The Myth of Mental Wellness: Can We Really Improve our “Mental Health”?

Lawrence Kelmenson, MD
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I previously showed, by process of elimination, that “mental illness” is nothing but a subjective label for coping styles that are disruptive to society (below I’ll show how this is true for various specific mental illnesses). If so then mental health, the flip side of the same mental illness coin, must be merely a subjective label for coping styles that are constructive to society. A process-of-elimination dissection of the World Health Organization’s mental health definition confirms this:

It first says that mental health is a state of well-being, but since health is a synonym for wellness, this doesn’t explain what it means. It then says that it’s the reaching of one’s potential and the ability to cope with stress. But the Parkland School Shooter attained his life goal of being a ‘professional school shooter,’ which was his way of coping with stress, yet he’s not deemed mentally healthy. So this really means: reaches one’s potential and copes in ways that are productive to society. It then restates this overtly, by saying that mental health means working and contributing to society. So that’s all it is.

Madness (psychosis) must be a concept that’s in the eye of the beholder rather than an objective reality, since we call people crazy if they disagree with our beliefs. For example, you may judge me crazy for proposing this. Belief systems (and behaviors associated with them) in one culture in one era may be judged crazy in another culture or time; this is known as cultural relativism. For example, animal sacrifice used to be normal practice, but today it would be perceived as madness.

Psychosis can’t refer to beliefs not based in reality, since most of us have such beliefs (political, philosophical, spiritual, ethical, moral, etc.). Only those that don’t adhere to any norms or customs of society, and thus only make sense to one member but are incoherent to all others, are judged to be delusional. For example, someone driving on the left side of the road will be perceived as a crazy driver in the US, but one who drives on the right side in England will be called crazy. So madness must be purely a subjective label given to those who, by coping non-conformingly, disrupt society

ADHD is also likely just an arbitrary concept, since it’s more often perceived by older parents1 and teachers2 (perhaps since they have less stamina). It’s perceived more by certain ethnicities3 and nations4 despite its ‘symptoms’ occurring equally among these,5 and also perceived more by moms than dads.

Its core criteria of aimless activity, inattention and impulsivity used to be considered aspects of normal, outgrowable childhood immaturity that we all start life with. They’re thus easily perceived in all young kids (especially if parents constantly hear: “ADHD is a common treatable disease that blocks kids from succeeding”), since they’ve not yet been raised and so are only starting to mature. Similarly, bipolar criteria (moodiness/temper) used to be viewed as normal, resolvable adolescent turmoil and are easily perceived in all teens, since they’re also still being raised and still maturing.

This explains why the youngest kids in class are the ones most often labeled.6 7 8 9 ‘Diagnosing’ is supposed to only occur when such traits are age-inappropriate, belying that they’re indeed signs of immaturity. So ADHD and bipolar disorder are just labels that can apply to all kids, whose normal traits are likely often draining and disruptive to today’s busy, tired, role-juggling teachers and parents

Sadness and anxiety are unavoidable emotions; so they’re also normal experiences. Their degree is unmeasurable, since we don’t have sadness/anxiety meters that can be objectively read. It’s thus measured subjectively (by self-report). People can easily misperceive their feelings as worse than other people’s, especially when continually bombarded by propaganda about sadness (“depression”) being a severe, disabling,under-diagnosed illness tormenting hundreds of millions. Rewards like sick role status can unconsciously condition them to exaggerate their misery. And just as people may cry on the inside yet smile on the outside due to social/financial pressure to appear happy, others may feel okay on the inside yet cry on the outside due to pressure to seem sad.

The presence of so-called depressive symptoms doesn’t imply more suffering. For example, if people withdraw and stay in bed, we’ll judge them to be very sad. But taking breaks from society after being hurt is just one way to adapt to it. So why are only those who cope this way arbitrarily perceived as depressed/ill? The only explanation is their lower social productivity. If they instead cope by throwing themselves into their job, we’ll perceive them to be happy, or mentally healthy, since they’re being socially productive.

Happiness is illusory and transient anyway; joy is felt as a result of resolving tension. As philosophers from St.Augustine10 to Rousseau11 to Eysenck12 have noted, it fades once we get used to it. The lower the low, the higher the high, and vice versa. This is known as hedonic adaptation, or the hedonic treadmill. It explains why lottery winners and paralyzing injury victims reported reverting to baseline happiness levels within months of initial elation/sadness.13 This 1978 study would have had different results if done after depression became a thing in the ‘80s — sadness due to loss or disappointment is no longer perceived as a normal reaction that one can get through in time. Its perception as a crippling affliction that forever controls one’s destiny/identity is now imbedded in our culture.

Mental health is nothing more than a concept. It’s not only not a medical field; it can’t even qualify as a science. Its domain is only value judgments, abstract ideas, and subjective perceptions. Its hypotheses are untestable. Its measurements are so arbitrary that they can be easily fudged to prove any theory. It thus belongs in the humanities, along with philosophy or ethics. Faith in it is as psychotic as any of the beliefs that it labels psychotic.

Seeing it as real involves judging people to be better off coping one way than another. This would be like proclaiming that certain types of music are good for you while others are bad for you, and pressuring outliers to seek musical health services instead of allowing ‘to each his own’. Placebos and sedatives could be prescribed with similar ‘therapeutic’ results as from mental health services.

So happiness businesses such as psych or alternative meds, cognitive therapy, self-help programs, coaching/counseling, mindfulness/holistic/nutritional healing, and shiny new cars or other items advertised as happiness-inducing, can’t really improve ‘mental wellness’. All they do is abnormalize normal human experiences, and change coping methods into ones that can increase both society’s efficiency (in the short-run) and their businesses’ profits. Since our economy is consumer-based, coping by buying happiness products and services itself helps society thrive; it may account for most U.S. purchases.

But it can’t stop life’s tensions from recurring. We are all driven to find ways to adapt — some are called ill and others healthy, but they all work in some way or else we wouldn’t use them. Mental health, like mental illness, is a myth.14 They’re two sides of the same coin, and it’s a wooden nickel.

