Jeffrey Michael Friedman: Trauma and Forced Psychiatric Treatment


This week on MIA Radio, we interview Jeffrey Michael Friedman, a clinical social worker and an activist in the psychiatric survivors movement. Jeffrey provides trauma-informed therapy to victims of various forms of abuse and violence, including those who have survived abuses within the mental health system.


In addition to his work in the mental health field, Jeffrey is actively involved in the harm reduction movement, which supports human rights and non-coercive services for people who actively use drugs.

In this interview, we discuss why forced psychiatric treatment is a form of trauma and its impact on victims and their families.

In this episode we discuss:

  • How Jeffrey‚Äôs early experience with the alternative school system led to being othered and ostracized, which influenced his later involvement with the psychiatric survivors movement.
  • How the trauma-informed perspective offers an alternative framework to the traditional medical model of mental health.
  • Why forced psychiatric treatment meets the definition of trauma, and more specifically, betrayal trauma.
  • The psychological effects of involuntary commitment forced drugging and outpatient commitment.
  • That forced treatment reinforces the notion that distress or crisis results from individual pathology rather than familial mistreatment or trauma.
  • That victims of forced treatment may be less likely to seek medical care for physical health issues or receive proper medical treatment.
  • How survivors can heal from forced treatment.
  • The parallels between the harm reduction movement and the psychiatric survivors movement, and similarities between safe consumption sites and peer services.
  • That the addiction treatment industry, including 12-step programs, can be coercive in similar ways to the mental health system.

Relevant Links:

Jeffrey Michael Friedman, LCSW

What is a Betrayal Trauma? What is Betrayal Trauma Theory?

The Power Thinker‚Äď a brief description of Michel Foucault‚Äôs work on power and surveillance.

Altruism Born of Suffering

Principles of Harm Reduction

Thomas Szasz: The Right to Take Drugs

The Legal Industry for Kidnapping Teens¬†‚Äď a description of the physically forceful transportation services that are sometimes utilized to transport teenagers to addiction treatment.

Jeffrey Michael Friedman on SoundCloud

Jeffrey can be followed on Twitter: @jmfriedman and Instagram: traumainformedpodcast

To get in touch with us email: [email protected]

© Mad in America 2018


  1. Maybe you guys and gals should interview that guy Richard Lewis who just wrote a song focusing on this topic. That’s uncool because he is one of the more prolific commenters on site and author too. Not saying I agree with blogs and comments here too much but I did notice that idiosyncrasy.

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  2. About time MIA addressed the trauma we experience as a result of treatment other than “drugs.” Such as imprisonment where we are treated like a nonhuman “thing.”

    Friedman is right that most therapists and trauma centers assume “abuse” means parental abuse but when I talk about I mean abuse I got from while inpatient and from some of my doctors and therapists. There is nowhere for us to go with this, nowhere to talk about it. No forums. No support group. No place. You only hope someone will listen, but if you try to talk about that effectively ends the conversation.

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    • Lots of other sources of abuse, too. School was a huge one for me. Just for one example, I got hit in the head in 2nd grade BY THE TEACHER when I had the temerity to object when she tossed a book over our heads in a rage while spitting venomous words at the whole class. Of course, nothing happened to hear at all, while me and another kid had to go to the principal’s office. That was the worst, but stuff like this happened all the time, with kids getting intimidated, punished and humiliated just for acting like kids. Churches and businesses and many other institutions are similarly abusive. To limit trauma to family of origin stuff (though that is VERY important!) will miss a lot of the harms that our society perpetrates on those not in power positions.

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      • Steve, I heard from other kids when I was growing up in the 1960’s that in the Catholic schools the teachers were like that all the time. The stories were so consistent that sadly, we accepted abuse of students as “normal.” We knew it wasn’t right but we were just little kids. There were stories about our school and Hebrew school, too. I never got hit by a teacher but one of them took it upon herself to jeer at me repeatedly, some of the teachers’ aides, too. I was terrified at lunch time because a lunch lady picked on me every time I returned my used tray to the return window. In remembrance of her and those times I wrote a piece called “Lunch Lady Communist.” It was one of my best blog entries from back then. You can probably find it in my blog, likely dated ages ago.

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      • I think the doctors tend to “force treat” non-violent and non-dangerous people, likely because the non-violent and non-dangerous people won’t be a problem for them. And because many of us have good health insurance, and the doctors just want to defraud our private health insurance companies out of lots of money for unneeded “medical care.”

        Like my now FBI convicted forced treatment doctor, who was eventually convicted for defrauding Medicare/Medicaid out of lots of money, for similar crimes he committed against me, that he also committed against many Medicare/Medicaid patients.

