Why Have Unity When We Can Have Polyphony?

Emily Cutler

When I first found the critical psychiatry movement, I thought it would be like any other social justice movement. I assumed that there were a set of core issues that members of this movement shared similar, if not identical, stances on — for example, the abolition of involuntary commitment and forced treatment, informed consent about the adverse effects of psychiatric drugs and electroshock therapy, and increased access to peer support and alternatives to mainstream psychiatry.

Leading up to my involvement in the critical psychiatry movement, I had spent a great deal of time in progressive and leftist causes ranging from criminal justice reform to campaigning for Bernie Sanders. Within each of these movements, activists shared very similar beliefs and views on the topic at hand. At protests, rallies, and organizing meetings, I would hear the same ideas, platforms, and phrases uttered by almost every individual.

So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that not only does the critical psychiatry movement not revolve around a set of core issues or stances, but that every member of the critical psychiatry movement holds radically different beliefs and views from one another. The critical psychiatry movement is not a structured, top-down campaign but a loose coalition of individuals, each with their own distinctly unique set of opinions and values.

I was, at first, disappointed to learn this. If the critical psychiatry movement was not unified around a set of goals or agenda items — namely, my goals and agenda items — how could anything be accomplished? How would involuntary commitment and forced treatment ever be stopped? How would the public ever fully understand the adverse effects of psychiatric drugs and electroshock? How could people in distress ever be supported in a way that was actually helpful and non-pathologizing?

What I was really wondering — and panicking about — was: if the critical psychiatry movement was not unified, how would I ever really fully be safe from involuntary commitment and forced treatment? How would my friends and family ever come to realize and validate how much I had been harmed by the mental health system? Without unity, I felt that there was no hope for either of these to be accomplished.

My disappointment began to lift when I became the moderator at Mad in America. Being MIA’s moderator means I spend about an hour each day reading every single comment that is posted on our blogs, personal stories, news articles, podcast episodes, and forum. It means I have the opportunity to listen to each of our commenters’ unique stories, experiences, and perspectives. As moderator, I began to develop an appreciation for the richness and diversity of the critical psychiatry movement.

I have long thought that the experiences we consider “madness” — big emotions and expressions of vulnerability and pain — are the very essence of what it means to be human. Unlike the other movements I had been involved in previously, the critical psychiatry movement addresses the very thing that separates us from robots, computers, and inanimate objects: our ability to feel sadness, loss, grief, joy, shame, pride, and anger. In my role at Mad in America, I have learned that there are an infinite number of ways to conceptualize our humanity and what it means to feel these emotions to varying degrees. There are countless ideas, philosophies, frameworks, and opinions about the causes, nature, and meaning of “madness,” as well as how we should respond to it. It is therefore only natural that the critical psychiatry movement is not unified.

As a psychiatric survivor myself, I especially connected with each of the stories I read from other survivors. Every day, psychiatric survivors log in to share some of their most horrific, traumatic memories of abuses that are almost never spoken about elsewhere. Some have experienced endless agonizing physical and emotional pain from the adverse effects of psychiatric drugs or withdrawal; others have lost years of memory due to electroshock treatment; almost all have felt the social rejection and shame of being called “mentally ill.” No single survivor’s experience is like any other survivor’s experience, and no survivor’s way of conceptualizing their experience is like any other survivor’s way of conceptualizing their experience.

It is not easy to be a part of — much less a moderator of — such a diverse community. Each survivor’s experience of the psychiatric system was real and horrific, as is the lasting emotional pain from these traumas. And so, the disagreements that result from differences between survivors’ backgrounds and experiences are very real and very painful. What starts as an intellectual or philosophical debate can quickly become intensely personal. While these conflicts are highly difficult to navigate, it has felt like an immense privilege to bear witness to them.