Show 14 footnotes

  1. Racial and Ethnic Disparities in ADHD Diagnosis from Kindergarten to Eighth Grade. Morgan, P, et al, Peds, Jul 2013,132(1)85-93.
  2. Who Receives a Diagnosis of ADHD in the United States Elementary School Population. Schneider, H, Eisenberg, D, Peds 2006 Apr 117(4)601-9.
  3. Racial and Ethnic Disparities in ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment. Coker, T, et al, Peds, Sep 2016, 138(3).
  4. The Global Market for ADHD Medications. Scheffler, R, et al, Health Affairs 2007, Mar 26(2)450-7.
  5. The Worldwide Prevalence of ADHD – Is it an American Condition? Faraone, S, et al, World Psy 2003, Jun 2(2)104-13.
  6. The Importance of Relative Standards in ADHD Diagnosis: Evidence Based on Exact Birth Dates. Elder, T, J Health Econ, 29, 2010, 641-56.
  7. Influence of Relative Age on Diagnosis and Treatment of ADHD in Childhood. Morrow, R, et al, CMAJ 2012, April 17,184(7)755-62.
  8. Influence of Relative Age on Diagnosis and Treatment of ADHD in Taiwanese Children. Chen, M, et al, J Pediatrics 2016, May, 172, 162-7.
  9. Influence of Birth Month on the Probability of Western Australian Children Being Treated for ADHD. Whitely, M, et al, Med J Australia 2017, 206(2)85.
  10. St. Augustine quoted by R. Burton in ”Anatomy of Melancholy,” 1621.
  11. Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men. Rousseau, J, 1754.
  12. Happiness: Facts and Myths. Eysenck, M, 1990, Erlbaum, Hove, East Sussex.
  13. Lottery Winners and Accident Victims: Is Happiness Relative? Brickman, P, et al, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1978, 36(8)917-27.
  14. The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct. Szasz, T, Hoeber-Harper, New York, 1961.
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Lawrence Kelmenson, MD
Lawrence Kelmenson has practiced psychiatry for 32 years, working with children, adults, and families. He graduated medical school from State University of New York, and completed psychiatric residency training at Cornell. He then became staff psychiatrist, and later medical director, of Craig House Hospital in Beacon, New York until 2000, and has since conducted a psychotherapy-based private practice in Cold Spring, New York. 

165 COMMENTS

  1. A wooden nickel! Yes. That’s right. I would simply add that it is a poisonous wooden nickel. The dragon of psychiatry thrives on the corresponding myths of so-called “mental illness” and “mental health,” as well as the “chemical imbalance” hoax. Thomas Szasz’ timeless classic “The Myth of Mental Illness” is still the best book that has ever been written on this topic. https://psychiatricsurvivors.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/the-myth-of-mental-illness/

      • I don’t think anyone here is denying that the things that are called “mental illnesses” exist and need and deserve help. I think we’re saying that the idea that these are “illnesses like diabetes” is a complete and utter lie, designed to sell drugs and “services.” I have no problem with people using drugs to assist them in dealing with whatever issues they need to deal with. I have a BIG problem with the psychiatric profession telling us that ALL depression is caused by “brain chemistry defects” when there is no evidence that this is the case.

        I think it’s easy to get hung up on rhetoric. But the bottom line is, regardless of individual success stories, which exist in plenty, the psychiatric profession itself is corrupt, and the model used to “diagnose” these “disorders” is fatally flawed and does a lot of damage. Real informed consent means admitting that they don’t know what causes ANY of their “mental disorders” nor do they even know if these categories they have identified are valid entities to study, as the people grouped together as having “major depressive disorder” or “ADHD” or even “Schizophrenia” often have little to nothing in common with each other except the label.

        Until the day when someone can objectively divide those who “have a disorder” from those who don’t, I will continue to hold that the DSM labels that psychiatrists so breezily hand out to all and sundry are, indeed, scientifically mythological. And the people who actually DO need help will be best served if they scratch the DSM concept and start over with trying to find the REAL reasons why these phenomena happen, and more importantly, come up with a legitimate way of approaching these problems that actually leads to large numbers of people recovering, instead of leading to an ever-increasing number of people becoming disabled and unable to lead their lives.

        • I don’t think anyone here is denying that the things that are called “mental illnesses” exist and need and deserve help.

          If you don’t think that you’ve been ignoring the very point that many of us make, which is that there are no “things” of this nature, even by a different name. Dragon Slayer, you around?

          • And yet you also don’t seem to like the Power Threat Meaning idea either. Your version of anti-psychiatry seems to boil down to “bootstraps until the revolution” for anyone who has been traumatized and needs/wants help. This idea that we are all so different from each other that we cannot possibly notice common patterns of reaction to adversity is surprisingly individualistic for a leftist, no?

          • I didn’t phrase that quite correctly. I should have said that the SUFFERING that is sometimes named a “mental illness” can be very real, but the act of labeling it a “disease” or “disorder” is still mythological. I agree 100%, there are no “things” that “mental illness” labels actually identify – they are fictionl and mythological. But some people seem to think that this position means we are denying that people experience negative feelings or thoughts or have a difficult time making their way through the world, and I don’t think anyone here would pretend that such emotions and experiences don’t exist.

          • “Thomas Szasz’s essay misses several key points about the undoubted changes that psychiatry has undergone since he wrote his original screed against the discipline in 1961. Szasz fails to recognise that the discipline today acknowledges a neurological basis for much psychiatric illness. Thus, his fulminations against psychiatry for treating ‘mental illness’ is off-base. Szasz’s original diatribe was heavily against psychoanalysis. Yet today Freud’s doctrines can scarcely be said to play even a marginal role in psychiatry, and it is absurd to keep levelling the same old charges of 50 years ago. One has the feeling of looking at one of the last veterans of the Esperanto movement in confronting Szasz: lunacy at the time, bizarrely outdated today.”
            –Edward Shorter in 2011, he is a professor at U of Toronto, respected historian of medicine and author of a number of books.

          • @Uprising: Noticing patterns and concluding that those patterns represent something that can be categorized and quantified are different animals.

            It’s a different thread, but I have no hostility towards the “framework” if some find it helpful; I just don’t get the hubbub. It seems primarily an academic document geared towards clinical psychologists, and speaks in generalities rather than taking concrete political positions.

          • “Thomas Szasz’s essay misses several key points about the undoubted changes that psychiatry has undergone since he wrote his original screed against the discipline in 1961. Szasz fails to recognise that the discipline today acknowledges a neurological basis for much psychiatric illness. Thus, his fulminations against psychiatry for treating ‘mental illness’ is off-base. Szasz’s original diatribe was heavily against psychoanalysis. Yet today Freud’s doctrines can scarcely be said to play even a marginal role in psychiatry, and it is absurd to keep levelling the same old charges of 50 years ago. One has the feeling of looking at one of the last veterans of the Esperanto movement in confronting Szasz: lunacy at the time, bizarrely outdated today.”
            –Edward Shorter in 2011, he is a professor at U of Toronto, respected historian of medicine and author of a number of books.

            This used to be my mode of thinking as well. “Oh look at the brain scans, neurotransmitters etc.”.

            Rather than quoting Shorter and his ilk, you’d do well to actually read the works of the man yourself and then form an opinion.

            Proponents of psychiatry like to keep citing the same old “neurological basis” crap and they keep falsely ascribing the notion of “mind-brain duality” to Szasz, which wasn’t something he promoted at all.

            There is no behaviour without a brain, and we all know that. So what? What behaviour in life does not have a neurological basis? The fact that you read and quoted Shorter’s screed has a neurological basis in both your brain and Shorter’s brain.

          • Let me define Ethics Deficit Disorder:

            Ethics Deficit Disorder is characterised by:

            1.) Constantly seeks to label people with DSM labels.
            2.) Sees no ethical implications of behavioural labelling.
            3.) Enjoys and feels comfortable in the power role
            4.) Is indifferent to the consequences of said practices

            There, you now have a new disorder which also has a neurological basis.

            Psychiatry even delves into the realm of people with “character defects” with its “personality disorders”. Things like being a narcissist or having “black and white thinking”.

