Thar’s A New Sheriff in Town!

Steve McCrea
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As a longtime participant in the conversations here on Mad in America, I’m very excited about taking over Emily’s role as moderator for the MIA discussion boards. MIA considers the community discussions to be integral to its mission to serve as a forum for “rethinking psychiatry,” and I am assuming this role at a time that the organization, in response to the reader survey we conducted, is striving to make the discussions more welcoming to all.

As a brief introduction, I’m a former “mental health professional” who never really believed in the DSM, the “medical model” or psychoactive drugs as a solution for mental/emotional distress. For reasons I won’t get into here, I had a rather sad and isolated childhood and experienced a lot of what might today get diagnosed as “Social Anxiety Disorder” and “Major Depressive Disorder.” School, in particular, was a very anxious place for me, and I did everything I could never to have to speak out loud in class. After making some improvements on my own, I was fortunate to engage with a very capable therapist in the late 1970s, before the DSM-III and the “label, drug and dismiss” model had become the cultural force it is today. As a result, I became very interested in the process of helping people deal with childhood adversity and difficult social situations, and ended up getting into the world of “emotionally disturbed” teen moms, despite my having an undergrad BA in Chemistry and a MS in Education.

When I started out in a “residential treatment” setting for teen moms in 1983, exactly ZERO of our clients were taking any kind of psychiatric drug, and there was never any discussion of “diagnosis.” We used a “positive peer culture” model that taught good communication skills and taught the residents to be more assertive and intentional in how they lived their lives. By the time I got to the point that I couldn’t take it anymore (about 12 years later) and went into advocacy, “residential treatment” residents were drugged at over a 50% rate. And in about 2005, when I was doing some research in the interests of protecting foster youth from random drugging, I discovered that 80% of kids in “residential treatment” were being given psychiatric drugs. Zero to 80% in just over 20 years. And the kids’ behavior seemed worse than ever!

Knowing from personal experience how a person (aka me!) could move from “disordered” to very high functioning over time by a combination of good therapy, sharing my story, reading lots and lots, developing new strategies for dealing with the crazy world we inhabit, surrounding myself with sane people, and challenging myself to do things I’d never thought I could do, and seeing how “treatment” had meanwhile deteriorated from listening and empowering to labeling and drugging, it became apparent how important it was to challenge the current paradigm at every turn in the road. So here I am.

So now to the topic at hand: comment moderation at MIA.

One of the reasons I’ve come to love posting here at MIA is because of the wide range of opinions and data brought in both by the articles and by posters in the comments sections following. I personally find the comments at times even more educational than the articles themselves.

That being said, feedback from readers and my own observations lead me to the conclusion that the comments section can be a rough place to hang out. Some of this is inevitable — we are talking about issues that are highly complex, highly emotional, and that challenge the accepted mythology of the mainstream culture. Anyone expecting to enter into such an arena and have things be neat and tidy is going to be disappointed. There is such a range of different objectives evident! Some people want to abolish psychiatry and any other professional psychological “treatment” altogether, some want to focus on eliminating forced “treatment,” some believe it’s possible to salvage what is workable from the wreckage. Some believe that reforming the system is possible and desirable. Some just want to tell their stories, some are focused on getting off the drugs and/or escaping “treatment,” and others are just trying to survive the system as it is. And some come in to defend the current system as it is, because they feel it is working for them. One of the great strengths of the MIA community is that a wide variety of voices can be heard here, and whether we agree or not with these diverse opinions, it provides a great opportunity in particular for the voices of those harmed by the system to be heard.

On the other hand (and this is true of any online community I’ve ever known), discussions can sometimes deteriorate into personalized name-calling, accusations of foolishness or stupidity, or gross generalizations about groups of people that are offensive or simply rude and thoughtless. Such comments tend to drive away people who might otherwise be valuable contributors to our discussions. That is why moderation is important.

It is true that the ideas expressed on this site may drive certain people to avoid us, and that is because these ideas, or presentations of fact, provide a critical view that they find difficult to reconcile with their own beliefs. In a big-picture way, MIA presents a “narrative” regarding psychiatry that is completely at odds with the conventional narrative, and clashing narratives always provoke heated emotions. And I have no intention of editing or censoring posts based on the possibility that the ideas expressed may make other people uncomfortable.

However, it is possible to engage in even the most difficult conversations in a way that respects and welcomes different opinions and viewpoints, and that is our goal here. Our mission is to promote a “rethinking” of the current model, and do so while welcoming every possible viewpoint. That includes welcoming the “abolitionist” viewpoint that the only solution is to eliminate the current system and/or start over.

So here’s the deal. I will NEVER edit or moderate ANY comment based on the ideas that are expressed, provided that they meet our requirements that comments be civil in tone. People can say they love the system and they’d die without their drugs. Other people can say that they see psychiatric drugs as an evil force, marketed by drug companies that only care about their profit margins. I will respect any and all ideas that are presented respectfully and honestly.

And I’d like all of you to do the same. That’s what I’m asking of commenters — to respect any person having the courage to post their views, even if you totally disagree with their viewpoint and see their opinion as uninformed or even dangerous. You are welcome to present evidence and experiences and logical arguments to critique or counter any argument that is presented. But you’re not allowed to attack the person presenting their views.

Hence, the posting guidelines.

I’d like to highlight three key points that seemed to come up the most during my two-week trial run as moderator in early June.

First: personal attacks. Obviously, we can’t accept calling people names of any sort. But there are more subtle ways to attack someone. For instance, saying “that is the dumbest comment I’ve ever seen!” is pretty much the same as saying “the commenter is dumb.” Personal attack — not gonna fly. And it doesn’t matter if your insult is “true” or if “he insulted me first.” The only question to ask yourself is: “If someone said that to me, would I potentially find it personally insulting?” If so, rephrase. Or just don’t say it.

This is different from logically attacking the CONTENT of a comment. For instance, you might say: “Your comment doesn’t appear to be based on any kind of studies or data.” Or “That comment sounds very similar to the propaganda put out by the drug company.” But saying “You’re a drug company shill” will get your message removed with a friendly reminder from me about the guidelines.

The key point here is: critique the message or the concept with facts, experiences or logic, but don’t attack the person him/herself.

Second: insulting generalizations about groups of people. This one’s a lot more subtle. Sometimes.

Obviously, anything sounding like “Black people do X” or “White people are always Y” or “gay people suck” is going to get cut, every time, no questions asked. But what about generalizations about, say, “bipolar people can’t be trusted?” Or “psychiatrists are all evil?” (Really? EVERY psychiatrist? What about Peter Breggin? What about Joanna Moncrieff? What about the guys who run the Open Dialogue program in Finland? Or the other psychiatrists who write on MIA?) Some of these generalizations (especially about people with DSM labels!) are used very regularly in our culture and may not even be noticeable unless we’re looking. But again, stick to critiquing the IDEAS and the DATA and sharing your experiences, and don’t make generalized statements about groups of people, because all groups are composed of individuals, and one of the main thrusts of psychiatric critiques is that we need to treat people like individuals. We need to do that among ourselves.

