
Our problem with psychiatry is that it describes madness (= exaggeration of one’s usual character, amplification of one’s grey zones that are kept below the surface in normal people), nevrotic behaviors (obsessions, phobia…) and abnormal states of mind (depressive, anxious, psychotic) as forms of “mental illness”. Such concept is fatally flawed, deceiving, and dangerous, being used as a sociomoral sleight of hand to remove misfits from society on the ideological grounds that they are “ill”.
While antipsychiatry sacralizes madness, psychiatry trivializes it. For AP, madness is an integral part of human nature that should be celebrated in a positive, creative, passionate, intelligent way. For biopsychiatry, madness is an illness like any other; still a very mysterious one indeed, but psychiatists are going to understand it sooner or later. Traditionally, psychiatry has interpreted madness as an illness like any other, whereas antipsychiatry has interpreted it following an existential/phenomenological approach, viewing it as an understandable reaction to insane/untenable social relationships.
This person feels “mad” in the most terrifying and suicidal way. There is nothing
Brilliant, creative, or positive to be celebrated in feeling completely unlike her usual self, pounded by waves of agitation and weirdness. This isn’t some enjoyable hypomanic state. It is crushing panic, inability to function, all drug and stress injury induced.
ok…lets talk some about what might help those persons suffering with anxiety and depression..
we have been talking about what words not to use…and down with drugs…and down with psychiatry..and down with biology….is there any help with dietary interventions using TRYPTOPHAN..maybe the serotonin neurotransmitter system is important for our happiness…what do you all think about this biology talk…are there any WORDS here that you don’t like…please tell me…
I have found mindfulness-based meditation very helpful. Also talking about traumatic experiences to someone who cared. I had a great therapist for a while back in the 80s who actually LISTENED to me and asked good questions and helped me sort out what had happened to me and what it meant. I have read a LOT of self-help books and tried to apply them.
I have also done work to help other people, including advocacy work to try and change the system. It required me to face my own fears, because I was working for someone else rather than just myself, and I was willing to do for them what I was afraid to do for me.
Those are just some things that worked for me. The biggest problem with psychiatry isn’t the drugs, it’s lumping everyone who feels similarly into the same group and expecting the same thing will work for all of them. Everyone is different, and different things work for different people.
All people “suffer from” painful feelings like anxiety and sadness. As Darwin showed, this made us more fit to survive and procreate. There are infinite ways to cope with them, none of which can permanently get rid of them except complete zombification, such as by frontal lobotomy. What psychiatry has done is to trick people into thinking they are “sick” for having such feelings, and to lure and reward them for developing a “helplessly sick” identity, by offering many valuable “illness victim” rewards. Psychiatry’s business formula has been so successful, that being “mentally ill” can often be very adaptive for people. This explains why many people, despite being quite capable of changing, don’t try to change even though they claim that they want to.
dr kelmenson——-you seem to like the word sadness rather than depression…if you have ever been disabled from a mood problem yourself you wouldn’t be using the word sad…
I too use the word sad when others would say that I’m talking about my depression. For me the word depression is associated with the medical model, which is totally deficit based and does not point out strengths and abilities. So, the word sad doesn’t carry the same negative context for me when I use it to apply to what I’m feeling, when others would use depression.
Depression is only an extreme form of sadness. I have found referring to my “depression” as sadness empowering. Words have more power than we realize. My blue moods are much milder and never last more than 24 hours–usually less.
The idea that “depression” is somehow a unique and different state than feeling sad/hopeless/despondent is a myth. There is no evidence that one can make such a distinction based on how bad someone feels or how long it lasts, as the DSM pretends we can. I suffered for a long time from chronic anxiety and depression, including suicidal thoughts and feelings. A psychiatrist would have certainly diagnosed me with a depressive disorder. I don’t feel that way any more. I like myself, I like my life, and I am very comfortable interacting with people I don’t know at all. How did that happen if my brain was not functioning properly and it was genetic and out of my control?
There are almost certainly people who are feeling depressed for biological reasons alone. If that’s the case, those reasons should be found and addressed. But to suggest that somehow we can distinguish these cases of “biological depression” from a list of “symptoms” that are created by committees is ludicrous. I would submit that MOST depressed people got that way because of how they were treated by other people. Pretending there is a biological explanation prevents us from actually looking at the psychological/spiritual causes that underlie most “depression,” hence the desire of many of us here to use a different term that reminds us that there is no special “depression” that can be “diagnosed,” but rather than sadness and despair, even the most extreme forms, are part of the human condition and require a human response.