            They’ve even proposed “Internet Gaming Disorder” for the DSM-5!

            “Symptoms” include:

            1.) Overwhelming preoccupation with online-activities to an extent, that leads to impairment or distress

            2.) Inability to limit time spent on the Internet

            3.) Loss of other interests

            4.) The need to spend increasing time on the Internet

            5.) Unsuccessful attempt to quit Internet-use

            6.) Use of the Internet to improve or escape aversive conditions, for example stress, Unfavorable duties, dysphoric mood

            7.) Withdrawal symptoms when the Internet is no longer available.

            There’s a whole page on it which includes sections like “Introduction, Mechanism of Internet Gaming and Addiction, Onset, Comorbidities, and then treatment (which includes recommendations of drugs)”! It reads like so many of the other journal papers of psychiatry with its talks of “comorbidities” and therapies.

            There’s also a Wikipedia page

            If this is not the medicalisation of everyday life that Szasz warned us about, I don’t know what is.

            Also, this constant nonsense about “Oh, it’s from the 1960s-1970s” is rubbish. So what? Newton’s laws of motion are from the 1600s! So, does that mean they do not have a great deal of validity today? They may not apply to certain situations but are still quite useful in everyday life.

            Besides, Szasz died in 2012, and continued to publish till almost the year of his death. It’s not like he wasn’t aware of people like Shorter (and there are so many “Shorters” out there) and their writings.

        • I will not disagree, Steve, that the profession of psychiatry is corrupt, that the drug industry is corrupt, that “Social Services” are chockablock with people who are narcissistic jerks who get off on feeling superior to and controlling their ‘clients.’ I have had some truly hellacious shrinks, psychologists, social workers….but what I find intellectually jejune is absolutism. ALL of anything isn’t bad (except the Devil!) and ALL of anything isn’t good (except God.) Claiming there is no such thing as mental illness is the province of poseurs. Trust me, I’ve seen my share in my 66 years. There are also people who are seriously disturbed (and disturbing) but deny it–everyone else is crazy/wrong not them. Of course they see fairies doing the hula on their stove, but if you don’t see it it’s you who’s screwy :D. I’ve spent a LOT of time with people who are, shall we say, only occasionally visitors to consensual reality and some who never even drop by. They are not happy campers. They do not need some intellectual telling them mean old society is to blame for not accommodating their delusions. There have been insane people and a concept of ‘madness’ as long as there have been people and if ‘postmodernist theorists’ weren’t so damn ignorant of history and context they’d know that. But again, poseurs.
          Yes, the whole thing needs to be rethought from the ground up, but denying mental illness exists may seem tres avant to a millenial who doesn’t know WTF happened before they started to shave, but it’s old shite, as I said, debunked nicely 40 years ago. Not the place to start to help people who need helping and eliminate the bastards who profit fro their suffering.

          • So did you miss my main point? I’m saying that the CATEGORIES dreamed up in committees by the psychiatric profession are not real categories that identify real “disease states” that can be “treated” by the proper “medication.” Not denying that it sucks to be depressed all the time (used to be that way myself, actually), or that there may be some depressed people who actually DO have something physiologically wrong with them. It’s just that lumping all depressed people together and saying they have “Major Depressive Disorder” based on a checklist of unwanted behaviors and feelings doesn’t make it a “disease.” Can we agree on that much?

        • The false notion of “mental illness” is actually a product of post-modernism, and Old Head is perfectly capable of thinking for himself. The problem is that the myth of mental illness is so pervasive that the slightest amount of skepticism is often counted as heresy. No, there is no such thing as “mental illness,” and no, that reality has not been debunked. That’s the difficult thing about reality… it’s hard to debunk.

      • @Mischa:

        Every now and then we do get people here who talk about how they have benefitted from psychiatry and they feel enraged at the writers and commenters here which is fine and understandable. It is great to know that you found a method that worked for you, be it psychiatry or anything else.

        Quite often, I don’t really bother about the content of some of the articles here (and yes, this particular article has a bit of word play in it), but I do like engaging in discussions with the commenters.

        I’d like to bring up some points. Firstly, “bipolar disorder”, “agoraphobia”, “schizophrenia” aren’t family histories. They are behavioural labels. You’re doing a disservice to yourself and your family members by replacing the occurrences of their life and the reasons for those occurrences and robbing away the truths of their life by saying that those behavioural labels are their/your “family histories”. I don’t deny that they/you have suffered nor the reality of their experiences nor of yours.

        Quite often, when people talk about Szasz and talk about the “myth of mental illness”, they don’t even understand what Szasz was trying to say. Szasz was neither against voluntary “psychiatry/psychology” (or “confidential sessions of listening and talking” as he called them) nor of people’s wish to take meds/drugs (he wrote a whole book on “Our Right To Drugs”), so I don’t see what the problem is (at least on that front). Szasz tried to explain that many of the phenomena labelled as “mental illness” are an attempt to confront and to tackle the problem of how to live, and to identify such phenomena as a disease or illness is to hide the very problems in living that people face. He also talked about the metaphorical nature of that term. Thomas Szasz himself was a practicing “psychotherapist” and some of his clients were psychiatrists and psychologists themselves!

        In Szasz’s time, Karl Menninger was a psychiatrist, who held beliefs much like some of the ones today.

        Towards the end of his life, he wrote to Szasz on October 6, 1988 (I am posting his letter is in italics)

        Dear Dr. Szasz:

        I am holding your new book, INSANITY: THE IDEA AND ITS CONSEQUENCES, in my hands. I read part of it yesterday and I have also read reviews of it. I think I know what it says but I did enjoy hearing it said again. I think I understand better what has disturbed you these years and, in fact, -it disturbs me, too, now. We don’t like the situation that prevails whereby a fellow human being is put aside, outcast as it were, ignored, labeled and said to be “sick in his mind.” If he can pay for care and treatment, we will call him a patient and record a “diagnosis” (given to his relatives for a fee). He is listened to and then advised to try to relax, consider his past sins to be forgiven, renounce his visions or voices or fits, quit striking his neighbor’s windows with his cane, or striking his neighbor’s windows with his cane, or otherwise making himself conspicuous by eccentric behavior. He tries.

        For this service we charge, now. Doctors were once satisfied with a gift, or token, or sometimes just an earnest verbal expression of gratitude. Even if the treatment given was not immediately curative, the doctor had done the sagacious and difficult task of having approached the crazy subject and listened to him and given the condition a NAME, and a prognosis. (In fact, the latter was what he was a specialist in; treatment was really secondary.) You and I remember that there didn’t used to be any treatments, just care and prognosis, “fatal,” “nonfatal,” “serious” “commitable,” “nonpsychotic.” Gradually empirical and chemical agents were discovered which seemed to alter something in the organism which was reflected in the customer’s changed behavior. We accumulated a few methods that seemed to relieve the suffering of these customers, our “patients.” We used prolonged baths, cold sheet packs, diathermy, electric shock, and there were all those other treatments of whipping, strapping down, giving cold douches and sprays. King George III of England was slapped and punched by the fists of one of his “nurses” who later bragged that he even knocked his patient, the King, to the floor “as flat as a flounder.” And the King ultimately recovered but those treatments weren’t outlawed. Added to the beatings and chaining and the baths and massages came treatments that were even more ferocious: gouging out parts of the brain, producing convulsions with electric shocks, starving, surgical removal of teeth, tonsils, uteri, etc.