In particular, I want to be very sensitive to anyone who has participated (voluntarily or by force) in the system. The use of psychiatric drugs by recipients is very, very complicated. Some have been coerced and are legally compelled to use these drugs. Some have been intentionally or unintentionally deceived by the mythology and pressure that pervades the system. It’s really not OK to attack those who are (wittingly or not) victimized by the psychiatric system, whether through propaganda, manipulation or coercion. Everyone has the right to his/her own story, and some stories are that a person finds the system helpful or finds it impossible or impractical to escape at this particular time. Listen compassionately, and don’t criticize the person for getting enmeshed in the complicated dynamics of the system. I’d strongly suggest that you direct your passionate resistance toward those who set up the system that created those dynamics in the first place.

And it is important to remember that some have engaged voluntarily in the system and found it helpful. This may be hard to accept if you feel you have been invalidated, attacked or severely harmed by the system, but some people don’t have that experience at all. Some (like me) have found psychotherapy very helpful in sorting out their lives. Some value CBT, DBT, nutritional approaches, meditation or religious practice and find it essential to their current well-being. And some have found and continue to find psychiatric drugs helpful, and either experience little in terms of adverse effects, or feel that the benefits are worth the cost. Whatever an individual’s story or experience with the system, positive, negative, or mixed, we need to respect that this has been their experience, even if ours has been very different. Again, this is not to say that such people can’t be challenged to understand the research, or understand that not every person has had a similar experience or that you believe that the evils of the system so far outweigh the benefits that abolition of psychiatry is the only viable solution. But everyone is entitled to tell their own story and have it respected as such.

Professional people (and I am one of these) have at times found the MIA commenting environment more than a bit rugged. And while I absolutely intend to apply the same rules and expectations that comments be respectful when they are in response to writings by professionals, I’d nevertheless recommend that anyone who has been a service provider be prepared to be challenged vigorously and with passion. Many MIA commenters have been hurt by the system, and some would say that their lives have been destroyed. As such, it is reasonable to expect intense emotions, including anger and rage, expressed toward the psychiatric system that has felt so destructive to many who comment here. We all meet here without the usual power dynamics that are present in most other settings, where professionals — and I am speaking as one here — are privileged with a level of power and protection that allows us to avoid dealing with the intensity of emotion that our interventions can sometimes create (often inadvertently) in those who receive them.

Thus, here is the dialogue that we are trying to create a place for: This is a web magazine devoted to “rethinking psychiatry,” and that means that we are going to provide a forum for those who may tell of how they have been harmed by psychiatry, and in a multitude of ways. Forced treatment, their lives on psychiatric drugs, the disrespect, traumatization and humiliation they may have experienced while in psychiatric care… there is a long list of grievances that may be aired. We would like to think that for professionals who post and comment here, this then presents an opportunity — an opportunity to listen and learn from those who experienced psychiatry in this way, and, at the same time, to engage in a dialogue that can help foster one’s thinking about what needs to be done to create a new “paradigm of care.”

So, here’s my message to professionals: You will, of course, be protected from personalized attacks, just like anyone else. We need and welcome your thoughts. At the same time, a bit of a thick skin and a sense of humility will help you gain the trust and respect of those members of our community who feel both betrayed and deeply hurt by psychiatry.

And that brings us to the third point. If someone DOES appear to insult you or a group you are a part of, DON’T INSULT THEM BACK! There are a range of options if you’re feeling insulted:

      1. Ignore the comment. Ever hear the statement, “Don’t feed the trolls?” There is no reason you HAVE to respond to anything. Sometimes the best response is no response at all.
      2. Return to analyzing the substance of the comment. Maintain control of the conversation and don’t be distracted by these attempts to make it about you. One of the oldest rhetorical tricks in the book, documented as far back as ancient Greece, is the “ad hominem attack” (attacking the person rather than the arguments they made). It usually means the person doesn’t have a real answer to your arguments and wants to draw you into a personalized exchange of insults so they don’t have to deal with the weakness of their position. So keep to the facts and don’t let them get away with deflecting the conversation to a bout of character assassination.
      3. Let the person know how you’re feeling. It’s always safe to use an “I” statement: “I find your last statement insulting. It looks like you’re making negative generalizations about women.” This makes it clear that you object to the presentation without escalating it by attacking the original poster, and allows you to maintain the moral high ground.
      4. Make a “process observation” that points out what is happening without attacking the person involved: “It sounds like you just made a gross generalization about people who are taking psychiatric drugs. Do you really believe that everyone who does so is stupid or deluded? Do you think people may have a range of reasons for their choice?”
      5. REPORT THE COMMENT! Seriously, that’s why I’m here, to sort out this kind of situation and to remove or address comments that are insulting or otherwise violate our posting guidelines. Don’t consider reporting to be “ratting out” someone. It is part of making sure that our community is welcoming and safe for anyone to post their views.

Select any one of the above 5 options and you won’t have to worry about being “moderated.”

So what happens to a comment that gets moderated? First off, I’ll remove it from the queue — essentially, I “unapprove” the comment and it becomes “invisible” to readers but it remains unchanged. Second, I’ll read the comment over carefully and see if it is a total loss or if there is some legitimate stuff in there beyond the problematic comments. If it is a no-go, I’ll write the author a note letting him/her know that it’s been removed and why. If it’s unclear what the writer’s intent was, I’ll e-mail him/her and ask for clarification. And if there is part of the post that was appropriate and contributes to the discussion, I may give the author the opportunity to edit the post so that it meets the guidelines and can be re-posted.

If anyone thinks this is a clear-cut, black-and-white issue, think again. A lot of judgment and communication may go into deciding to remove or edit a post, and some will be tough calls. My goal will always be to fairly apply the posting guidelines to everyone without bias or preference, but I’m sure I’ll make my share of mistakes or miscues. If anyone feels I’m not doing what I should in a particular case, I’m always open to respectful communication of your concerns. Feel free to contact me at my MIA e-mail: [email protected].

I’d also ask that we all keep in mind that our comments are often construed by those reading the site as reflective of the organization’s opinions or beliefs, despite any provisos to the contrary from the editors. That’s no reason for us to back off from legitimate rational critiques of the system, even if these might chase off some potential interest in the site. But we don’t want to drive off people because they think we’re mean-spirited, rigid or closed-minded. There may be the odd person here or there that isn’t willing to play by those rules themselves, but I and the rest of the staff can easily block any such rare examples from further participation. So let’s welcome anyone who wants to listen and participate, and let the rest of us do our jobs if someone needs to be kept in line.

Finally, I want to thank Emily, James, Emmeline, Justin, Louisa, Kermit, the rest of the staff, and especially Bob Whitaker for setting up and supporting this unique space and showing me such a warm welcome!