I use the word melancholy to describe sadness. I’ve never been disabled on account of melancholy; and my melancholy has mostly disappeared, as I’ve grown older.
Frank, I really appreciate your thoughtful responses. I should, not, however, have used the example of a “soldier” bc it connects to PTSD.
If a regular housewife going to a malaria infested country and has this reaction to Lariam (events like this have been documented), there is obviously a physiological or neurological injury at play. This is a case of “spontaneously sick”.
Like children given SSRIs for test anxiety that suddenly have psychosis or suicidal thoughts- this is drug induced….
It’s not “spontaneous” if it’s a drug effect. It is iatrogenic, that is, physician caused. Had the physician not prescribed the drug, no neurological damage, no adverse effect.
As she wouldn’t want to have malaria, this must be an awfully tricky subject, and hopefully she was fully informed before she consented to take the drug. It is obviously a potentially dangerous drug. Still, if there were other drugs, any other method of dealing with the problem (malaria), they should have been considered.
Yes, you are correct. What I am referring to is “iatrogenic”, physician caused through drug injury.
When these iatrogenic “effects” including hallucinations, delusions, abnormal thoughts, psychosis, agitation, depression develop after ingesting drugs and remain, is the person suffering from “mental illness” caused by neurological damage? Is this not “real”?
Drug-induced psychosis used to be considered a type of “organic brain syndrome”, to differentiate it from “functional” or “mental illnesses”. In recent years though, psychiatry has wanted to fool the public into thinking “mental illnesses” are a type of physical illness, so it eliminated the organic brain syndrome category. But it still applies; drug-induced effects are true, organically-caused symptoms, not habitually learned coping styles.
Thank-you for clarifying that.
What can be done for individuals suffering from organic brain syndromes caused by toxic drugs or withdrawal from toxic drugs?
Are they doomed for life?
Thank you for your article and your responses.
Psychiatry is an evil, bloated, dangerous toad, peopled by some of the most dangerous, ignorant, arrogant, and evil individuals to walk the earth. It is worse than cancer and its victims are increasing daily. “Doctors” who drug children with neurotoxins and “treat” vulnerable populations with poisons and shock need to be put on trial and sent to prison…
Truth, the only thing I can possibly think of for people who had a switch flipped is to totally change the environment. To go on an extended hiking/portaging canoe trip, vacation in Africa or anywhere, optimal normal diet, get their thyroid checked, their vitamin and minerals. Away from any challenging stress but something that tries to get the brain to notice and interact with their new surroundings.
Stephen Gilbert and Fiachra:
Yes, the acceptance of psychiatric lingo by our society has had a powerful/disastrous effect on our society, though lucrative for psychiatry. Before sadness became a disabling medical disease known as “clinical depression”, people would resourcefully recover from whatever major loss or event caused them to feel sad. But now they often don’t, since that’s the doctor’s job, and the doctor doesn’t really want you to recover. So it’s partly just using words like “depression” instead of “sadness” that leads to people becoming “disabled”.
Speaking of “lingo,” let’s not forget the term “psychosis.”
“Depression Delusion” by Dr Terry Lynch is one of the best critical books written on “Depression”.
Another brilliant analysis! Psychiatry is destroying individuals, and is systematically undermining our cultural resilience.
It undermined my personal resilience as well. That comes from having “good insight.”
The contents of this article makes sense.
My own preferred perspective is to see “mental illness” as a social construct whose utility is to “explain” disturbing behaviors for which causes are ignored.
When physical, biological, psychological, social or spiritual causes are unknown (intentionally or not), we resort on the idea of “mental illness”. Such idea has the same sociomoral purpose as witchcraft in religious times. Explaining abnormal/strange/disturbing behaviors by “mental illness” is analogous to explaining meteorological woes by “Aeolus”.
Labeling someone as mentally ill has the effect of ontological/experiential nullification. It’s a way to manage the fear and anguish originating from the realization that other fellow humans are all a reflection of our own mad/sinful nature.