        Next someone discovered some chemicals that had peculiar effects on people who swallowed them. Alcohol was already well known and opium and morphine and heroin and cocaine; but Luminal was introduced and “Seconal” and similar pharmaceutical concoctions given names ending in “al” or “ol” (as in Demerol). These were regarded as therapeutically useful because they did dispel some of the symptoms and they made the patient feel better (briefly). No baths, no brain operations, no chemicals, no electric shocks, no brain stabbing.

        Long ago I noticed that some of our very sick patients surprised us by getting well even without much of our “treatment.” We were very glad, of course, but frequently some of them did something else even more surprising. They kept improving, got “weller than well” as I put it, better behaved and more comfortable or reasonable than they were before they got into that “sick” condition. We didn’t know why. But it seemed to some of us that kind of the “sickness” that we had seen was a kind of conversion experience, like trimming a fruit tree, for example.

        Well, enough of those recollections of early days. You tried to get us to talk together and take another look at our material. I am sorry you and I have gotten apparently so far apart all these years. We might have enjoyed discussing our observations together. You tried; you wanted me to come there, I remember. I demurred. Mea culpa.

        Best wishes.

        Sincerely,
        Karl Menninger, M.D.

        Contrary to your assertions, if you actually read his work, you would understand that he actually knew a great deal about suffering. Yes, one feels ambivalent regarding some of his works, but that does not remove the great deal he contributed.

        Second, I have known seen several people who suffer a lot due to depression, anxiety and a lot of other problems like being deluded or whatever else it is. And people have various ways of coping with them. It may be physical exercise, social interactions, taking pills or what have you. You don’t even know what it means to denying “the myths of mental illness”. It is not denying people’s problems in living, thinking or feeling, no matter what you have been fed by psychiatrists or reading random nonsense about big bad “antipsychiatry” online.

        How does this remove the dangers of psychiatry? The truth-obfuscating labelling, the disease-mongering or whatever else. For the most part, shrinks aren’t intentionally bad individuals looking to torture people. But their intentions don’t remove the other harmful modalities of their professions.

        What if you had drugs forced onto you which were ruining your body but you still had to take them? What if you had drugs forced onto you for problems that are not even solvable by drugging up people? Or, what if behavioural labels robbed away the truths of your life, were used to gaslight or harass you, used against you in a court of law? What when people are labelled with labels or do crazy things due to adverse reactions to prescription drugs? The odds would be stacked against you because it is you who would be seen through the prism of sanism and not others.

        Just as I or anyone else should not deny your very real suffering and the positive contributions that the behavioural professions made to your life, you cannot deny that of others and the negative consequences the behavioural professions have made on their life either.

        Good day to you.

        • Registeredforthissite (brilliant SN BTW), I never denied that psychiatry is a horrible mess. But again–denying that there are people who are mentally disturbed is quite frankly ridiculous. I would love it if this site had profiles so we could see which pontificators have actually been in the mental health system and exactly what their experiences were. I was in a writing class once full of dolts making inane criticisms. I didn’t decide writing classes are all bad and that no one should be allowed to criticize anyone else’s work ever. When you get way out ahead of your evidence you risk looking like you can’t reason.

          • And now Mischa confounds the notion of “mentally disturbed” with “mental illness.” How dare anyone question psychiatric dogma! It’s “science.” 🙂 Mischa, you might want to support your pontifications with some evidence. If you’ve discovered a real “mental illness,” please inform the rest of us, because yours would be the first discovery of its kind, and a scientific breakthrough.

          • Yo, did you just get back from obnoxious class? I and no doubt others are teetering between reporting your posts as personal attacks and pointing out the ignorance permeating your rants. I will abstain from wasting my energy as there are too many real issues to cover here, with people who have a clue. There are plenty of online junk-science chats for people looking to reinforce each other’s programming by psychiatry.

          • I can’t speak for Slaying, but I have helped and supported hundreds, probably thousands of people as a counselor, advocate, friend, parent, teacher, listening ear, etc. I had next to zero training in psychology, absolutely zero training in psychiatry, and have never for one minute subscribed to the physiological reality of any of the “DSM” concepts. Remember they are VOTED ON in committees and are “diagnosed” by checklists! It’s like basing a diagnosis on one of those Reader’s Digest “Are you an introvert or an extrovert?” quizzes. It is BULLSHIT! And refusing to use or believe in these diagnoses has never provided the slightest impediment to me helping lots and lots of people who would fit any number of these “diagnoses.” In fact, I think it worked strongly to my advantage to avoid them. Because it allowed the person I was helping to define both the problem as they saw it and the possible solutions, and empowered them to address THEIR problem rather than the one foisted on them by well-meaning but condescending “professionals.” Suffering is not a myth. The idea that suffering can be categorized and “treated” in the same way a broken leg or a hernia can is absolutely a myth. And admitting this to be true actually opens the door to finding REAL solutions for people who are suffering.

          • Looks like we struck another nerve, Dragon Slayer. (I did report this for the sake of consistency re: “personal attacks” btw but to be honest I sort of got a kick from the reaction. “Man up, dude”? Priceless.) 🙂

            I think he freaked out when you asked him to provide evidence for his claims.

            Still, the posts should be deleted. Equal justice under the MIA law or something like that.

          • No wonder this generation is the most abysmal in history. Can’t even come up with original ideas but have to reanimate the corpses of people who wrote before they were born. Truly sad. No wonder most of them can’t find jobs or homes outside mom’s basement ;).

            Riiight. I’m sure it has nothing at all to do with the economy.

          • Thanks Mischa. This is great stuff.

            As soon as you make a point, I’m sure that people reading your posts would be happy to consider what it might be. But thus far you have simply thrown around insults and made ad hominem attacks without presenting any actual arguments or supplying any evidence for your conclusions. I don’t think anyone has the time or the inclination to insult you, nor does anyone on MIA care about genuflection. Many people express a wide variety of views on these issues (and I would add that for the most part they do so civilly).

            As for “this shrink Kelmenson,” he’s received plenty of push back from plenty of people. But by all means, feel free to jump back in and throw around accusations and insult everyone. It’s comical. If you have a point to make, I’m sure that everyone would be willing to hear you out. But if not, I’m sure that everyone will at least be entertained by your diatribes.

          • So Mischa, it sounds like you agree with the people you’re arguing with (and with Szaz) on the main issue, namely, that psychiatric diagnoses are bullshit. So what’s with the endless stream of ad hominem attacks? If it’s all semantics, why not just find the part you agree with and agree with it and move on? Your behavior has become obnoxious and rude and I have reported it to the moderators. What’s your beef? Why can’t you just have a civil conversation?