I developed an even greater appreciation for the diversity within the critical psychiatry movement after a cult-like experience with a Large Group Awareness Training. About a year ago, I wrote an article called “Breaking Free From the Stigma Paradox” describing my involvement with a group that pathologized and shamed any kind of disagreement. In the training, my desire to leave the group and disagreement with its ideology was seen as a sign of just how much I needed to participate in it. That mentality, of course, felt very familiar to me — after all, psychiatry pathologizes those who disagree with their diagnoses and do not want treatment as “lacking insight,” “in denial,” or worst of all, “anosognosia.”

The critical psychiatry movement’s lack of unity allows it to be a space in which people are free to disagree with one another. It may not always be pleasant or comfortable — and sometimes it may be incredibly painful — but to me, that is a worthy trade-off to be able to exist in a space where dissent and debate are active and alive.

The critical psychiatry movement may not accomplish any of the goals I initially came to the movement with. Involuntary commitment and forced treatment may never be abolished. The public may never fully understand the adverse effects of psychiatric drugs and electroshock. Distress may continue to be pathologized and labeled “mental illness” for the rest of humanity.

But that doesn’t mean we aren’t accomplishing anything. Every day, we as a movement accomplish something truly incredible, and in some ways, more radical than any of the goals I mentioned above. Every day, we create a space where each person can freely express their own truth. Without an overarching structure or unifying platform, each individual can stand on their own. Each voice within the community is wholly unique and distinct from any other; each person is their own universe.

In a world that believes our experiences can be neatly and easily categorized into simple categories laid out by the DSM, it is pretty incredible that we have managed to reclaim our individuality and fundamental uniqueness. What creativity, courageousness, and originality that takes! I could not be prouder to be a part of it.

It is in part due to my appreciation for the uniqueness of each voice in this movement that I have decided to become a researcher. At the end of the month, I will be stepping down as the moderator of Mad in America, and I am thrilled to announce that Steve McCrea, a long-time contributor to the MIA community whose work to advance critical psychiatry ideas is greatly respected, will be taking my place as moderator. In the fall, I will be pursuing my PhD in Behavioral and Community Sciences at the University of South Florida. I will be researching the topics of mad studies and involuntary commitment under the critical psychiatry scholar Nev Jones. It is my goal that my research will capture and elevate all of the unique voices and perspectives of psychiatric survivors and others with lived experience of distress, difference, and the behavioral health system.

I am thrilled to announce my first research study, “Polyphony in Activism: Capturing the Voices of Advocates and Activists with Lived Experience of Mental Difference and/or Mental Health Treatment.” The study is a survey that will seek to understand how experiences of mental difference and behavioral or mental health treatment impact activist involvement or agendas. I hope that the survey will capture the multitude of experiences, perspectives, stories, and values that make up our community. You are all invited to participate; click here or see below to find out more information.

As a final note, I want to thank all of you for everything I have learned from you. One of the best things about being part of such a diverse movement is that every voice and perspective is new and unlike anything else that has come before. Every comment and forum post on Mad in America has taught me something new and helped me gain new insight into the human condition, and I cannot express enough gratitude for that. Long live the dissent, debate, and fragmentation. Long live the polyphony.


  1. Generally, the question asked was, in my opinion, answered by the war between the states, which is to say, that I think you are obfuscating. This is another reason why, in opposition to an expanded critical psychiatry movement, or any kind of psychiatric system expansion, we need a strong and determined antipsychiatry movement. Polyphony in the arts, in music and literature, is one thing, polyphony in political action (divide and conquer/bread and circuses) is base rhetoric and hypocrisy.

    “The critical psychiatry movement may not accomplish any of the goals I initially came to the movement with. Involuntary commitment and forced treatment may never be abolished. The public may never fully understand the adverse effects of psychiatric drugs and electroshock. Distress may continue to be pathologized and labeled “mental illness” for the rest of humanity.”

    Certainly, if one is not serious about ones aims, one is not serious about accomplishing them, and, certainly, if those goals are not what one really wishes to accomplish, perhaps one is more of a ‘states’ rights’ person than a ‘unionist’. Did we really just get rid of one form of slavery merely to accommodate another? Darn! Where is our John Brown when we need him? Rather than being stalled and deflected, as in this instance, the matter (abolition) needs to be brought to a head.