I’d like us extend that same kind of welcome to ALL of our readers, even if they are in a different place than we as individuals might like them to be. After all, we should remember that all of us went through a process to gain the understanding any one of us has arrived at today. Who knows, the article or comment a person reads that really bothers them and that they feel the need to argue and complain about may be the first step in their process of enlightenment. Instead of making them feel bad, let’s gently and respectfully invite them to explore the many other perspectives they will encounter in this wonderful community!

Steve McCrea, MIA Comments Moderator

P.S. I will continue to post comments as myself, despite my new role. Please don’t take anything I say as representing MIA or my role as moderator unless I let you know I’m wearing that hat at that time. I’ll make sure to be very clear when I’m stepping in as moderator, but most of my comments will continue to represent only my own views.

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Steve McCrea
Steve McCrea, MS, is a mental health professional, advocate and author who has worked for over 30 years in social services, including over 10 years as a mental health professional. He currently works as an advocate for foster children. He is a member of Portland Rethinking Psychiatry, an educational and advocacy group inspired by the works of Robert Whitaker.

160 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent rules and framework for learning from others in a complex, emotional situation. Maybe you should moderate the whole U.S. political conversation. (Think how well THAT would pay!) Thank you in advance, Steve, even if I get “moderated” at some point in the future, which is not at all unlikely.

  2. Good luck with it all. As you say, it can be — or has been — a pretty rough environment at times, with people doing nothing but insulting psychiatrists, etc., who may not as a general class be my favorite group of people but most of whom I have found to be genuinely caring individuals, even if misguided by the medical model. Even that is something of a generalization — and I am guilty of the occasional generalization myself. However, your guidelines would certainly lead to a more civil discussion arena, in which the various gladiators put down their swords and instead embrace one another in fellowship. Best of luck to you. It’s not an easy job, I’m sure.

    • Eric, A good psychiatrist and or other professional in the system who has learned about childhood development, who has read SelmaFrau erg, DW Winnicott, who has read Jeanne Greenburg’s “I Never PrimisedYou. Rise [email protected] and “In this Sign” any of Judi Chamberlain’s writings or life stories,seen @ Splendor in the Grass and “The Snake Pit” and other theatrical and art based Humanities based classics would allow and actually be okay with anger. If course there is anger and there is anger. That’s why time outs work. It helps to create internal boundaries and the ability to self monitor and censor. At times we all need time outs and gain the skill of walking away when the anger is not helpful.
      But if a child does not get angry, does not challenge parents they will not become emotionally independent.
      So I think you asquience too much.
      We have been mistreated and we have the right to be angry and the responsibility to tell.
      How and in what way and what timeframe is still an issue on the table and this site.
      It takes an average of 30 years for an abuse victim to admit – many go to the grave in silence as well.
      WhenI was a professional in the system I consider anger a sign of awareness of something. And I tried hard to listen and support my clients – going so far as getting pro bono legal help even if a gaurdian ad litem was involved was at odds with the teen’s desires.
      And yes not all current professionals are evil but many are ignorant and or have been blindsided. And I would positvictims in a weird way as well.
      There is nothing wrong in agreeing to disagree. There is nothing wrong with owning the trauma that was imposed from the system.
      One wants to discuss from the experience not out of the experience.
      “Tell things slant” Emily Dickinson wrote. A step away.
      I have never found your comments deragatiry to me when I read as a former professional. And right on target when I wear the survivor hat.
      MIA has been slanting in a way I am not sure. Topsy turvey and ah so much going on and the waters are troubled everywhere it seems.
      Continue to wade in the waters unapologetically – we all need to remember just wade in sideways!
      And professionals should be okay with anger but it creates riptides then they have a right to have their own anger moment and own how they handle it.

  3. I do not like this idea. I do not even reads the texts, only the titles. Because without Hillman’s Re-visioning psychology,, without his knowledge, knowledge about the PSYCHE in primal meaning, the psyche DOES NOT EXISTS, so I can’t relate to anything. I can not relate to psyche in biological terms, because there is no such thing. Brain is the TV, psyche – the mythical programm, without this even my body means nothing.

    Astrology is good too. I have known someone who has six planets in the sixth house, sun and moon in the fifth, and fortune, Lilith in the twelve (nice), he is dead already. Sun and moon in one house is a tragedy.
    I believe in soul as source of imagination, and the brain has got no ability to imagine itself. I believe in the state which is beyond meat/brain theory. I live there already with the basements goth from the IT CROWD.

    Have you read the poem written by Zombie boy, before his death? I was thinking about it deeply. Shalom to Hillman’s future empire.

    Use your imagination, art, poems to conquer ego apollonian hegemony. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY. Imagination is the key.

    • danzig666 wrote: “Have you read the poem written by Zombie boy, before his death? I was thinking about it deeply.”

      I have read it, yes. It’s in the public domain so no problem reproducing it.

      THE WELL

      O Damballa
      Lo we howl upon stars hung above
      We soul cast down the well of stone
      As fire laid betwixt two fates
      Of most drear less dire straights
      Each breath cuts ice as flesh is weighed
      In front of deaths old narrow gates
      Where bold and brazen last rites crate
      Lo heed our wish of madness
      Deep from os
      Our prayers we kissed
      So stern and cold
      On metal shells
      Release by moonlight glow

      He obviously wasn’t in a good frame of mind when he wrote this. It is an exceptionally poor poem, even if we assume he wrote it knowing his decided fate. It is a terrible shame when narcissists seek fame — absolutely must have fame — but have no other talent than their actual being, and become, like ZombieBoy, a “freak” to be looked at, to cause discomfort. And that being the sum of it. I think he appeared in a LadyGaga video, and through her encouragment, did a bit of modelling work. But the novelty wears off. And no-one is much interested in the zombieboy look of Zombieboy. So zombieboy is dead as a concept. he got into the guinness book of records for having the most insect tattoos.

      Personally, if I knew him, I’d have advised him to seriously consider henna. He would then have allowed himself a future self, that could be reinvented.

      What deep thoughts did you have about his poem?

      • I presume it was not a suicide or maybe it was, I do not know for sure. I like the way he looks, from the beginning. He was nice guy with tatoos on his face. I like people who writes poems, because this is indication that they have a soul, and suicide is the main evidence of the soul. Because only the soul is more important than biological life. Hillman thaught me this, and Hillman was a propagator of my father work – the bible of the poets. I believe in soul and the poetry, not in the mental health inhuman assumptions.

  4. OK I see my buddy Oldhead’s comment did get through. I have been following these discussions closely, as has he, and have been looking forward to SM’s tenure as moderator. For me it basically comes down to this:

    I have no intention of editing or censoring posts based on the possibility that the ideas expressed may make other people “uncomfortable.