      • Mischa

        So you say you have depression. Maybe you will find an answer in the functionality and mobility of the AMPA receptor in relation to the NMDA receptor and the combined multi functionality of these two neurotransmitters: Not only the transmission of the major excitatory neurotransmitter but Long Term Potentiation, which is widely thought to be the biological basis of learning and memory. You know, those memories and rumination of abusive events people with these problems were subjected to. The transmission of the NMDA is controlled by Mg. The unknown gum in the works is that there are ‘unconventional modes of NMDA signalling’ both evoked release and spontaneous release:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bby0Gl1iaY

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87PagkjGz0I

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vso9jgfpI_c

        I’m running for cover now before Oldhead gets me.

    • Sorry if that’s true for you, Rachel777, but it’s not true for me. After my first breakdown cost me my job, home and friends, good psychiatric care put me back to work in a job equal to the one I had lost, and I returned to being a happy and self supporting person. (I was NOT on longterm psych meds or in therapy once I got better.) The second breakdown I also returned to full functionality (off meds and out of therapy.) I have written a novel and traveled to NZ and Australia and am quite productive and happy. I will agree not to deny YOUR experience if you agree not to deny mine. I had good doctors, good therapist and proper use of meds. THAT SAID I have also had terrible charlatan doctors who put me on the wrong meds and had horrible hellish side effects. But I got away from those docs and found good ones I am not a helpless victim of ‘psychiatry.’ I also had cancer, defied the docs and did macrobiotics instead of chemo and radiation and instead of dying in 6 months as they predicted I’m still alive and healthy 25 years later. But I have friends who did chemo and radiation and are also alive and healthy years later. There is not one right way to do ANYTHING. If you’re not an idiot, if you’re getting bad care you get away from it, you don’t just settle in as seems to be the millenial style deciding you’re a victim and whinge your way through your screwed up live. That’s unutterably sad. After multiple bouts of depression, cancer and 8 years of CFIDS, I am no one’s victim. I am responsible for my own physical and mental health. I am a free agent. I am also relatively poor so it’s not like I ever had platinum health care either. Some of the best care I got at free clinics and some of the worst at top med centers. I’m not a victim of my financial/social class either. In short, I am not a victim. And as you can probably tell by now my tolerance for people exhibiting that mentality is really, seriously low.

      • @Mischa:

        You sound like a rugged individual. It also sounds to me that you had a life where, despite the problems you have faced, people around you have treated psychiatry as merely a thing which is to get you back on track. You did not have psychiatry used to paint you as a “madman” or to gaslight you, and actually end up make you behave in a way where you seem disturbed. You did not have traumatic occurrences and human-on-human abuse in your life be inadvertently dismissed as illnesses.

        Thank you for your appreciation of my supposedly “brilliant short-note”. Any appreciation of me makes me chuckle and also feel sick at the same time, because at this very moment, the very person I was born to is trying to get to prove that I am insane.

        I am not a “victim” in the sense that I would not senselessly blame individuals for no reason, simply because I can. But I will not simply say that certain wrong things were not done to me, be it advertently or inadvertently. Certainly, simply sitting and doing nothing about it is not the way, but every now and then, I still have moments of weakness. I too am responsible for my own physical and mental health. But that responsibility also entails dealing with people who are harmful to me, whether it is intentionally or unintentionally. Simply accepting everything that you are dealt out because you want to be a rugged individual is being a fool.

        I accept whatever limitations I may have. I do not have the IQ of Einstein. I suffer from anxiety every now and then. But I do not accept being labelled with behavioural labels or wish to rely on the mercy and charity of “mental health professionals” or anyone else for my own well-being, howsoever I choose to achieve it.

  2. Hi Lawrence, good to see you back.

    Nothing here to seriously take issue with, how boring — still, sometimes it’s good to regroup from square one before proceeding further. I guess what I’m saying is that to me some of this is pretty basic, as we’ve been deconstructing “mental health” here for a while. But for those just beginning to toy with these ideas I guess it helps if they hear it coming from a doctor. 🙂

    On the critical side, you switch back and forth from calling “mental illness” a myth and then referring to an “it” that doesn’t exist; in doing so you imply that something essential has been identified and we’re merely arguing about what to call it. Does that make sense?

    Also you seem somewhat ambivalent about the validity of “ADHD” as a category and/or disease. (Your use of the word “likely” is puzzling for one.) And I don’t consider happiness to always be illusory, which I think is a cynical take, but to make it one’s primary goal (at this point in history anyway) is certain to guarantee great disappointment for most.

    • Oldhead makes an important point here. We need to be careful when discussing the myth of mental illness – or any of the psychiatric myths – that we don’t pretend that the myth corresponds to some underlying reality. In other words, we need to make it perfectly clear that there is no such thing as mental illness, or mental health. There is no underlying “it” to argue about. When this is clear, all the nonsense about so-called “bipolar,” “schizophrenia,” “ADHD,” “OCD,” etc. can be eliminated. But it is certainly helpful for doctors to expose the myth for what it is, since many people rely on professional medical opinions as a substitute for thinking.

      • While I agree with the egregious consequences of truth-obfuscating labelling, and the myths of mental illness, there does exist suffering. And sometimes people want to do something about it. Whether it is social interactions, learning skills of various kinds, moving up social classes, making money, VOLUNTARY drug use or otherwise. But I agree that the behavioural professions, a.k.a psychiatry and psychology, are terrible agents to even try to alleviate any kind of suffering. Their role in public life must be severely curtailed. Their monopolistic control of pharmaceuticals, either to force them onto people, or to keep them away from them, or even to give them access based on ridiculous practices, must be curtailed as well.

        Unfortunately, in order to truly help an individual, it takes a lot of sacrifice and even personal risks, on the part of everyday individuals, and even on the part of men and women who are playing the medical role. Risks they would not take out of fear of legal sanctions or even ending up in prison. I don’t believe in reforming the “system”. Every system fails someone. I do believe in the power of an individual to help himself/herself in ways that allow him/her to realise his/her peak potential. It is this ability to help oneself in a manner of their own choosing that the behavioural professions and their allies rob away from individuals.

        • Hmm. You pose the problem of people suffering and needing help, but then pretty much acknowledge that this is not something that psychiatry can help people with. But the reason you raise it in the first place is that, like everyone, you have this subliminal collective meme in your head that whispers “emotional suffering is the specialty of psychiatry,” despite your intellectual realization that psychiatry sucks. This is the kind of internal programming we need to root out and neutralize.

          Psychiatry is commissioned by the system to serve the function of social control, not to help people who are suffering; the only exception is when alleviating suffering strategically serves the maintenance of social control.

          I don’t agree that all systems are equal, but all systems are systems, like all cars are machines, and machines break down when not properly maintained. On the other hand some systems are like the early attempts at flying machines, which due to their aerodynamically unsound designs were inherently destined to self-destruct. When talking about social and political systems the latter are generally the ones most heavily backed up by cops and soldiers, and shrinks.