As regards the fact that mental illnesses are not real illnesses because no biomarkers were found, well I consider this an indirect verification of the myth of mental illness, in the way Szasz explained it. The problem with “it” is essentially a linguistic/logic one. I have two ways to formulate the problem:
1. There is no such thing as “mental illness” except by metaphor; we can no more have a “mental illness” than we can have a “salty light”, a “jealous courtyard”, a “depressed pair of pants” or a “sexually transmitted career”. Those are linguistic category mistakes, which could be demonstrated by set theory, lexical combinatory, or simple Porphyrian trees.
2. The concept of mental illness is self-contradictory in the context of a positivist medical science abiding with a Virchowian standard of disease. Again, we could analyze the validity of this statement with the tools of philosophy of language.
I guess we need some bit of epistemology, or theory of knowledge, to understand why “science” could nevertheless appear to find some confirmation for phenomena loosely defined as “mental illnesses/diseases/disorders/conditions”.
Wow. I like how you think. 🙂 E.F. Torrey, before he went over to the dark side, used the notion of a “purple idea” as an example of the incongruence of “mental health” language.
Do you have any thoughts on the best way(s) to delegitimize the psychiatric narrative in the public mind, strategically or otherwise?
Comment removed for moderation
I will email you forthwith, if I do indeed have it correct. Sorry for the interruption in our communication, it was indeed a tired time…
There are Facebook groups out there but I consider using Facebook to be insane, especially for us, as it’s primarily a tracking/surveillance site that data banks your personal info & god knows what else. But there are some new developments you should be interested in. (And you even have a copy of The Death of Psychiatry by Torrey, cool. I just hate to spend the money.)
I received your e-mail.
Just to complete here, I don’t have a paper copy of the book. I “cheated” by using Google Books to get the precise and complete reference for this remarkable quote. It just happened that I made use of this nugget in my personal AP writings.
I agree, it is quite remarkable, and people should point it out more often.
ReprisOwl says… “Cheryl Prax is corrupt.” Strong words. What’s happened?
Auntie, I’m glad that you pay attention to words. I will e-mail you about it. Thanks for caring.
Someone could conceivably have a “purple idea” if, for instance, they suffered from synaesthesia.
I know an AP adept who is a synesthete, too. But it is irrelevant.
“Purple idea” is a metaphor. “Mental illness” also. The problem is that psychiatrists make a litteral use of this figure of speech. As Ron Leifer explained, “The basic problem with the medical model is that people take it literally rather than understanding it as the metaphor it is.”
Metaphor is a central figure in poetry. It basically consists in comparing things by changing without prior warning the ordinary meaning of words. Poetry and science use diametrically opposed types of language. Thus, using the metaphor of mental illness in a scientific context is awkward.
You know, mad people typically use a poetic/symbolic/religious parlance, which is filled with metaphors. The irony is, they are being diagnosed by failed scientists and failed poets. The psychiatrized are often failed artists themselves, although the maddest ones might well be some of the rational and curious human minds, two essential qualities of the scientific worker. Well, like the French existentialist psychiatrist Eugène Minkowski (of Polish origin) remarkably said (translated):
“The mad are not out of their minds as often as we think, perhaps even they are never out of their minds.”
I was just thinking that. I do, indeed, have purple ideas.
Yes, I agree that the “mental illness” label is a way to manage our fear of our own mad/sinful nature. But it does much more than “explain” disturbing behaviors – It also enables society to subdue those who outwardly express aspects of our nature that are harmful to society’s survival. Thus, Dr. Moniz received the Nobel Prize for scientifically developing a way to destroy people’s emotions/drives/free will without killing them, thereby enabling troublemakers to be turned into docile zombies (as in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”), whereas the mythical Dr. Frankenstein, despite successfully using science to bring dead people back to life, is branded a “mad” scientist, since it resulted in man’s inner wild/aggressive nature to be unleashed upon, and thus to endanger, society. I don’t think social constructs evolve unless they enhance the survivability or efficiency of the society in some way.
I agree that the notion is something like a “meme” (cf. Richard Dawkins) that has proven useful for social regulation. The theory of the levels of organization, as well as cybernetics, could give excellent insights into the functional role of this notion in terms of survival of human groups.
By the way, I appreciated much your article about how psychiatry evolved into a religion. I quoted a whole paragraph from it. Thank you!