    If Steve can maintain his allegiance to this principle without interference from “on high,” I think that — contrary to the (quite justifiable) suspicions of some — there should no be no problems for the MIA anti-psychiatry contingent (which MIA wishes didn’t exist) in expressing and promoting its views. However in the past it has often been the case that ideas posed by survivors which disturb “mental health professionals” are considered more “insulting” than similar or more insulting barbs made in the other direction.

    As for statements directed at “groups of people,” this seems to be a slippery slope. For example, if “mental health professionals” are to be considered “groups of people” in the same sense as racial, ethnic, or religious groups, that would be a clear manipulation of language consistent with that of all other “mental health” terminology. This does not mean that it’s fair game to throw blatant insults at “mhp’s”; however it must also be understood that some of them have thin skins and often “feel insulted” by statements which others consider reasonable and articulately stated. So while Steve’s breakdown of how he plans to approach conversations seems well thought out (I have no doubt it has been), the devil will remain in the details. And the fact is, just about any post here at any given time could be zapped based on a hard-nosed interpretation of posting guidelines.

    So, I for one remain skeptical, though not cynical; I don’t know if Steve has enough power to pull this off but am wishing him (and all of us) well in this endeavor.

    Still the question needs to be posed — does MIA accept the possibility that the end result of “rethinking” psychiatry could well be the conclusion that psychiatry should be abolished once and for all?

  5. Thank you, Steve, for taking on this role and the information and guidelines you provided. I respect your role and hope that I can always write within the expected guidelines. But if I do not I have no problem in you correcting me and providing critical feedback. Best to you and MIA.

  6. Steve, I wrote to you privately.

    I, for one, steer away from generalizations, although I am guilty of doing it just like many others. A sweeping generalization undermines the credibility of the speaker. If you say, “Everyone,” you’d better mean it, or someone who isn’t included in that “everyone” won’t be able to relate. If you say, “All psychiatrists are evil,” to me, that sounds far less credible than giving specific examples of gruesome incidents you witnessed. Using description and vivid, gripping detail (without exaggeration) is more powerful than a generalization, and reaches people where it matters — right in their hearts.

  7. Steve

    Welcome to a very difficult job and position at MIA, but I am confident you will be fair and do a good job.

    I am also glad that individuals who work at MIA, at the same time, can be open and honest with their views in blog submissions and comments while still working within the agreed upon parameters at MIA. Why should someone’s voice go silent just because they work within an organizational structure? We need all the voices we can get, especially those who are passionate and articulate in their beliefs.

    The most difficult area of moderation will often be when evaluating the use of sarcasm. Sarcasm definitely has a positive role in these discussions as a way to delineate the different political and philosophical viewpoints. However TOO much sarcasm may sometimes go over the line where it can become a way to personally attack or degrade someone’s character. This will be one of the most challenging parts of your moderation role at MIA.

    And finally, one of my biggest concerns at MIA (which I wrote in my evaluation) would be if “Identity Politics” were somehow to take hold, and it resulted in the literary police banning certain political terms and phrases (such as the “slavery” analogy) because some people found it distasteful, or claim it is not permitted if you do not have the “correct” or proper “identity” credentials etc. I am very glad that this kind of “identity Politics” approach has not reared its head for sometime at MIA, and that is very refreshing.

    And finally, Steve, the next time there is a “Scientology” discussion you and I are going to have to find a way to “settle up” outside somewhere. Perhaps we could “beat” on each other with some wet pages form a ripped up DSM V. Carry On! We have much work to do!

    Comradely, Richard

    • Although I realize this will take us right back to where we most went to head-to-head, Richard, I can’t help but state how troubling I find your comment here. There has been – and continues to be – lots that you bring to this site and to the world in general, but i find this ‘identity politics’ business to be incredibly dismissive.

      This continues to be a largely white-dominated site, and I for one would be *thrilled* if Mad in America could find a way to take a clearer stand on some of the language that re-enforces some of the white supremacist pieces that creep in here just as much as anywhere else… Including appropriation of terminology like ‘psychiatric slavery’. I’m not interested in re-hashing that particular debate again, so I’m not going to engage even if others comment to say how wrong I am…

      But I needed to say *something*. This isn’t just ‘identity politics’… I find that term just as dismissive as people who get irritated when someone else offers a correction that they feel is “politically correct”… Both suggest that the suggestions – usually based in actually being respectful and not replicating/changing the oppressive ways of the broader world – are trivial, and that honoring or truly hearing them are nothing more than appeasing some silly person. It’s a real problem.

      -Sera

      • Sera

        I find it amazing (though not totally out of the ordinary in political movements) how I can be so completely in agreement and emotionally and politically touched by your most recent blog, “Suicidal Tendencies, Part III”, and at the same time be so in disagreement with a major theme in your joint blog with Iden Campbell and Earl Miller, titled “A Racist Movement Cannot Move.”

        My role in the comment section of that blog is one of my proudest moments as a blogger/commenter here at MIA. I say that not necessarily because it was the best of my writings here, but instead, because of just how complicated, delicate and potentially treacherous that dialogue was through all its twists and turns. AND most importantly, how dangerous and divisive *identity Politics* can be when it takes hold in any particular political movement, and why it must be vigorously opposed. I am convinced that this type of political trend at MIA could have a disintegrating effect, on a similar level as allowing Scientology to become a presence at MIA.

        Again, it saddens me that we agree on so many other important issues here at MIA, but are currently still at loggerheads on this issue.

        AND I will also say that I am still saddened, and yes, hurt by the fact that you have never apologized and/or retracted your statements in that comment section that essentially labeled me as a “racist.” I will post here a link to my response in that particular dialogue challenging your “racist” labeling of certain people (including me) and of the “movement against psychiatric abuse,” of which we are both a part of.

        Here is the link to my past comment in response to that inappropriate and politically wrong labeling: https://www.madinamerica.com/2016/12/racist-movement-cannot-move/#comment-99055. To be fair, for anyone interested enough to draw thorough going conclusions regarding this topic, it would require reading the entire blog AND comment section.

        Sera, you are correct in most all of your attempts to point out the harmful effects of the use of certain terminology,words, phrases etc. that continue to reinforce racism, sexism, psychiatric labeling and all other forms of bigotry and divisiveness in the world. I have been very supportive of almost all of your writings on these topics and will continue to do so, even if you never seek resolution of the above mentioned slurring of me and my political position on *Identity Politics.*

        But I would also add, that if you do not find a way to further investigate and seek some study and understanding of the corrosive nature of *Identity Politics,* it will come back to bite you in future political encounters and undermine your ability to maximize your overall impact on ending psychiatric abuse and all other forms of human oppression in the world.

        Respectfully, Richard

        • Richard, if you recall, I was also critical of Sera’s arguments in that discussion from the earlier blog, but i think she is making an important point here about the phrase ‘identity politics.’ I think we needs to recognize that it has many different meanings at this point, and one of them is absolutely a catch-all to dismiss the concerns of minorities in the exact same way that the phrase ‘political correctness’ is so used.