        • Yes. I get it. Suffering does exist, like registeredforthissite writes, but psychiatry CAUSES a major portion of that suffering. It is also true that people want to help, but very few people understand that one of the best ways to help is to abolish psychiatry. The abolition of psychiatry will bring about more human flourishing and help more people than anything psychiatry could ever devise. Slavery, torture, abuse, drugging, shocking, labeling, incarceration, coercion, force, and oppression do not help people. But this is what psychiatry is all about, from top to bottom, from the beginning to the end, which end will hopefully come soon. Why not go to the source? To the root of the problem? Why all the dancing and tiptoeing around the real issue? The dragon of psychiatry sits in her filthy lair, with piles of wealth that have been amassed from the suffering of innocent children, the homeless, the elderly, and others – and there she rolls around on her bloated belly and laughs. She breathes the fiery myths of “mental illness” until the smoke deceives almost the entire world into a horribly complacency and docility. Enough is enough. The time has come to slay the dragon of psychiatry.

          • Psychiatry is not THE problem, it is a tool of the system, which is the ultimate problem. Though I suspect Dragon Slayer will disagree with that part.

          • Psychiatry serves a couple purposes in our society. It fulfills a societal desire (not need) and poses as the answer to a couple legitimate problems it actually exacerbates.

            One: It enhances the self esteem of “normals.” I may not be a success or a college degree, but at least I’m better than that “schizo” in the corner muttering to himself. Some “crazies” take to their assigned role too–to escape adult responsibilities, act like drama queens, and excuse bad behavior..to name a few.

            Two: Many “crazies” actually think psychiatry is saving them. You talk to folks at Clubhouse, Day Treatment, or NAMI and none ever question that their lives would be infinitely worse or they’d be dead from spontaneous combustion of their imbalanced brain chemicals. (Heads blow up. Just like the Muppets!)

            Three. Our society believes sane people never commit crimes. Therefore psychiatrists are better at protecting the public from violent crimes than the police/courts/and Armed Forces combined. Due to the awesome psychic powers they obtained in med school, shrinks can read minds and foretell crimes before they happen. Just like in The Minority Report. 😛

          • “Psychiatry is not THE problem, it is a tool of the system, which is the ultimate problem. Though I suspect Dragon Slayer will disagree with that part.”

            I would be willing to entertain the notion that psychiatry itself is not the whole problem at the deepest level, although I probably disagree about the source of the problem of psychiatry and how that is connected to other problems in society. That’s ok though. We agree that psychiatry itself IS a problem, and that’s a good start.

            As far as “the system,” I also agree that there are problems on a very basic level, but getting at the roots of these problems requires a lot of intense study and historical perspective. In short, I’m not exactly sure where we disagree, but wherever it is, it is secondary to our agreement regarding the destructive nature of psychiatry.

          • I don’t really think it is so difficult to get to the roots of the problem. Forced treatment? Bad! Freedom? Good! Conformity? Bad! Diversity? Good! Prejudice? Bad! Acceptance? Good!

            Mental health treatment is quasi-legal quasi-medicine. Mental health law essentially transforms madmen and women into outlaws/refugees/prisoners. Legalize madness (i.e. repeal mental health law), and the problem was just legislated away. Civil rights, the conjunction of law and human rights, once again apply.

          • I’d add that a root of the problem is wanting to escape problems or become oblivious of them, rather than dealing with them – either because one doesn’t feel capable of dealing with them, or because it’s just easier to tune out.
            Taking psych drugs that dull one’s sensitivities is one way of tuning out. Getting drunk is another. Getting high is another. Starving oneself (getting anorexic) is another. People have always sought “easy” ways out, for various reasons (the short, long route).

            So, some of them get caught up in psychiatry believing its lies, and then want out, whereas others figure that although the drugs do so much damage, it’s still worth it. I know of one mother who chooses to take anti-depressants even though she knows they dull her emotions and make her “less of a person” if one can say such a thing, because she feels that it’s the only way she can function in her difficult marriage (i.e. not being so aware of her painful feelings). Okay, so better would be to have a productive solution, but some people don’t feel that such an option exists.

            Also, I’d clarify that it’s not just any kind of suffering. It’s more like a feeling that one has failed at life, existential suffering. For my husband, it was preferable to imagine that he was saving the world, to feeling that he was a loser. I have no idea what level of choice he had in adopting interesting beliefs, and I don’t think he has either, but it’s not too hard to identify the basic pattern of this kind of thinking, and to understand where it can lead.

          • Julie, very clear cutted expressed. And Gabi, with Psychosis its a long long way to finally find out why you have it (have had it) but it is possible to heal. You just need to let go of too much burden in the inside and be less engaged with the often terrible things that have or have had or did happen. If you reach that platform, the worrying and panicking feelings do not overwhelm one anymore and one finally gets it and can creat their own healthy World in a strange place much too full of… hm…. slightly disconnected (“to whatever God or Wisdom) people that with their ignorance and sorry stupidiy engage in the emergence of a lot of dirty, ugly and unfortunately cruel things.

          • Just my two cents of causes of in my case psychosis: when I get stressed (many ordinary and non-ordinary life issues together) after a while I regress partly back to my child self of about seven or eight, a time where I watched and read many horror movies and books (thanks to my lovely older brothers). And I get so frightened (mostly unconsciousley) of wearwolves, poltergeists, steven kings clown, and so on, that I dare not to sleep in nighttime or dask and dawn. Which after some time does be a factor for mergence of psychosis… Strangely, it can be quite ordinary experience that result in so-called ‘mental illnesses’.

    • Myths exist. Of course this is a philosophical argument grappling with the meaning of reality and language deconstruction rather than science.

      Hence we can talk about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. They don’t literally exist but they “exist” as figures in popular imagination–even if we know they won’t bring us stuff.

      • True. Of course the difference is that Santa Claus “brings” us presents; the Tooth Fairy “brings” us money; The Easter Bunny “brings” us chocolate and eggs; but what does mental illness “bring” us? Involuntary incarceration, torture, drugging, labeling, abuse, iatrogenic harm, and sometimes death. That is why I came up with a good myth to slay the bad myth. – Slay the Dragon of Psychiatry

  3. Well having no close friends throughout my life I’ll say that mental illness is real. Also because I hear mean voices throughout the day making life intense and painful. And because sometimes it hurts and I can’t stand and need to be admitted to hospital. And because if I go too far off the cliff I become delusional and that is incredibly humiliating and terrifying.

    I hope you post my comment. Only sharing what my journey is like.

    • Sorry you’re so lonely Pat. 🙁

      I’m kind of lonely too. Not telling people I’m supposedly bipolar helps immensely.

      Maybe volunteering, joining a hobby club, or taking a cheap class at a community college or art center would help. If they ask why you don’t work tell them you have chronic fatigue syndrome. That doesn’t scare people like “mental illness” does.

      I have joined a writing group and Toastmasters.

      Thinking about enrolling in Public History at a university and volunteering at a couple museums to start a career as a grant writer/fundraiser.

      • This will for sure take about four days to post but I do work for close to fifteen years. It’s actually very hard but I just tell myself it’s better to be here than home. Than after work nearly everyday I go to lift weights and then Zumba.l class. Been doing this for long time. People definitely notice something different about me at gym being that I talk to myself. At work I try hard not to be too distraught. Then I go home. Work is definitely way harder with symptoms than the gym.