I used to read and watch quite a bit of Richard Dawkins several years ago. I am quite familiar with his works, and also with the movement that has sprung partly from his works (Skeptics, Atheists….). It’s all a bit rotten now. Same old stuff. Evolution, atheism, yada yada….It was all very appealing to me in my late teens and early 20s.
I think you will find the most fervent supporters of psychiatry amongst Richard Dawkins’ followers (from what I’ve heard).
Several of them see criticism of psychiatry in the same vein as belief in astrology or the tooth fairy or Dawkins’ other favourite hypothetical creature, the “Flying Spaghetti Monster”.
Thanks for your input.
I mentioned the name of Dawkins only to help refer more specifically to the concept of “meme” as originally defined by him. People can learn about it on Wikipedia.
Now, more to the point, Dawkins is a missionary of science, while psychiatry is a paramount pseudoscience. I think the “fervent supporters” you’ve heard about don’t understand the difference.
I think “science” is one of the most truth-obfuscating words of our life times. Just like all DSM labels.
There are many definitions of “science”. I usually retain three levels of scientificity, as well as a distinction between science as: 1) acquired knowledge; 2) research method; 3) social institution; 4) expert opinion.
My preferred definition of science is “rational study”. In this sense, psychiatry must be combatted with real science, good holistic medicine, and non-coercive psychotherapies and counselling.
Below is a relevant excerpt:
* * *
Dawkins was “fed up” with those intellectuals who argued that science alone could not answer ultimate questions about existence. “They think science is too arrogant and that there are certain questions that science has no business to ask, that traditionally have been of interest to religious people. As though *they* had any answers. It’s one thing to say it’s very difficult to know how the universe began, what initiated the big bang, what consciousness is. But if science has difficulty explaining someting, there sure as hell is no one else who is going to explain it.” Dawkins quoted, with great gusto, a remark by the great British biologist Peter Medawar that some people “ ‘enjoy wallowing in a nonthreatening squalor of incomprehension.’ I want to understand,” Dawkins added fiercely, “and understanding means to me scientific understanding.”
(John Horgan, “The End of Science”, Little, Brown and Company, London, 1997, p. 119.)
Yes, I am familiar of such quotes etc. But all this intellectualism is just something for people with a thinking bent of mind to mentally masturbate over.
While it’s okay for people like Dawkins who are flying around giving speeches and being rockstars in the intellectual world; from being an admirer, I have grown weary of that internet and literary intellectual nonsense.
The scientific status of psychiatry is a pseudo-problem. It is the first step where psychiatry and anti-psychiatry proponents clash and the argument does not go beyond that, and it just leads to a bunch of quotations of words or journal papers and then some literary jibes.
Observing the trajectory of a planet is different than creating chemicals in a lab. Performing a surgery is different than writing code to accomplish a specific task. Investigating a murder is different than farming crops.
These are all different tasks, have different people with different technological and social infrastructures, and different methods of investigation (with some similarities) in order to find out the truth about a specific inquiry. Putting it all under the rubric of “science” and then arguing about whether it is a science or not is a waste of time. Truth is what matters.
The pertinent questions are regarding what the truth about psychiatry is, the everyday occurrences in the field, what its political, social, medical and legal implications are, how it is misused, and not just “science”.
Behind psychiatry there is a legal system, a prison system, and social systems of everyday life.
Richard Dawkins is not a good poster child for scientific humility.
I happened to finish writing elsewhere that there is nothing more political than the subject of psychiatry. I’m also well aware of the judicial and economical aspects of the problem. But if we enter into these considerations, we are going off-topic.
All I meant to say is that science is an essential component for our revolutionary endeavor. We don’t need “god”, “angels”, or other unprovable Santa Claus theories to defeat Behemoth. The Occam’s razor is all it takes to slay the monster of psychiatry, plus the shield of dialectical magic.
a serious mistake is being made with the anti-psychiatry talk here…
it sounds more than anti-psychiatry…it sounds like anti-biology…
and that is a very serious error…the cause model should be bio/psych/soc…
reality will come back to bite you..