    • I agree, Frank. Diversity of race, economic class, background, experiences is not only good but inevitable.

      But without unity in purpose we’ll achieve nothing. Like a rowboat with half rowing one way and half another. Unless emotional support is all we are after and unending healing.

      How do you define “critical psychiatry” Emily?

      I consider myself anti-psychiatry, though I believe folks should be allowed to make a choice as long as no deception is involved. For example, selling heroin to a diabetic by calling it insulin is not an informed choice on the diabetic’s part to use the drug.

      I was lied to for years. Never involuntarily locked up. Always took my drugs. Had “good insight” by never questioning my “healers” or the stigmatizing labels they slapped on me. I was deceived and violated. Not a real choice at all!

  2. Do you really feel the worthwhile effort I often wondered about this one? Man I am tonight rnjobi going to review this. Oh come off it man we say to our coworkers as we debate this. I’m specifically interested in getting to know more about this one pt. Going to find website that lists ten or more points that underscore values of this movement. Always a good or sufficient route to take and to invest energy in educating on the topic.

  3. The heroes here unleashed advocacy pretty much years ago but really they didn’t know avenues he goes to find huge ideas needed for systemic change. Until proven this is my avenue. It’s ok. That’s sophistication actually and even faith if not happening so begin researching and researching then research more. It‘s not self indulgence or self serving. It’s the proper channel in so that we can get to know a topic. I’m glad author wrote this blog.

  4. Oh Emily.

    There is no “critical psychiatry movement.” This seems like an attempt to somehow justify the overriding contradiction between the information MIA puts out — which shows clearly that psychiatry is a destructive and fraudulent practice which should be abandoned — and its desire to court favor with liberal elements within the “mental health” profession.

    I feel that it is disingenuous to talk about a “movement” which exists only in the minds of those who see the pursuit of “critical psychiatry” as a career move, or something close. To start, a “movement” must have goals; what is the goal of a “critical psychiatry movement” if not to eliminate psychiatry? To “improve” it? Who are the spokespeople for this “movement”? Can they articulate a coherent description of their aims and analyses?

    I’ll be waiting. Meanwhile I will stipulate that the only thing close to a real movement to be found amid these MIA discussions is the ANTI-psychiatry movement. And even that is hanging by a thread.

    I’d be interested in seeing those posting here who consider themselves ANTI-psychiatry (by any definition) identify themselves as such.

    • Emily, despite our pretty clear disagreements on matters such as the above, I want to thank you for your hard work and commitment to making MIA discussions accessible to all (well, almost all) points of view without undue bias in favor of staff beliefs or MIA’s editorial line. While there are exceptions to this I find the general direction of the moderation here to be absolutely positive, and thank you for your sincere responses to the concerns I have brought up with you on occasion.

      Hoping that with some time to think things over you will come around to an anti-psychiatry position eventually. I assume you’ll be posting here on occasion? Anyway good luck with whatever you do next; I’m sure you’re not going to be too far from a computer so look forward to reading your dispatches.

      I’m sure Steve will be an excellent successor btw, and welcome him to his new position as MIA moderator.

    • If there were actually a “critical psychiatry” movement, it would be playing a small part in the “mental health” movement, a movement that is based entirely upon the myth of “mental illness”, through it’s obverse, the myth of “mental health”. We could more fittingly call it a medicalization movement because it is all about treating with medicine anything that doesn’t belong, properly speaking, in the medical sphere. The “mental health” movement is about expanding the “mental health” system, or what has been referred to as the psycho-pharmaceutical industrial complex. It is not really a “mental health” movement at all, it is a “mental health” treatment movement. I’d say that that is the movement we really need to seriously resist and oppose. Give human beings the right, the legal right, to refuse “mental health” treatment, and you’ve nipped that more than little, that big bad movement, the “mental health” movement, in the bud.