        • But what is truly amazing here is that you actually do this! I would think that it takes some amount of internal strength to keep going. You work, you go to the gym……you don’t just sit home and let the voices take your life over. I suspect from what you say that it’s definitely not easy, but you keep on keeping on. There’s definitely something to be said for that.

      • I know you didn’t mean to be hurtful Rachel, but it takes a certain type of person to understand why some people just don’t feel they can plunge into social situations and break out of loneliness.

        I spent the first 2 decades of my life being told by my parents and others that I was just too shy and “had to stop” being that way. If you never had the (constantly recurring) experience of forcing yourself to go to a social event and then sitting there on the sidelines being ignored by everyone there, then you won’t understand why telling someone to just snap out of it, essentially, isn’t going to help.
        Now, 2 decades later, I came to terms with my loneliness and have ways of dealing with it, which usually don’t include other people, even though I have nothing against (most) people. But as a teenager, my “way of dealing with it” was anorexia (if I can be forgiven for giving it a label – it’s just a convenient way of saying a lot in one word, as long as I won’t be misunderstood though probably I will be).

        Like some people have commented here, being a social success and “happy” among others is seen as a sign of health; being a recluse isn’t. I felt like a total failure even though academically I had no issues whatsoever, and it could have killed me.

        Pat, I’m so sorry and I admire you so much for soldiering on. Something is giving you the impetus to keep going and keep trying – I hope you can build on that and slowly, slowly find a way to counter the mean voices with your own truth – that you are strong, that you are fighting back, that you have a belief in something that makes it worthwhile.

    • Pat, I’m sorry you don’t have anyone there with you to help you thru it and help transform those ‘mean voices’. They have a story to tell, and once I validated, loved and affirmed those mean voices in my wife, they transformed and became such a wonderful, helpful part of her experience now.
      I wish you well,
      Sam

  4. this sounds like a word game…
    when I have an appt with my psychiatrist…
    am I a patient…is he a doctor..
    I like my psychiatrist…he sees me for an hour..
    what should I be telling him about the celexa that I take…
    I am unhappy…why am I unhappy…what should I call
    my unhappiness..

    • Why not call it “unhappiness?” And what I would say to the psychiatrist is “This approach isn’t really working for me. Do you have any other suggestions besides changing medications? What can I do day to day to help manage these feelings?” But don’t be surprised if the psychiatrist, as nice as s/he may be, doesn’t really have any other ideas. Searching the internet for others with similar issues might be more helpful. Hope you find something soon!

  5. I agree with the main point of your article; psychiatry pathologizes disruptive (“non-productive” and “non-conforming”) coping styles- behavior patterns it deems “anti-social”).

    However, I disagree with a common assumption underlying your conclusion that “We are all driven to find ways to adapt — some are called ill and others healthy.” Personal histories and life circumstances are not similar; whether coping styles are considered ill or healthy depends on what experiences people are adapting. There is a reason that the coping skills of cultural leaders are considered healthy while the coping skills of the marginalized and disenfranchised are considered ill.

    When I became disenfranchised from the community, I learned something important about emotions; they are feelings directly related to personal experience. Our culture intellectualizes emotions but emotions are understood physically; affirming feelings of emotional well-being feel happy and distressful experiences feel sad (adverse). I only recognized emotions as physical “feelings” when my previous energetic sensations of happiness were contrasted with the sensation of extreme emotional pain following trauma. My life became so constantly painful that I was hardly able to sense physical trauma; my “coping style” expressed my desperation for relief.

  6. dr kelmenson————I was just thinking…
    you are not going to stamp out the psychiatry thing…
    we the people are the problem…when we are suffering
    we want a quick fix…and we will get it somewhere…
    we the people need to be educated about what might
    deal with the CAUSE of our suffering..
    and suffering is worse than unhappiness..

    when one of us is suffering bad we are going to take a valium no matter whether mental illness is a myth or whatever..

    • Well said, littleturtle. I suspect that you are absolutely correct. Psychiatrists are bad news and yet people run to them for the pills and the false hopes that they offer. Some of us have learned to run away from them but more people need to be educated about the myths of mental illness, chemical imbalances, and being ill for life.

    • Prior to the enlightenment, our suffering was due to our fallen state following Adam’s ouster from Eden. After psychiatry, our suffering is due to bad genes. Suffering is human. Bliss, human, too.

      Perhaps with some gardening equipment, and a stripper with a hot bod? Perhaps not.

      I just think suffering tends to be an option that can be supplanted by other options (i.e. overcome).

        • The pursuit of suffering, on the other hand, let me tell you, is all that it’s cracked out to be.

          Happiness is like a great secret that you wish more people would keep to themselves.

          It’s the little things, some people say, that matter, like observing life in an ant house.

          • “Happiness is like a great secret that you wish more people would keep to themselves.”

            OMG Frank, that made me cackle! When I was in my twenties, I was one of those people who was a Very Perky Morning Person. I was in-between apartments, staying with friends for about 3 weeks, and this was Tammy’s response when I offered her a fresh–baked muffin:
            “Honey, you know I love you, but before I’ve had my coffee you make me wanna drive a spike through your head, okay?”

            Thank you for the laugh!

  7. words are very important….
    a word schizophrenia is used…
    we can eliminate that word…
    what do we have in its place…
    is psychosis appropriate…maybe..
    so lets say psychosis…what causes psychosis..
    probably many things..do we understand psychosis..
    do we know what is causing psychosis in a person..
    I was psychotic one time…I have no idea what caused it..
    I was told it was due to open heart surgery…
    I don’t think we know very much about the cause of psychosis..

  8. I am now reading ANATOMY OF AN EPIDEMIC for the second time…
    it is a disturbing beautiful book….it is making me think that just
    changing the words is not going to be enough…
    and anti-psychiatry has a problem….
    it is trying to eliminate the good with the bad..
    I don’t think that will work…I don’t know what will work..
    maybe the truth…no bs

      • Epiphany: Were all folks antipsychiatry, there would be no “mental illness”.

        The first requirement for receiving treatment (i.e. prescription drugs, etc.) is a diagnostic label. Stop the labeling, and you’ve nipped the problem in the bud.

        Antipsychiatry doesn’t have a problem. Psychiatry has a problem.

        As long as people are not antipsychiatry, you will have “mental health” treatment, and with it “mental patients”, those folks presumed to have “mental health” conditions. With antipsychiatry there is no need for “mental health” treatment because there is no “mental illness”. You just liberate all psychiatric prisoners. How’s that for a radical “cure”!?

        Psychiatry doesn’t just have a problem, psychiatry has many problems, only psychiatry’s problems have human faces and human lives. Those problems keep psychiatry in bread and butter and gated communities. Antipsychiatry is the solution to those many problems. Yin/yang. Instead of many problems, now we have many solutions.

        • I’m not so sure that all “psychiatric prisoners” would welcome being liberated. There are lots of “psychiatric prisoners” who totally believe in their “illness” and fight tooth and nail against any idea of perhaps recovering from their supposed “illness”.