“Mental illnesses” often result from trauma, as this website addresses. Luckily there are more and more therapies that can help people overcome trauma: https://www.optimallivingdynamics.com/blog/how-to-overcome-emotional-trauma-without-medication-ptsd
Arguably, most mental disorders are an issue of toxins plus stress. When you cannot perceive reality correctly due to a short-term toxic reaction (including drugs and toxic chemicals) you are left with an unexplainable and traumatic experience which you cannot place. Barring drugs, being traumatized with gaslighting can be devastating but it’s less effective. Having such experiences repeatedly leaves you with more and more you cannot explain. Your mind will reach for anything that makes sense, and then you are left looking crazy. Sadly, this is a desired effect sometimes for criminals and domestic abusers. We ruled out genetic cause for mental disorders in the 1940’s at the Nuremberg Trials.
I have a great idea, let’s abandon these skinny little threads and start fresh.
OldHead talks about the PS (psychiatric survivor) or PI (psychiatric Inmate) or PO (psychiatric outmate) playing a leadership role.
More specifically that would be anti-psychiatry survivors/inmates/outmates — but this does not preclude professionals, “allies,” etc. forming their own organizations; nor does it preclude the possibility of a coalition between AP survivor projects and those primarily composed of others. No matter what we need our own self-determining voice, as there are basic differences between those who have experienced psychiatric oppression and those who have come to anti-psychiatry via other roads, and will never be able to speak for us rather than in solidarity with us.
On another note, this thread is pretty disturbing. Lately it’s primarily been unnecessarily intolerant “leftists” I’ve taken issue with. However Dragon Slayer also seems to be going off the deep end with his attempts to deny the genocide of indigenous people, as well as hurling pretty insulting remarks directed at socialists and Marxists (and women). On the other hand Richard says There is no scientific evidence to back up the existence of such an “evil” force. This also falls short of a convincing statement, as there is never “scientific” proof for non-physical phenomena, nor should science be our god. Still we don’t need to scrap one set of myths for another.
Again it seems that people are looking for points of division rather than unity, and this too often degenerates into puerile personal nastiness. I don’t know the solution.
Oldhead, I agree, but when have changes ever been accomplished without disagreements? Although I agree that it is imperative to strive for unity. And I really don’t need more myths, or presumptions. It is fine to wonder at the weirdness and differences within us and them, but trying to recognize that sometimes indeed we cross over to the other side, one of those oops moments. I do however reserve for myself the option to label psychiatry as cookoo, and of course the people in power who adopt it’s voodoo, including cops, GP’s and lawyers, teachers, in fact anyone that has a position where their observations matter within the observed. Nonetheless, you should hear shrinks argue as they sit and try create more labels.
I think I’ll spare myself that. 🙂
“It used to be a political tool and still is to some degree”
For me, it always was, and all that it is.
I consider the DSM to be the “grail” of psychiatry. Without the possibility to make diagnoses, psychiatrists lose their relevance in clinical work and medicine.
Medication is the “Holy Grail” of psychiatry. Without the possibility to prescribe remedies, psychiatry not only loses its pertinence as a medical specialty, but also its financial ties with the pharmaceutical industry.
But we are missing the point completely. The “Holy Spirit” of psychiatry is coercion, treatment, coercive treatment. Beyond bogus diagnoses and miracle pills, what really matters is treatment, care, taking charge of. Treatment is not prevented by diagnoses however uncertain, nor by therapies however ineffective and harmful.
COERCION is the cornerstone of the whole psychiatric edifice. As David Cohen (UCLA professor of social work, also MIA writer) argued, coercion gives an intellectual free-pass for psychiatry’s outlandish theories. Power supports psychiatric knowledge, not the other way around. Psychiatrists don’t need a shred of evidence to ascertain the efficacy of emprisonment. They don’t need sophisticated biological theories to account for the high level of success of industrial grade electric shock to the brains of those who have to be subdued unlawfully or their memory erased. The be all and end all of psychiatry is behavior control.
And since psychiatry claims to act benevolently, and proceeds against the will of people, then psychiatric treatment has been for centuries, and still is today, torture. It always will be so, because unwanted help amounts to torture. Psychiatry is inherently tyrannical.
Basically, it serves nothing to criticize psychiatry on scientific or medical grounds. The theoretical foundations of psychiatry have been thoroughly dissolved in past decades, but psychiatry still survive as pure power. While it may help to terminate the modern Inquisition by exposing its “grail,” it must always be accomplished through the perspective of total annihilation, not reform. Did you happen, Lawrence, to read some of Philip “Behavoriator” Hickey’s articles? “Stigmatization of Psychiatry and Psychiatrists” is undoubtedly one of his best.