  5. And Emily, I DO have to agree with everything Oldhead magnificently stated above. I understand perfectly the impulse to accrue as much formal education, credentialling, and subsequent, “respectability” as we can. Even many of us lowly nutcases have this drive within us. But I can gaurantee you that while you’re pursuing your formal studies, efforts are going to be made to pump your head full of all the filthy, crooked, medical model pigshit which professionals and, “advocates,” condone as being, “necessary,” but which is the bane of patients’ lives. I’ve long said that graduate school professors should be put in front of firing squads for their crimes against humanity,(us.) Please seriously consider the points Oldhead has made. By the way, I’ve completed yours and Nev Jones’s survey on patienthood and activism.

  6. When Black Panthers Party were to defend their people they used the smile and essays….
    It is very hard to explain why movements against psychiatry will fail, it is so complex.
    The main reason is because people do not feel respect towards psyche. This is why:

    1. They didn’t read Hillman and Szasz.
    1. They won’t read it.

    If someone ask me how could someone give attention to psyche, and how to do it, I would say that psyche need Dionisian/Hades ruler who will defend psychological traits rather than getting rid of them. THIS IS LOGICAL, ISN’T IT?

    You must reverse the meaning of apollonian ego traits, and to understand what means apollonian ego, you must read Hillman Re- visionig psychology and Szasz.
    The Apollonian state must stand on the head.
    To give psyche the meaning, the proper meaning, you must build the respect towards death, not like today, we live as if death does not exist, and that is why it exists more than ever. You must destroy theological vision of psyche, because theology is not psychology. THEOLOGY COMPLETELY REJECT PSYCHE, BECAUSE nature of the psyche IS PAGAN.

    1.To build respect towards psyche people must use another kind of perception, another kind of language and to accept the mythical reality (LOGIC OF THE PSYCHE) in the place of EGOIC scientism/medicine/pseudo medicine (apollonian EGO religion/ego psychopathy)

    2.To build respect toward psyche, apollonian traits of character must be in the proper place of the psychological hierarchy, not like today in the center.OF THE PSYCHE. AND APOLLONIAN ARCHETYPE IS THE LEAST PSYCHOLOGICAL ARCHETYPE, and this is why they are so cruel towards psyche LOGIC.

    They steal the REAL/PHENOMENOLOGICAL meaning of the psyche and replace it with false empirism to build their hegemony over the rest psychological parchetypes, that is why people called autistics and schisophrenics are being killed –they are PSYCHOLOGICALLY beyond apollonian ego assumptions.


    3. In the center of the psyche there is death, so it also reverse the meaning of life and materialistic world. Death/respect for death/ must be in the center of life, not in the coffin.

    4. Destruction of the DSM is indisputable. In that place ought to be phenomenology of the psyche with psychological hades in the center.

    To give the meaning to the the psyche, means to destroy the hegemony of apollonian ego, which is in the center of the state. In the center supposed to be psychological Hades TRAITS.



    This is not the state, this is inquisition appartus. And you must read Szasz Manufacture of madness, to understand that. THIS IS PURE LOGIC.

    Without reading Szasz and Hillman (as many books as you can) no one will understand about what I am talking about.
    I do not believe in the state in which the currency are the money. The currency is the meaning, and the money are just the money.

  7. And when you will know the cause, the suffering will end…. Your thinking is a trap.The thinking about suferring is a trap greater than the suffering itself. Erroneous thinking about the essence of the psychological suffering is the main activity of the psychiatry. You are searching for answers, but forget about the meaning of the suffering itself.
    The meaning is the worth.