          They clasp their labels fondly to their chests and become indignant when you try to discuss things that they can do to keep themselves from being imprisoned again in the psych “hospital”. I know that you have no love for peer workers and I respect your stand on things but I’ve found that many people trapped in the system and in the “hospital” don’t want to hear about living a life outside of drugs and the system. One young woman stood up last week and screamed at me that she was just a crazy person and that I needed to leave everybody alone about my stupid shit about how to escape the system.

          The only “prisoners” who seem to really care at all about leaving the system are the hard-core, die-hard, non-compliant “patients” who refuse to succumb to the demands of the wonderful treatment team (who pushes the drugs on them as the price they will pay to be able to be discharged from said “hospital”), the kind of “patient” that I have the idea that you were. These are the people that I admire the most.

          Most everyone else may not always like what the “treatment team” demands from them, but they will tell me that they are ill and always will be and that I need to quit bothering them with my “recovery” group because they have no desire to hear it. The room where I try to hold the recovery group is also the craft room, which has a radio in it. When it’s time for group to begin the radio is turned off. Well, last week I was told by two “patients” that I needed to find someplace else to hold the group because they wanted to continue listening to the radio and that I was taking away their right to do what they wanted to do. I have no control over what room is assigned for me to hold the group in and I’m not allowed to cancel the group, unless I’m ill. But this is the usual response to anything dealing with getting out of the system. I’ve battled this attitude for almost eight years now. They’ve drank the Kool-Aid and don’t want to hear anything that requires hard work and responsibility on their parts.

          So, I wonder how many “prisoners” truly want to be liberated from their “prisons”. Somehow, the system has done a much better job at convincing people to accept their message than peers have done in trying to move our agenda forward. This is probably due to the fact that the system got its hands on many of these people when they were kids, before they learned how to be responsible for themselves and about how to actually get jobs and take care of themselves. They demand that they be put on Disability if they are new to the system. The “mental health” system has destroyed tens of thousands of lives with this and people seem to accept it with little or no thought.

          • Most of the people that I read comments from here on MIA don’t sound like the people that I deal with four days a week in the “hospital” where I work. Is it that we here are the hard core non-compliant that I pointed out?

          • I first entered the system before the development of the “treatment teams” of the sort they’ve got today. Once discharged from the hospital the system tended to leave you to your own devices for the most part. That situation has changed, and much for the worse I’m afraid.

            There is another side to the issue, surely, and that side is the side of converts to the religion of “mental illness”, however, it is not my side.

            I would hope that enlightenment through education, that is, consciousness raising, might serve as a means to turn the tide, but as you indicate, the tide is against us for the moment–“stigma busting” campaigns having made the “mental illness” claim almost trendy, and a more popular religious faith perhaps than ever before in the course of history.

          • Well, in a nutshell, your stance is quite simply one of disability denial. If you are, as you explain here, willfully dismissive of the majority of people you encounter, and deem their disability as a moral failing, then how exactly can you in the next breath consider yourself to be a “peer”?

            They are refusing to attend your “recovery” group because you are refusing to acknowledge their disability and believe that you have some kind of magical power to wish away their disabilities through the process of shaming and being condescending.

            In other words, you’re an extremist that refuses to listen to people who do not align with your extremist views.

            Until you bring yourself down from these lofty heights, then my disabled comrades will rightfully shun you.

            Personally, if I encountered someone with your extremist views, I would go out of my way to disrupt each and any attempt you made to persecute the disabled.

            It really is no wonder that they have low regard for your arrogant and unsympathetic approach.

          • Hi Stephen,

            It should come as no surprise that many of those you come into contact with are bought into the system. It’s the only framework they have to explain their misery to themselves, and the prospect of being “cured” from a “disease” offers some plausible hope that their situation will improve. It also gives them a convoluted sense of self-respect to see themselves as “patients” rather than the detritus of capitalism, as well as guaranteed food and shelter (if that’s what you call it).

            To be liberated one has to first understand that he/she is oppressed. There is no room in an institution for such a perspective, and there are repercussions for even suggesting that your guards are indeed guards and not “attendants.” As you know. institutionss are the last places one should look for resistance or AP consciousness, and no conclusions should be drawn regarding the lack of such other than that these are the most powerless people in the psychiatric food chain; their existence depends on knowing the drill and believing in it. It is the duty of those on the outside to speak for those whom we know are unable to think or speak for themselves. We don’t need a public statement of support from those still imprisoned and under psychiatric control to speak for them, especially if we’ve been there ourselves.

            Hope you saw my other message too btw.

          • @SG

            “Is it that we here are the hard core non-compliant that I pointed out?”

            Yep. There is truth and power in the Mad Movement slogan “Recovery begins with non-compliance.” When I first heard this, I instinctively understood its significance -the innate urge to reassert autonomy and reclaim that which Psychiatry has stolen. For people who simply do not get this, their future is just as you describe – placid pawns in a game they cannot control.

            Here is my cartoon take on “non-compliance” http://www.auntiepsychiatry.com/red.aspx?ha=Rebel

            Stephen – I would very much like you to drop me a line by e-mail at: [email protected]

        • Problem-solving through negation of all referents to the problem. What a brilliant idea.

          Think of all the many crises that can be instantly solved. Concerned about climate change? Befuddled about what to do about it? Simples. There is no climate! Now there is no climate, there is no problem. The problem of climate was only ever a construction of science that did nothing more than stigmatise modern life and infuse people with unbearable guilt.

          Frightened by mutual assured destruction? Stuck for a solution? Simples. Efface all words relating to nuclear war and weaponry. Now we simply have metal objects that sit in storage and require a little dusting down from time to time. Just like all the things in your home. Problem solved.

  9. My clarity, grounding, sense of self, and overall well-being improved a great deal when I finally recognized the energy vampirism happening around me, rejected it wholly and unequivocally, transmuted frustration into courage, and then moved toward a more heart-based consciousness and community. When what I was looking for eluded me in the world, I created it myself. We do have that power and privilege.

    • @ Frank

      Problem-solving through negation of all referents to the problem. What a brilliant idea.

      Think of all the many crises that can be instantly solved. Concerned about climate change? Befuddled about what to do about it? Simples. There is no climate! Now there is no climate, there is no problem. The problem of climate was only ever a construction of science that did nothing more than stigmatise modern life and infuse people with unbearable guilt.

      Frightened by mutual assured destruction? Stuck for a solution? Simples. Efface all words relating to nuclear war and weaponry. Now we simply have metal objects that sit in storage and require a little dusting down from time to time. Just like all the things in your home. Problem solved.

  10. @ Frank and Oldhead

    Thanks for responding. Your explanations help me to put things in context when I get down about how things are not going where I work. I believe that you’re right when you say that the people held where I work do not truly realize that they are oppressed since for many of them this is all that they’ve ever known.

    Yes, things have changed, and not for the better when the law got involved with the system so that you’re followed everywhere, no matter what. I know that I’ve made sure to drop out of sight when I was discharged from the “hospital” where I work. I refused to go to their stupid day treatment program but of course I was not court mandated for treatment either. Not being court mandated gives you freedoms you wouldn’t have otherwise to tell the stupid asses off and that they need to mind their own businesses. Who would think to look for me in the very place where I was once held?

    Thanks for your responses.