David Cohen, again, suggested in a French conference (he’s perfectly bilingual, and I am French-speaker myself) to stop criticizing psychiatry, just label it as pure propaganda, and then see who profit from it.
I agree with all that you say. I just meant that lately the vast majority of people who go to psychiatrists have been lured/tricked into voluntarily going, even though psychiatric “treatment” is still just as dehumanizing, disabling, destructive, and free will-negating as it has ever been. So my goal is to tell the public about how everything they hear from psychiatry is a lie, and that entering “treatment” will ruin their lives, so they will stay away from this monster. Of course coerced “treatment” is still occurring, and of course I am against people’s freedom being taken away without a proper trial/conviction by a jury of having committed a criminal act. I hope that a better educated public will also see it that way, after learning what psychiatry is really about. Yes, I read many of Philip Hickey’s articles. They greatly influenced me.
Something tells me MIA may regret having invited you aboard. 🙂
Signing off for the weekend.
[there was no symbolic reply button, so I’ve put it here]
Thanks for sharing your explanation of a metaphor. I am not alien to the fact that the term “mental illness” is metaphorical. Although I would much prefer if people adopted the similie, the nudist cousin of the metaphor, and said, if they really had to, that madness was *like* an illness.
I don’t have any personal hangups about being told I am suffering from something akin to an illness. Especially these days because I recently learnt from an article on here by Moncrieff, that dementia sufferers were also suffering from something illness-like. But which, like schizophrenia (and back in the days of Kraepelin the two were considered to be the same thing) has not been established in science as a bone fide illness. We could then make an imaginative and modern-day Malthusian leap, and put forward the idea that dementia is a conglomeration of poor coping skills, and a self-willed attempt to abscond from adult responsibilities…
You write that “poetry and science use diametrically opposed types of language.” The field of physics, for instance, is very dependent on metaphor. That is why I can say “black hole” and have no actual progressed understanding of the science, but nonetheless be understood, in a referential sense.
Using metaphors in scientific contexts is nothing untoward, or unprofessional. It’s unavoidable.
I don’t go in for romanticising suffering. But because of how language works, all kinds of wonderful things can happen when listening to a mad person chuntering at full pelt. Our brain’s find patterns. In the absence of stimuli, our brains go into overload. When the stimuli is intense, we can feel like something amazing is happening.
And if we feel like something amazing is happening, then something amazing is probably happening.
” And the prank- quean nipped a paly one and lit up again and redcocks flew flack-
ering from the hillcombs. And she made her witter before the
wicked, saying: Mark the Twy, why do I am alook alike two poss
of porterpease? And: Shut! says the wicked, handwording her
madesty. So her madesty aforethought set down a jiminy and
took up a jiminy and all the lilipath ways to Woeman’s Land she
rain, rain, rain.”
Let me explain why poetry and science use diametrically opposed types of language.
Science is basically common sense applied with an extreme level of rigor. The langage of science is rigorous. Its logic ought to be flawless: as per the law of identity, once the meaning of a term is given, the term retains its meaning beyond subjective, relative, arbitrary considerations. Science works with “statements”, not “sentences”, and the meaning of statements depends on “enunciation” – that is, the “context” in which a statement is formulated. The context must be declared in a way that leaves no room for uncertainty and randomness. No stone must be left unturned at every single step of the scientific inquiry. The fact that science uses analogies, models and fancy wordings, is no contra-indication to the implied rigor of its method.
Poetry leaves full room for interpretation and creativity. Meaning imparted to words is expected to vary with the subjective context. The poet uses figures of speech to play dough with the linguistic material. The art of poetry works with “sentences”, whose meaning depends on grammar. In poems, grammatical rules can be loosen up at will, notably by syntactic tweaking and inversion. The litterary sense usually serves as a background to evoke a more subtle, profound message, picture, feeling, understanding. The fact that poetry can aptly convey reliable truths about the world, is no contra-indication to the implied laxness of its ways and means.
To help cut on prospective confusion, it’s not a case of all-or-nothing between the two. There are such notions as interdependency, structuralism, dialectical reasoning, etc. Order, homogeneity, stability, determinism, are conditions for novelty, creativity, originality, freedom. “Necessity is the mother of invention”, the proverb says. Determinism, emergence, contingence, are natural principles of this mysterious, albeit lawful, Universe. Scientific knowledge is arrived at with its share of imagination, adventure, trial and error, boldness, madness. Think of mad geniuses who revolutionized our understanding of the world, or successful artists who exhibit self-destructive patterns, only to trap their own gifted and prolific minds into a phenomenological dead end.