  8. Emily, I have appreciated your words and wish. you the best of luck? Why not Canada with Bonnie? And why go into academia when tenure is still such a ongoing problem?
    I have seen multiple sides of the MH system and find it now totally broken. Apartheid in some ways.
    In the past there were some as I was awoke professionals but we were still blind to slot of the abuses. As in any tyrannical government state there are good people. So often and so tragically it is sheer luck that one bumps into them.
    If you have not been forced hospitalized or pushed into an ER visit which usually ends in being escorted in a wheelchair with security you truly cannot begin to comprehend the experience. Or waking up in a seclusion room with no one telling you how it happened or why and with s nurses aid saying they are putting you into a nursing home.
    But kudus for trying to understand at least admit that some things will be forever beyond your kien. We will not hold that against you as mother mostly do not hold females who choose to not have children against them at least I do. Differences and heterogeneity are important and vital for growth.
    Saul Alinsky was aware of this.
    I looked st the survey and no. Been there done that – even enrolled in a NIMH before I rewoke. Not the best way to make change though ah it is alluring. The psychiatrist at Boring old man website -despite his elitism – was the best at debunking the ghost written research.
    As to your musical metaphor. In my area we have The Gathering Place that caters to anyone touched by cancer. No docs no dx anyone – whether you choose to have treatment or not – free services to all
    Mixing at times of most yoga and other classes and events. You are just you without a label of patient or caretaker or partner – whatever. I think it is a lovely model.
    I wrote up a replication in terms of trauma and sent it to the Board and the orgininatir of that program was on the board. She knew me and at least some of my cancer ties. Nada nada nada.
    This model would have by passed the medication and labeling issues for all. It removed them from the playing field. My guess is too scary. NAMI is so big in my area and I have been hounded.
    Giving free Reiki at a church with a NMA I group they had to come and give me their speil Mentsl Illness is like Diabetes. Nice folk but so ignorant and so very very uninformed. I know folks with Diabetes on a personal and once professional level. Not a good connection. In fact there was once a teen who wanted to stop her insulin the medical staff let her do it. Eventually she changed her mind but when I was in my seclusion rooms I thought of her freedom of choice often
    One complaint and this is for Dteve when a comment is removed the writer should get an explanation. It also would be helpful to track the why if it wafting a trigger and how to handle readings that can induce anger.
    An angry response place that can be put on hold and then renegotiated or voluntarily removed after 24 hours.
    Good luck in life.

  9. Hi Emily and everyone.

    After reading MIA for a while, it is this post that has encouraged me to be part of the collected voices of Mad in America. Like most here, I’m a psych-survivor who has experienced terrible harm through seeking help for distress, and likewise, further opression and abuse through trying to find a way out of the consequences of my experiences of oppression and abuse.

    I have been involved in different kinds of political activism over years and have come to feel cynical about pseudo-consensus processes that always felt essential to achieving goals. It seems to me that any gains achieved through such ‘pragmatic’ processes were insubstantial and primarily served the empire-building goals of cliques within movements rather than the ‘rank and file’.

    I don’t have any answers, I don’t know what to do to be part of stopping the terrible harms caused by the “mental health” systems, or what approach or strategy is best. But what I do feel I know is that I don’t want to be a part of inadvertantly recreating the very oppressions that the movement is trying to fight against, even if they are apparently more benign forms of them.

    I respect that MIA doesn’t seem to impose an illusion of consensus on those who speak here.

  10. Emily
    Thanks for the reply. That is vital to building community. Victim yes but one needs to know there are other roles- POWS are not POWS forever they were prisoners , the Japanese Americans in interment camps eventually got out. We the living owe the others a voice and enemy lingers in the victim identity- issues. Maybe a new name ? Once the border crisis is over what role name will we give tbe children? I could go on and on.
    What does give me hope is Emma Lazarus. She was not only a poet but a Social Worker in the tentements of New York City.
    She developed cancer. In those days cancer was not treated in tbe hospital – stigma and all that. Her frien Tose Hawthorne Nathaniel Hawthorne’s daughter took care of her. After Emma died Rose became a nun and started a freeHospice program for terminally ill cancer patients.
    Society and medicine eventually changed so that cancer was not considered an anethema.
    Steven Biko died but his voice helped dismantle. apartheid.
    The abolitionist and suffergette movements wow centuries ?
    And btw an underground railway or Martha transportation line would be great baring that letter writing. I feel the safest with that.

  11. Hi Emily

    Your more direct presence here will be SORELY missed, both as a moderator and your decision making presence on the future editorial and political direction of MIA.