          It is for this reason that when I have used the phrase ‘identity politics’ in the past I have tried to include a modifier such as ‘bourgeois’ or ‘neoliberal’ in an attempt to make clear that I am talking about tokenism and political opportunism based on the minority status of individuals rather than dismissing the collective concerns of minority groups.

          You have been using the phrase ‘identity politics’ in the same sweeping way that Adolph Reed uses it and I think that should be cause for concern since this usage leads to all sorts of reactionary errors.

          • Uprising

            I agree that sometimes these political terms are co-opted and misapplied by Right Wing or or other backward forces. So yes, there might be a need in some discussions to clarify its definition and meaning so as to avoid any misunderstanding.

            Although. I would say that if Sera read ALL the comments (and deeply thought about them) she should know that we were NOT misusing this important political terminology.

            If people were to read the above mentioned blog (and I think we all should reread it even if we were involved in the discussion), AND especially the entire comment section, they would have a fairly in depth lesson in the nature of *Identity Politics* as it manifests itself today, and why it is so divisive and harmful to political movements trying to change the world.

            Richard

        • The only issue I have with the term is when it is used to mischaracterize things which are actually expressions of political separatism, and which are in no way inherently bourgeois. Many Black liberation groups, including the Panthers, historically excluded whites from membership and decision making without deserting the cause of international and class solidarity. More radical sectors of the women’s movement, especially lesbians, have done so as well, and continue to. So have “mental patients.”

          So Richard could be more explicit in his definition, I agree; however in general the terms “intersectional,” “neoliberal” and “identity politics” pretty much go together at this point in history; to me they all are part of the growing tendency among Americans in particular, but not exclusively, to consider the subjective nuances of their personal and sexual lives to be equivalent to or take precedent over the very real and continuing oppression the entire planet suffers at the hands of corporate imperialism, based in white America, which only matters to many people when they can use it to claim that it’s “just like” the particular strain of personal oppression they may be nurturing.

          (This isn’t directed at you, Uprising; it just seems to have come up.)

          • the subjective nuances of their personal and sexual lives

            I don’t know what you mean by this. I want to ask you, though, are you unaware that the phrase ‘identity politics’ is often used to dismiss the concerns of minorities in exactly the same way that the phrase ‘political correctness’ is used to do the same?

          • I meant to say more preoccupied with the nuances of their social and sexual lives than with fighting imperialism, which seems to be little more than an edgy concept to toss around at “progressive” parties to impress others. I could be more blunt but will refrain, it’s one of those if-the-shoe-fits type statements. Anyway that’s why I emphasized that it wasn’t directed at you.

            I don’t think it matters how others use the term, what’s important here is that we are using it in the same way, or ways. Which is why I asked Richard for his definition.

            I first heard the term “politically correct” used in discussions among leftists. The first time I heard the term appropriated by the system was via G. Bush #1, which seemed absurd to me, as the term had previously been reserved for nuanced discussions where everyone would implicitly agree on the need to defeat people like Bush. But there he was, decrying the new trend of “political correctness.” Next the term was used to ridicule the notion that anything could be correct politically. By then it had lost any semblance of the context in which it was originally used, and is now commonly used with air quotes, as (supposedly) an inherently absurd notion.

        • Richard,

          I can’t give you the apology you seek. What I can say is that I’m sorry it felt so personal to you. However, I am of the opinion that *all* white (and generally speaking, white passing) people have ways of being and moving through society that are based on benefiting from racism and white supremacy. And, I think that we *all* have blind spots as a result. And, my own experience and learning suggests that the more we have in common with the individual for whom this society was designed (the white, educated, male, cisgender, heterosexual, middle-class, able bodied, etc. individual), the harder it is to see all that and to not have those blind spots.

          So, I may be forgetting something (though I did skim back through the comment section of the blog to which you refer), but I don’t think I intended to ever say that *you* as an individual are especially racist. Simply put: Although I can see very clearly that you have invested a great deal of time in being good and moral and aware of oppression and the impact of capitalism, etc., that you – like most of us – have your blind spots made of the privilege you’ve experienced in moving through this world and/or the fact that you haven’t had to experience so many of these issues first hand. And that I do believe that at least some of the ways in which you seem to be using the terminology of ‘identity politics’ and denying the importance of hearing people of color when they ask people to not use terms like ‘psychiatric slavery’ and so on is born of some of that. But certainly not you alone. You alongside so many others, and in spite of that fact that I don’t think that’s how you mean any of it at all.

          You can call that divisive. But I look around here… Around this movement… This white, white movement… And I wonder why we can’t just do everything in a power to try and make space for that to change. Even if none of us have all the answers or are quite sure what will make the most difference.

          Anyway. I’m not going to be able to rehash most of this here. I’m about to start week two of being away from home facilitating Alternatives to Suicide trainings in Maine. I just really couldn’t avoid at least saying what I said about the ‘identity politics’ piece feeling dismissive. And I can appreciate why you wanted to reply back.

          Goodnight.

          -Sera

          • Some people are too privileged to understand the elitism in their assumptions that others have no understanding of privilege — even those who have actually fought racism throughout heir lives.

          • There is literally nothing… and I mean nothing… no past history, no commitment to anti-racist ideology or actions… that exempts one from being party to/unable to see their own contributions to racist and white supremacist structures, Oldhead.

            Elitism in my assumptions? First of all, I didn’t make the assumption that Richard ‘has no understanding or privilege’… I believe that suggesting that I said such a thing is what ‘they’ call a ‘straw man’ argument… Second, I wonder if you’re able to see the difference between what I said and your own commentary which is rather accusatory and skewing toward name calling.

            But really, what is your point here? As far as I can tell, the vast majority of the time, your point is simply to argue. Enjoy that.

            I’m going to unfollow this post at this point.

          • denying the importance of hearing people of color when they ask people to not use terms like ‘psychiatric slavery’ and so on is born of some of that [racism]

            (I ask the universe) What is ignoring people of color who embrace the term “psychiatric slavery” borne of?

          • Sera

            Thanks for responding.

            Let me clarify something about my “feelings” in all this. While I am not immune to effects of labeling, I have far too much experience in revolutionary politics over 45 years to take things too “personal” in these kind of struggles.

            I am mainly “hurt” by the divisiveness of this particular political struggle, and the potential damage that this form of *Identity Politics* can do to important political movements, including right here at MIA. And I am deeply invested in the struggle against psychiatric abuse, and genuinely care for the people I have become acquainted with through my involvement here at MIA.

            And that “hurt” involves seeing how this well-intentioned effort to expose racism, so quickly devolved (because of the political errors related to *Identity Politics*) into pitting formerly united (on some limited levels) activists against each other. This went far beyond people just being defensive because you and the other authors said they don’t REALLY understand racism.

            And that disappointment also involves my particular relationship with you, which has a history of mutual support at MIA, and includes certain social interactions on other levels you are aware of.