Yes, I understand that scientific writing and poetry are two different ways of using langauge. I’m perplexed as to why you feel the need to hammer that home.
The point I made was really just a nittygritty correction to the claim you made that science didn’t rely on metaphorical language.
In fact, much of science relies on a completely different language entirely, namely mathematics.
I used the example of “black hole” in physics, because we all know the metaphorical term, but who knows or comprehends the complex maths?
Much of science is so complex that we rely on science writers to condense the complex maths into a narrative written in a language we understand, and that process is as artful as writing a poem.
And that is why we have been gifted with metaphors like “black hole” and burdened with the metaphorical “chemical imbalance”.
“Poetry leaves full room for interpretation and creativity.”
As does good science. A formal scientific study always ends with a conclusion and a kind of process of thinking aloud, speculating about what the results might mean. The results are interpreted and reams have been written about how various biases come into play.
“Think of mad geniuses who revolutionized our understanding of the world, or successful artists who exhibit self-destructive patterns, only to trap their own gifted and prolific minds into a phenomenological dead end.”
Well, Nietzsche went mad after he’d set out to the world how to intellectually rise above the masses. But I go with the scientists who speculate he was suffering from syphilis that had reached his superman brain, rather than put it down to burn-out or niacin deficiency. So while he does definitely attract the “genius” label, he wasn’t a mad genius when putting his thoughts to the page. I can’t think of any others off the top of my head. I’m fatigued after an 8-mile hike down canal paths. I expect there are numerous 10 Mad Genius lists out there.
Now you are talking about “successful artists who exhibit self-destructive patterns”… like say, Sylvia Plath (the fairy goddess of moroseness) or Charles Bukowski (the drunk savant)…
Earlier you were suggesting that people with schizophrenia were “failed poets” because they talked in a way that was highly ambiguous and metaphorical. Although, in my experience, most don’t. I accept some do. And this you speculate means that they are failed artists.
But if any artist is producing work, then surely they are succeeding?
At the risk of adding yet another view to this long train – it took a couple of hours to read it thru – and adding to the confusion – let me offer this. When I began training as a psychotherapist I was attracted to the Mental Research Institute’s (MRI – Haley, Watzlawick, etc) take on problems; that most problems are attempted “solutions” to some other life difficulty that hasn’t been successful; and some of us began writing the word “problem”, or “depression”, or “panic”,etc in strikethrough (which I don’t seem to be able to do on this site). I later discovered it was the “sous-rature” style of Heidegger and Derrida, the view that the word was “under erasure”. This is the Easter Bunny dilemma that others raise, if there are no mental health disorders then what are these woes? It seemed to me that this view enabled me (and others) to stop pulling the noose of diagnosis tighter, and review such situations as wrongly formulated. My friends in psychiatry insisted I pull the noose of diagnosis tighter. Later I was encouraged by Solution Focused Brief Therapy, and by simply exploring the preferred future there was no need to know of the problem, and I found problems (under erasure) dissolved literally like sugar in water as people began realising their preferred future.
Lawrence, you offer an analysis of the reason d’être for psychiatry pulling the noose tighter as changing historical conditions. If I get it – once it was to warn others that there is no escape from the factories of industrialisation (you can’t get out of the social contract that way!); but this has mutated into a disabling profession thats become parasitic on producing increasing numbers of disabled. You cite Foucault, and no doubt you are aware of his analysis (eg Society must be Defended) that since Machiavelli governments have moved resources here and there that have contributed to the thriving of some sectors of the population and the decline of other sectors of the population. As I understand it he gives the psychiatric rationale as “we can detect dangerousness at 50 paces, so allow us to lock these people up” (Society must be Defended). Todays world is, presumably, perceived by psychiatry as more dangerous, and hence more people are disabled – you got to admit their strategy is simple – get the people pulling their own nooses tighter.