    I share Oldhead’s basic points in response to the essence of your blog. When it comes to music the term “polyphony” has a clear meaning and application. BUT as to politics and making Revolutionary change in the world, I believe it only has a very limited meaning and application. To make a “principle” out of “polyphony” in political activism has the very real danger of promoting “relativism” – there are no “absolute truths” at any given historical time that require necessary and decisive action in the real world, including in the area of establishing humane “laws” that end certain harmful institutions, behaviors and practices.

    I would also say that I detected a certain amount of pessimism in your blog regarding the future possibility of real Revolutionary change in the world. At the very least it (big change) came across as very remotely distant, and this could be related to your emphasis on the need for “polyphony” in future political discourse and activity in the world.

    HOWEVER, after just now (I must have missed this when it first came out) reading your past blog on your horrible cult experience with “Large Group Awareness Training,” I now more fully understand some of the evolutionary development of your philosophical and political approach to things.

    My reaction to this blog on the LGAT experience is, HOLY SHIT!!! what a horrible traumatic experience. Not only did this group traumatize you with their oppressive cult group/think methods, but they most likely totally destroyed the relationship you had with your then, fiance. I am so sorry you had to endure this, and in some ways it sounds as bad, or almost as bad, as what you experienced with this oppressive “mental health” system.

    The LGAT group sounds very much like the cult, Scientology. And if you had continued with them you might have experienced even greater thought control and coercive methods employed by them at higher levels. AND they would have definitely taken a lot more of your money to boot (once again, the negative role of the profit motive f$#king things up in the world).

    I refuse to call Scientology a “church,” and I am very dismayed at some commenters here at MIA that continue to minimize the danger of Scientology, given all their monetary, property, and legal resources that are very much at their disposal.

    Emily, I hope to maintain contact with you, especially when I spend more time in your area of Florida (in the winter months) while you attend school there. I would like to meet some of the other ‘critical psychiatry” and/or “anti-psychiatry” people in that area, and hopefully engage in educational endeavors, social activities, and other forms of direct political action. My brain tends to turn to “mush” when I am in Florida, and I need more provocative political stimulation to prevent that from happening and to be a part of some radical movement activities.

    All the best, Carry on! Richard

    • As far as I am concerned, psychiatry has to be stopped. Did anyone talk about reforming the Nazis movement?

      There is the movement and there are individuals involved in it. We have witnessed a handful abandon the psychiatry ideology and come to join us. We see examples of this daily here on MIA, not just patients who once believed wholeheartedly in “diagnosis,” but practitioners who suddenly see the light.

      Psychiatry must be stopped. I think there’s hope for individuals, though, as more and more are having the same epiphany. But not the practice of psychiatry, which has to end. We don’t know how that will happen. Will it be overthrown or will so many abandon it (patients especially) that it crumbles? Possibly both.

      • Patients need to see the light and hopefully abandon it. A new profession that incorporates elements of a Ph.D. degree in psychology coupled with limited training in psychopharmacology needs to be created in order to fill the void in care that will inevitably result. Psychiatrists don’t use 99% of what they studied in medical school. Specializing in psychiatry is a complete waste of a perfectly good medical degree.

  12. I don’t so much view MIA as a movement in itself as a forum where 2-3 separate movements can dialogue.

    There’s the Anti-Psychiatry Movement.

    Then the Critical Psychiatry Movement which can be subdivided into the Moderates and Conservatives. The Moderates believe psych labels are empowering and psych meds can be life-saving, beneficial, nutritious and character building but no one should be forced to take them. The Conservatives oppose beatings and lack of hot meals and beds in psych wards/institutions but think things are otherwise fine.

    Consider me anti-psychiatry. Do any other like-minded folks know why we can’t start our own website or forum? They aren’t that expensive to set up.

    • Actually the “conservatives” AND “moderates” in your terms are equally dangerous, the “moderates” perhaps more so as they are presented as the “good guys,” while promoting psychiatric control in a more insidious way.