            If you carefully examine how that blog comment section progressed, you can clearly see that very important opportunities to educate people about racism in America were sidetracked, and ultimately derailed by some of your own blind spots, including a failure to combine and apply a genuine class analysis to your noble efforts to combat racism.

            I hope you will also admit that you just might have some “blind spots” when it comes to adopting the correct methods and approach to advancing the political struggle against racism, sexism etc.

            And I do wonder if you have attempted to read, or have been exposed to any genuine Marxist type historical analyses of *Identity Politics.* And to clarify here (as Uprising has suggested), I am not using the term *Identity Politics* in the same way Liberals used it to sum up the defeat of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

            And do you even believe that *Identity Politics* has any negative connotations, or that it can ever become a problem in political movements?

            And finally, as to the “racist label” I would ask the following two questions: Is the current movement against psychiatric abuse (with all its limitations and different and divergent strands) a “racist movement?” And leaving aside all my personal feelings, is Richard D. Lewis “racist.?”

            I believe how one answers these two questions says volumes about some of the important political questions being debated here.

            Richard

          • Just one quibble, Richard — ALL white people in America are racist at some level, it’s just a matter of degree, and white people who disagree with that are maybe a little more so. So we all at times, some more than others, subliminally or openly, reflect that racism in our thoughts and actions. The difference between that and “being a racist” is that the latter is a noun, describing someone’s identity or “what they do”; the former is an adjective describing how they think or act, which describes all white people. Those who claim to be “different” are just less aware of their own racism.

            So, to your question as to whether you are “racist” (adjective) I would respond “sometimes,” which is not rocket science since you’re a white American. If you asked is Richard Lewis “a racist” (noun) I would respond by saying “that’s preposterous.”

            Get it?

          • Oldhead

            I completely “get” what you are saying, and this is pretty much exactly how I responded to this issue in the above mentioned blog. And at that time my comment and overall analysis was completely ignored.

            This “movement,” and people such as political activists like myself, all contain elements of racism and other birthmarks from this class based capitalist system. HOWEVER, this DOES NOT in any way characterize the principle aspect of their identity and/or their overall role in the world, which is definitely NOT “racist.”

            The following comment linked here is my best summation of what was wrong with that past blog and Sera’s role in it: https://www.madinamerica.com/2016/12/racist-movement-cannot-move/#comment-99010

            And this linked comment also addresses how unfairly you, Humanbeing, and others were treated in that blog comment section.

            Richard

          • The whole idea of systemic oppression needs to move beyond race in order for us to unite against the Owner Class. As long as we continue to use race as the sole or major theme to describe who is oppressed and who isn’t, or who is appropriating what, we lose sight of those pulling the strings at the top.

            People of color do not own the term slavery and slavery as a general term refers to much more than the enslavement of African and Caribbean people of color by early Americans. As such, psychiatric slavery, economic slavery, prison slavery and other types of oppression which removes the freedom of an individual and renders them into a type of bondage then counts as a form of slavery. We don’t need more gatekeeping. We need a broader understanding that oppression (and resulting bondage) shows up in many forms, and just because you benefit from some types of systemic oppression certainly doesn’t mean you benefit from ALL systemic oppression or that you are not oppressed in significant ways unique to your own circumstances and history.

            As a targeted white woman, I cannot go to a doctor without fear. I cannot speak to a police officer as a victim without fear. My lifetime earnings were decimated by being told that I was too ill to work and being forced into poverty by SSI, while simultaneously having most people question if I was gaming the system because I am smart and resourceful and can “hide my crazy”. The resulting physical damage to my body from years of polydrugging and ECT mean I may not ever work in a substantially gainful fashion.

            But when we get into the weeds over who is oppressed and who isn’t, I’m supposed to be greatful it isn’t worse. When individual suffering is nullified on the basis that it isn’t as bad as someone else’s simply because I’m not a person of color, then who is being racist? And beyond that, who does that serve? From my perspective, it can only serve those at the top who are raking in the dough from all of these oppressive systems and they, I’m sure, are more than happy for us to be arguing amongst ourselves about who is oppressed enough to deserve the most sympathy.

            It’s the money, people. If we want to save the world, we’re going to have to get over the bad taste and eat the rich.

          • God. This is *so* incredibly frustrating. Perhaps most frustrating of all is I can’t get the website to stop sending me notifications so it’s easy to check out of this incredibly frustrating conversation.

            Somehow I can’t manage to not respond to this, so as briefly as I can…

            You said: “as long as we continue to use race as the sole or major theme to describe who is oppressed and who isn’t, or who is appropriating what, we lose sight of those pulling the strings at the top.” But I didnt say race is the sole theme.

            You said: “People of color do not own the term slavery and slavery as a general term refers to much more than the enslavement of African and Caribbean people of color by early Americans.” I didn’t say people of color own it or that that type of slavery is the only type of slavery. But it *sure* would be nice if white Americans would be willing to attend to the fact that it *sure* is that kind of slavery that is most relevant to our recent history and that it might be nice if we could respect that fact when some people of color express that it’s offensive… especially when there are *plenty* of other words to choose from.

            You said, “But when we get into the weeds over who is oppressed and who isn’t” but that has literally nothing to do with what I said. However, when we are talking about race it is okay to just talk about race. And when we are talking about sexism it is okay to make space to just talk about sexism. That doesn’t mean the others don’t count. I wonder why you hear it that way?

            You said “fashion.

            But when we get into the weeds over who is oppressed and who isn’t, I’m supposed to be greatful it isn’t worse” … again, nope. Didn’t say any of that.

            No one is nullifying anyone’s suffering. But it is super important that we ask ourselves why these conversations about one type of systemic oppression so often get lost in people wanting to say ‘not all white people’ or ‘not all men’ or ‘not all psychiatrist’ etc etc etc… or why a conversation about one type of systemic oppression suddenly becomes about taking care of someone else’s needs because talking about that systemic oppression somehow made them feel bad.

            Good goodness sake.

            Yes, sure, capitalism is a tool in strengthening or driving all these forms of oppression, and they all intersect, and psychiatry has also been used as a tool (as driven by capitalism and control from the ruling class) with all types of oppression. Yes, yes, and yes,

            And we still need to take a serious look at each piece on its own. Cause we continue to be super white, and we continue to ignore feedback from some of the very few people of color who have tried to speak up, and we continue to be *incredibly* defensive about the issue of racism pops up, and we continue to have enormous holes in what we know/think we know.

            Steve, As new moderator, could you make one of your first acts helping me find out why the “manage your subscriptions’ feature isn’t working so I can stop getting notifications about this thread!!

            Thanks,

            Sera

          • To Kindredspirit , Sera, and others

            I believe it is both possible AND necessary (in the course of building political movements today) to raise issues of racism, including the horrible history of slavery and all its remaining legacy that is still VERY MUCH alive today.