        Although doctors do force treat people to cover up prior easily recognized and complex malpractice, as well as medical evidence of the abuse of one’s child, at least those were the issues I ran into, according to all my family’s medical records.

        And I’ve learned that psychiatric/psychological profiteering off of covering up child abuse in general, is the number one actual function of today’s psychiatric and psychological industries, according to their own medical literature.

        Today, over 80% of those labeled with “depression,” “anxiety,” “bipolar,” and “schizophrenia” are actually child abuse victims. Over 90% of those diagnosed as “borderline” are actually child abuse victims.

        All these “mental health industry” misdiagnoses of child abuse victims with these other billable DSM disorders has occurred because child abuse is classified in the DSM as a “V Code.” And NO “mental health professional” may ever bill ANY insurance company for helping ANY child abuse victim, without first misdiagnosing them with one of the billable DSM disorders. Since the “V Codes” are not billable DSM disorders.

        Although, absolutely I agree forced treatment by doctors for these nefarious reasons does result in a type of “betrayal trauma,” especially when done in collusion with pastors and leaders of one’s childhood religion. I’d be one of the many “widows” mentioned in the Preface of this book, written by a disgusted but ethical ELCA Lutheran insider, who discusses the ELCA synod offices’ likely massive in scope, and appalling, pedophilia covering up crimes in the chapter on evil.

        And such illegal behavior by “mental health professionals,” in collusion with mainstream doctors and religious “professionals” does result in distrust in all the satanic pedophilia covering up and profiteering medical and religious “professionals.”

        Absolutely, I agree with Steve, abuse does occur in schools, churches, businesses and many other institutions, not just within the nuclear families. I will say I was able to scare my child’s school into closing it’s doors forever after the medical evidence of the abuse of my child was handed over, because one of the satanic pedophiles was on their school board. My children’s preschool did choose to close it’s doors forever, on of all days, the satanic 6.6.06.

        It’s shameful our country now has multiple, DSM deluded, primarily child abuse covering up industries, which collectively work together to create today’s multibillion dollar, primarily child abuse covering up, “mental health industry.”

        Especially since we now know the ADHD drugs and antidepressants create the “bipolar” symptoms, and the adverse effects of these drug classes have been misdiagnosed on a massive scale by today’s “mental health professionals” as “bipolar,” resulting in a completely iatrogenic “childhood bipolar epidemic.”

        And we now know the DSM recommended “bipolar” and “schizophrenia” drug cocktail recommendations, which call for combining the antidepressants and/or antipsychotics (aka neuroleptics), can create both the negative and positive symptoms of “schizophrenia.”

        The negative symptoms of “schizophrenia” can be created via NIDS and the positive symptoms can be created via antidepressant and/or antipsychotic induced anticholinergic toxidrome.

        Although since neither of these medically known ways to create the “schizophrenia” symptoms are listed in the DSM, they are ALWAYS misdiagnosed as one of the billable DSM disorders.

        The head of the National Institute of Mental Health did finally confess in 2013 to the total lack of scientific validity of all the DSM disorders, thankfully.

        I hope the “mental health professionals” won’t actually take 17 years to wake the frick up, and realize that functioning as a multibillion dollar, primarily pedophilia covering up industry, is both illegal and appalling.

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  3. Mental health professionals are in the business of covering up the abuse of other mental health professionals. They will never admit the faults of the other ones. They will cover for each other no matter how bad the abuse, even cover for sexual abuse done in mental health settings, claiming the patient must have been “attention-seeking” or must have a “persecution complex.” Mental health professionals are obliged like anyone else to report abuse of patients done by other professionals or staff or abuse that happens in facilities (such as physical abuse and neglect) because they are mandatory reporters. They are obliged to report these abuses by law. Do they ever? No, instead, they claim the patient needs more drugs and more therapy, and they insist that the patient is drugged into silence. Rarely does a professional encourage a patient to report abuse to the police, or file a report to the proper authority as required by law.

    These really are laws in all states. If you see abuse on the job you have to contact police. They sign papers saying this, even if you are a volunteer. This is true even if you aren’t a mandatory reporter by profession. I swear the janitors and those bringing around jars of flowers were more ethical than the nurses.

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  4. I just read about people who are trauma survivors feeling like their lives are going to be cut short, having a feeling of imminent death that isn’t a suicidal urge but just a feeling like you do not have much time left or a feeling of urgency? Does anyone else have that, too? I have had that myself and I thought it was a “new life philosophy” that I developed after I was deprived of water in a hospital. But I am beginning to wonder if maybe it’s a result of the trauma. I always feel like I have to rush, and that started after MGH deprived me of water. After that I had a lot of trouble getting people to believe me or take me seriously. I hope someone reads this.

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