      Recent discussions among anti-psych survivors, both on MIA and elsewhere, have gotten hung up in defining anti-psychiatry. Specifically, most anti-psychiatry survivors tend to identify themselves as “abolitionists” (a term which, as I mentioned above, also has several connotations). However, a not insignificant minority consider themselves “anti-psychiatry” but not “abolitionists” (though the term remains largely undefined); their concern centers on “civil liberties” aspects of psychiatric oppression, rather than, for example, seeking to end the legitimization of psychiatry as a field of medicine. So, even among those who have come to a personal “anti-psychiatry” position, there are real differences as to what this means, which have to date substantially hindered the development of a working consensus. The latter is necessary for a network or organization to focus on specific goals and projects. I don’t know the answer to this conundrum, other than to continually fine-tuning our analyses, goals and approaches until there is a critical mass of AP survivors prepared to say “these are the principles we share, and these are our unified goals and demands.”

      Good to see you i.d. yourself as AP. I see no reason why this sort of discussion can’t be continued on MIA. Also, if you have an email or something you can post publicly, I or someone will make sure you are contacted should there be any further rumblings along these lines.

  13. I would have to say I agree with Oldhead, too. MIA encourages dialogue but where is the action? I have been worried that those participating at MIA waste too much time “discussing” the issues. Any real action is done outside of MIA, in other groups, even done by individuals. I fear that the dialogue part sucks people in, becomes habitual for many, and ultimately, causes stagnation or even apathy.

    I have never used the term “critical psychiatry.” Where the heck did that come from? Are you putting words into our mouths? I can’t do the survey. I’m not a participant in a movement I have barely heard of, not a willing one, anyway.

    • How do we challenge outside of this context with facts when we just get moderated off places which really matter (the wider public) such as the guardian –

      My comment removed from the Guardian on this piece –


      “Neither the photographer nor the publisher nor you Sean O’Hagan have any real idea as to the truth behind mental health.

      “Justin was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when he was 20.”

      Now watch this Louis Quail, Dewi Lewis and Sean O’Hagan –

      Dr James Davies: The Origins of the DSM:


      It is the very drugs (psychiatric drugs) and alcohol that cause these issues and the labels – amongst wost of all ‘paranoid schizophrenia’ – which perpetuate a vile lie and now we have photo imaging reinforcing this stereotypical view of ‘mental illness’

      Go study Pharmacogenetics Louis Quail, Dewi Lewis and Sean O’Hagan and watch this :


      You show them smoking, did you know that the cigarette smoke activates the enzymes that metabolise the antipsychotic drugs which gives relief not from any illness but the very drugs people given these lables are forced to take. Did you know that these drugs shrink the brian causing vascular dementia.


      Drug induced Dementia by Grace E Jackson


      Antipsychotics and brain shrinkage Joanna Moncrieff :


      Did you know Dewi Lewis that Rhonda Wilson someone you knew probably died of drug induced akathisia and not severe depression/anxiety.

      The truth behind the number one first line drug prescribed for schizophrenia: Risperidone –


      and a reply asking how akathisia kills people, my comments were removed after posting this answer –



    • It is my believe that this website exists to distribute information to anyone who wants to resist psychiatric hegemony in any way possible. It is not an “action site” in the sense of planning some specific action to combat psychiatry. I see the value in the comments section to be that people can take from it what they want.

      It’s important to remember that some people who come here are just barely on the verge of awareness that psychiatry is dangerous or misguided, some are well-versed in the challenges of the DSM and the medical model but still have hope in the creation of some other means of providing support, and some are focused on the political struggle of complete deconstruction and elimination of psychiatry. ANY of these people from ANY of these groups can get together and plan some kind of action. I am part of a couple different groups, one of which educates people about the realities of the current system and helps people consider getting off of drugs, the other of which is very much focused on the destruction of psychiatry’s power base.