You cite the social contract theories of Rosseau, Locke, Hobbes, as a rational behind the politics of this. But have you looked at Wittgenstein? The social contract theories stem from Descartes individualism – I can know my own mind, but not others, with certainty. From this individuals got together like some sort of Rotary club. But Wittgenstein reverses all this – you don’t join society you are already part of it! And I know your mind better than my own. Consider pain. In fact I know you are in pain immediately (most of the time); I don’t make an inference you are from your grimacing or because I have an internal Theory of Mind that I consult to understand you. I react as if I myself was in pain (especially my kids), no pause here for interpretation. I comes out of we. Dan Siegel has this neurological terms. Indigenous cultures have this as central – ubuntu in Zulu, whanuangatanga in NZ Maori, Shimcheong in Korean. If we are to recover as a culture – from greedy individualism in all its forms, we must humble ourselves to our indigenous people. Social contract theories are surrendered, ethics first (Levinas).
So we see in Seikkula’s Open Dialogue a “treatment” that utilises this sense of “we-ness” or dialogicity. If there’s one thing we know, anyone coming near a psychotic (in strikethrough) person with an agenda, is treated with suspicion – and the most successful treatment is those where the “alliance” is good. If we look back at Pinel in Paris he tried to manipulate people into change by having Pussin rattle chains etc. He gave birth to psychiatry. But when we look back at Tuke in York, he built relationships of respect. Like Soteria he advocated lay treatment. No giving them a noose.
Its now a hundred years since Wittgenstein, but he said it would take that long before he was understood. We are seeing glimpses of the Wittgenstein philosophy of mind permeating our intellectuals wine bars and cafes today, and the disappearance of Descartes…
It appears that an industry has been created by the APA and pharmaceutical lobbyists. Mental illness seems to be nothing more than a label created to financially benefit those involved. Perhaps Psychiatrists role should be to habilitate dangerous non conformists into society without sedating and addicting them to drugs. It is important to encourage free thought and unique methods to deal with life’s problems, however we still cannot allow behavior that threatens the safety and advancement of Society on the whole.
Thank you Dr. Kelmenson for your unique theories.
I agree Ray D. That’s what the judicial system is for.
As a law-abiding citizen who volunteers at the hospital, helps her ailing relatives, and visits neighbors who are homebound due to sickness I deeply resent being labeled “Bipolar” like some violent murderous criminal! What have I done to deserve to have Dr. Torrey malign my character on national television? (No, I’m very much in touch with reality. He warned the public that all those his profession has labeled SMI are a menace to society and should be locked up/physically damaged without a trial.)
Answer: I saw a psychiatrist, took the SSRI he offered, had a horrible reaction and have been punished ever since!
I no longer have mood swings–since tapering off my “cocktail” with no offline support system. Apparently mind-altering drugs can cause mood swings. Yet I’m struggling to find work with no history of gainful employment–in my mid-forties. Struggling to integrate myself into mainstream society. “Mental health” centers segregate, they do not integrate.
I live in constant fear that the truth about my damning diagnosis will leak out and I will be locked up or shunned. Like the self righteous villain of Les Miserables my pursuer is relentless. “Once a thief always a thief.” “Once a bipolar always a bipolar.”
In my case–and there are many like me–I didn’t even have to steal. No law was broken. Yet my “soul doctor” declared me incompetent and dangerous. Then drugged me into a stupor inducing daily–sometimes hourly seizures.
I no longer consider myself mad (crazy) but I’m very angry. And I feel it’s justified.
People who cannot tell of a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, or psychotherapist, they are already socially marginalized because they feel that they have to cooperate in their own abuse.
Thank you for the article Lawrence. I am not so sure about free will and choice, or for that matter “symptoms being voluntary”. But never mind me picking on minute details. I think we ABSOLUTELY need your input, your views and I feel lucky that you care enough to write an article for MIA, for us. I think many of us are so turned off by psychiatry, we scan the writers under a microscope to try and detect any ties to that system. We are so tired of the powers, that we do not want someone to slip in that has an alternate view, but that still has expertise on what ‘our problems’ might be. I think often it is a growth thing, you yourself I’m sure have learned an awful lot in the last 10/20 years, and now have ‘wisdom’ or insights that are far different than back then. And each person reading your writing is at a unique stage in their life, and might not understand the author’s meaning or philosophy. Each one of us perceives a spoken or written piece in their very own unique way. As far as old habits or coping tools, that is a process for people, even explaining it might not help someone/client, since it often takes events or age to realize. But I am really glad you focus on that area. And thank you for being here. Don’t let us scare you lol.
Good thinking-bad thinking.