            I also believe that most white working class people can AND will (over time) be able to recognize the unique history of racial oppression, while also waging struggle with POC to transform the world into a world free of ALL forms of exploitation and related forms of racial, sexual etc… divisions.

            HOWEVER, this will NOT happen by either white or Black activists insisting NOW that ALL white people must FIRST renounce their *White Skin Privilege* and then blindly accept what may be questionable definitions of racism, such as using the “slavery analogy” as it applies to psychiatric oppression and/or “wage slavery” that references higher forms of slavery in the capitalist system.

            All of these sort of changes (including understanding white privileges in society) in thinking and institutional transformations will be a long complicated process with many twists and turns.

            Kindredspirit is correct to raise the importance of a class analysis here, but part of that very important class analysis IS, and MUST BE, a recognition of the unique position and critically important role of Black people (and other POC) in the overall struggle to build socialism and a truly classless society.

            Richard

          • Sera, what I’m responding to is your objection the use of the term ‘psychiatric slavery’, specifically on behalf of black folk, who appear to be so afraid of the group of white commenters that they aren’t speaking on their own behalf here. If you don’t want to be thought of as policing that term, why are you doing it so vociferously?

            There is a big difference between benefitting from systemic oppression and promoting systemic oppression. And bashing people over the head because they may benefit (in known and unknown ways) from the oppression of others accomplishes nothing. Literally nothing. What’s even funnier is a group of white people arguing about who is woke enough to have a seat at the table in these discussions.

            Cornell West has written and spoken extensively about what he terms the “niggerization of America”. American imperialism (war), free market laissez faire capitalism (money), are the tools used to keep us divided and arguing over issues like race, gender, and sexuality, while a handful run away with the spoils.

            And I don’t really care anymore what offense people take to the position that socioeconomic class is equal to or more important than race in the 21st century. In fact, the whole basis of intersectionality is the idea that lots of factors play into a person’s experience of the world and whether or not they are oppressed. A rich, straight, cisgendered black man is on far better footing than a poor, white transwoman. And just because a poor black transwoman is in a worse position than the white person doesn’t mean the poor white transwoman’s position is somehow magically better than the rich cis black man. And so maybe we can stop beating the race horse and look instead to the rider atop pulling the reigns, to combine analogies…

  8. Good luck and having the person who tagged a comment tell their thinking is essential. We are suppose to grow out of magical thinking around kindergarten. We need to know the specifics of why as you will.
    It would be nice to have a delay mechanism where before your post goes through – it comes back and you let it go through or not. A we are our own Sheriff idea. In grade school I had a teacher who brought in working phones to teach how to handle the telephone. I also had a record about safety Mr. Rogerish. We and the world do not yet have a template yet in place- hopefully it can be created soon.
    And nah the sheriff idea was that sarcastic humor? All I could think of was Bob Marley’s song.
    I will take a break and then comeback later.One never knows. A good faith effort can never ever be dismissed.

  9. I look forward to seeing how your moderation of the comments evolves.

    Personally I think that skilled moderation and clear guidelines are essential in managing blogs, especially ones dealing with subjects where people’s personal experiences of being hurt both emotionally and physically, are addressed.

    I have seen unmoderated online spaces used in ways that were used to settle scores and air grudges. Those need dealing with in other ways.

    I am also someone whose comments have been deleted or moderated. Often I know when what I have posted is likely to be moderated. I tend not to engage in discussion about that.

  10. This is a relief. I have barely visited let alone commented on this site in years. At one time, I was a donor but no more. The reason is that it has become over-run with abuse apologists cloaking themselves in the bullshit terms “reformist” or “critical psychiatry”, and also overrun by SJW & postmodernism ideologues. Psychiatry is a barbaric and deceitful pseudoscience. Its “practitioners” are predators who use lies, self esteem and personality breakdown, coercion, and force to obtain money regardless of any bodily harm, financial loss, or even death of the “recipient” of these drugs and lockups. I need a barf bag for half the stuff on this site due to the level of stockholm syndrome, persistent belief in fake science, or abuse apologism. I just want someone to know that many of us with permanent physical injuries as well as deprivation of rights and severe loss of money have stopped reading and commenting because like I said, this site has sold out from our perspective- it doesn’t stand unwaveringly for victims any more, the people who are suffering most. I couldn’t care less if some shrink or theRapist learned a thing or two and feels “woke” now- reality is, they typically are carrying on as usual, leaving harm in their wake, just with extra self righteousness now. I don’t trust a platform that conflates “diversity of opinion” with “giving a platform to snake oil salesmen/predators/abusers/harm apologists”. I trust that Steve will be able to make that distinction better than others.

    • I agree. People beyond apollonian ego archetypes are being condemned and killed by the state, AND THIS IS the pagan rite of SCAPEGOATS IN MODERN STYLE. And the state represent apollonian ego interests, not those of the psychological minorities who are the evidence that apollonian ego and material world of the “BIOLOGICAL” state is NOT ENOUGH.

      Apollonian ego rules only the authoritarian reality, and that reality belongs to the flesh in strict biological meaning, not to the psyche. There is a flesh in biological and there is a flesh in psychological meaning. The first one was invented by NAZIS and for the NAZIS,. And nazism was strict apollonian fixation on the flesh reality, and that flesh was suppsed to be material antipsychological, fit and healthy – reality of the animals.

      Flesh is also the psyche property and there is no war without Ares, there is no love without Eros, there is no beauty without Aphrodite, and there is no psychosis without HADES. And all what we had, we sacrifice to one god – Apollo rationality and happiness utopia. To the least psychological archetype who have got no ability to EMPATHY and no ability to see the reality of the Hades – the death reality,psychosis reality and so on. I hope it is understandable. State reject it to preserve it ‘s own need of status quo. People are being killed like that girl from the book DEAR LUISE. SHE IS A TRUE HERO, BECAUSE SHE IS THE VOICE OF THOSE UNHEARD.
      I WANT TO THANK HER MOTHER FOR THAT BOOK, AND FOR LUISE. THANK YOU. YOU ARE MY HEORES.

      AND THIS REALITY LOST THE ABILITY TO RECOGNIZE WHO IS THE REAL HERO TODAY —–TOM CRUISE AND SO ON.

      There will be no human psyche without the respect for Hades reality. Hades is beyond Apollonian jurisdiction, and the blind AND SMALL must obey to the mighty one who is able to destroy Apollo – and then we called IT PSYCHOSIS.
      And what is psychosis if we won’t give it the proper psychological meaning, if we won’t see it that way.

      ON YOUR KNEES PSYCHIATRY.

    • I started making charitable donations to MIA twice per year, several years ago. Hopefully, it was the patient activism in the 1970’s and 1980’s which garnered Bob Whitaker’s attention, which led to his decision to join us and to trumpet our cause. His work has gotten us a lot of badly needed visibility and credibility and, I think, has been a real shot in the arm to us.