      My hope is that MIA assists in informing people and bringing people together to take action in their own communities or nationally or around the world. MIA doesn’t appear to me to have the specific purpose of promoting a particular action agenda. As a result, I don’t expect MIA to assume a particular editorial position or to organize any particular action (though I’d be happy if it did). It seems to me that it’s my job and my community’s job to create that kind of action, and that a wide range of actions can be helpful in making our society less oppressive and more responsive to the needs of its citizens.

      • Hi Steve. Nothing to really argue with here.

        However, MIA has in the past gone to what I consider absurd extremes to disavow any “official” position on anything, except for supporting “critical psychiatry.”

        Two years ago on the July 4th holiday, Murphy et al. took advantage of the break to sneak the Murphy Bill through the House of Reps. while no one was looking or aware. I remember frantically attempting (along with “Surviving & Thriving”) to get MIA to at least post an announcement that this was happening, to no avail; we were told that this was not MIA’s purpose. I still think this was ridiculous and irresponsible on MIA’s part. There has to be some acknowledgement by MIA that it takes SOME moral positions on matters affecting its “constituency.”

    • Littleturtle I am anti-psychiatry. However one of the reasons psychiatry came to power is a lack of compassion and emotional support in our communities and families. With its “diagnoses” psychiatry only breeds further loneliness and alienation.

      So yes psychiatry does need a replacement. In a word–Love.

        • It is what people seek when they enter it and why they refuse to leave.

          Like a woman who refuses to leave her abusive lover. He has cut her off from friends, isolating her from the world and making her dependent on him alone.

          Every now and then he brings her flowers and candy. The rest of the time he’s a monster.

          But she quit her job long ago. Economically, emotionally, and socially dependent she clings to the illusion of his love for her.

          Something similar happens when you enter the MI System. You are segregated by your labels so your only relationships are with other MI members. Shrinks and therapists will frequently forbid your seeking gainful employment. Constant put downs and reminders of how sick and crazy you are undermine whatever shreds of dignity you still might have.

          Psychiatry is an abusive relationship.

          • I agree. It is abuse. So often, abused spouses think they’re the disordered ones (this being an element of abuse) and they take themselves to therapy. “What is wrong with me?”

            Therapy may give the abused spouse an outlet. But she gets labeled. He doesn’t. He can use the therapy visits as further reason to label her the nutso, and exonerate himself, washing his hands clean. His sick wife. While she continues to take her story to the therapist.

            But where do her powerful words end up? Wasted in an office! Her words belong in court, do they not? Or anything she can do to get away.

          • But that isn’t true, either. Abuse and love aren’t opposites. Abuse isn’t the absence of love. The two have no relation to each other. You can love your wife and beat her daily anyway.

            Love will not stop abuse, either, since one doesn’t contradict the other. Conversely, abused kids very often adore their abusive parents. Or worship them as in Stockholm Syndrome.

            If I were to ask a heathcare practitioner to stop abusing me, I might tell that person to stop gaslighting, or to stop shoving me, or to stop cutting me off mid-sentence, or to listen instead of putting words into my mouth. Or to let me out of restraints, or please don’t give me any “treatments” I don’t want.

            I notice abusive healthcare professionals will deny the abuse and therefore, gaslight, even boast about the great “care” they’re giving you, and also act sweet and kind in front of any potential witnesses.

            Some act super professional in front of supervisors and colleagues, but when you are alone with them with no witnesses they are anything but professional.

            One therapist told me he loved me. It was warped and perverted, and had nothing to do with caring or decent therapy.

          • The analogy with domestic abuse is quite apt. This from a person who has extensively worked with and supported hundreds of domestic abuse survivors over the last 30 years. Gaslighting, blaming, threats, abandonment, manipulation, charm – it’s all there.

  14. Congrats to you both, Emily, and Steve.

    Emily: I don’t know a lot about your work (yet), but from what I do know, I think you will be a force to be reckoned with in the movement against our society’s current “mental health” model.

    Steve: I always appreciate your comments that are so well thought out and written, as well as full of compassion, and I’m glad to see you are taking on a bigger role here at MIA.