      I’ve noticed that MIA is a real enclave for us radicals. Contrast that with the milque toast stuff that Dan Fisher and others are always posting on the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery’s listserv. I’m tickled to death we’ve got our own place here at MIA! Years ago, Madness Network News served that purpose.

    • That is a really good question. I have been looking into, and using complaints procedures a lot this year.

      Whether one would be relevant to MIA is a also a good question as MIA is not a service or public body, which is what I have been putting in complaints about. It is an online magazine, has a forum, has educational projects and recommends resources. I think ways to complain about all of those should be available, easy to find and done in a fair an transparent manner. So I eagerly await to see if Steve answers your question.

  11. Hi Sheriff McCrea. Have you seen High Noon? It’s a classic. If so, you will understand that my role is like that of Marshal Kane (played by Gary Cooper) who protects the citizens of Hadleyville from the outlaw Frank Miller. In case it’s not already obvious, psychiatry itself is the Frank Miller of our Hadleyville.

    Now for the classic song “Do not Forsake Me My Darling” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4a_1UhwgFU

      • Anyway (as I wait for my posts to be “moderated,” i.e. cleared) High Noon was written as an allegorical reference to the blacklisting of Hollywood actors and directors during the McCarthy era due to their alleged socialist/communist political leanings, and the lack of backbone both of Hollywood and the populace at large in confronting the “Red Scare” tactics which were ruining lives and careers throughout the country. This was symbolized in the way everyone in the film backed away from confronting an obviously evil band of criminals, and tried to distance themselves from those who did.

        I heard that John Wayne called it an “anti-American” film, and was none too pleased about having to present the Oscar.

  12. I wish you well Steve. I’m cool with your metaphor of sheriff since communities need law and order to protect the innocent. I just hope you’ll hold the Psych Experts to the same standards as us Crazy Peons. The idea that psychiatrists are oppressed victims in need of protection sounds like the movement Sir Giles Wellesley is spear heading over the pond.

    I know. You need to do your duty. Many psychiatrists aren’t truly evil but ignorant or–according to Dr. Pies–not well informed.

    For everyone else, if any TAC or AOT apologist comes here, spouting traumatizing crap, ignore the jerk. Scroll past the hateful, stupid comments so you don’t have to read them. I notice Give Me Your King is no longer among us, enlightening us with his brilliant views on how we should be locked up and sterilized. There’s always something to be thankful about. 🙂

  13. There is such a thing as being justifiably angry about the fanatical , routinely applied torture , that continues for a day or for a lifetime , when psychiatry via psychiatrists and obedient underlings , forces you and carries out into you the real “offers you can’t refuse .” Is being outraged over it the same thing ? Should I really have been moderated for trying to organize from within the comment area an “International Taser a Psychiatrist Day” in order to stop psychiatrists from hitting the switch turning on high voltage electric shock torture to the brain ? Or the chemical lobotomies etc. as well ? Just testing the moderation waters . Rethinking Psychiatry is like a big funnel where anyone who’s been at the sharp end of the spear long enough and is still able to think , their heart will yearn for escape , and soon after for abolishment of the abomination. for the sake of others. Nothing about us without us .
    If Steve must moderate may he moderate with moderation . Meanwhile there is some “rethinking”of the brain/mind relationship. It seems to elucidate the heartless brain circuitry within the skulls of psychiatrists going on at Harvard Medical School , a psychiatry thought leader stronghold offering a new course . Neuropsychiatry: A Comprehensive Update October 25-26, 2018 Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston ,Massachusetts.
    A couple of lines from their notification,
    ” COURSE DESCRIPTION: “Neuropsychiatry is an exciting and rapidly growing field that promotes an improved understanding of the brain/mind relationship. It seeks to elucidate the brain circuitry involved in primary psychiatric disorders such as mood , anxiety, psychotic, and somatic disorders, and in neurological disorders that present with cognitive,emotional,or behavioral problems. The ultimate goal of Neuropsychiatry is to advance diagnostic and treatment options for patients suffering from these disorders.”
    I say “TALK ABOUT OMINOUS.” For more information and registration : https://cmeregistration.hms.harvard.edu/734663-1901

  14. Steve, as a survivor, in every sense of the word, of the “mental health” industrial complex, I do want to say that I very much appreciate your discussion of showing sensitivity to the unique kind of trauma which survivors of the system, and of very poor and misguided (often toxic) “treatment,” have experienced–basically amounting to being “treated” badly, in a dehumanized and betraying way, simply from having some kind of diagnosis or because of socio-economic status, whatever. I’ll call it society’s collective prejudice.

    I also want to point out that, for me at least, when I share my very personal experience, it is never to hear anything like “I’m sorry you went through that,” or “that is just your experience.” I know for me, and I’d imagine for others, we are attempting to share information from the perspective of our first hand experience. I often feel these personal perspectives and insights from our own experience are dismissed in favor of some “professional opinion,” which feels dehumanizing all over again–and rather abusive, to be honest, from my perspective. I believe it is part of the systemic problem.

    Plus, I feel our personal stories–however and wherever we share them–are the most powerful and truthful perspectives BECAUSE they are based on our own experience, and not an interpretation created solely from the point of view of observing others. I believe this is where a lot of personal conflict and hard feeling happens, not to mention re-traumatization. Certainly doesn’t lead to clarity. Observation is what leads to projection, and false stigmatizing realities. The power here is in the experience, I truly believe. I also believe that this should be respected more than it is.

    I’ve experienced it on here and I’ve seen it repeatedly in dialogues, where a professional who has never experienced this particular journey of mh system survivorship–e.g., detoxing from heavy doses of neurotoxins, discriminatory oppression and marginalization, or altered states of consciousness which puts one at odds with society–will project in a way that feels demeaning all over again. It’s kind of standard procedure from what I’ve noticed. They may not even intend to, but it’s an automatic response, and I feel it merits mention because I believe people should be aware of this.

    At the same time, I’ve called out what I perceived and felt as abuse, only to be responded with, “I don’t see any abuse happening here,” which I think is pretty dicey, especially in a community like this. Reality check is one thing, but invalidating a person’s experience when they are triggered like that is downright dangerous, I firmly believe. I also believe it is cruel.

    Those of us who have gone through these experiences, and who have sorted and sifted through it all over the years, healing as we go, have information that is extremely valuable to humanity. We’ve walked the underbelly of our society, and we lived to tell about it. I know that I, at least, want to own and deliver it myself, not feed it to “those in power” so “they” can do something about it. That is exactly feeding the system and giving away our power–exactly what we want to reverse.

    I’m sure there is room for dialogue here and I know it’s all a delicate balance. We’re all human beings deserving of respect, regardless of how we identify in life. To me, it seems that even while wanting to be sensitive, there still seems to me to be a general lack of respect for survivorship here–which to me, would make it no different than the system, itself.

    This is where I’m looking for something new in these dialogues, that would really get across the value of having gone through it, rather than all this projection of “what it must feel like.” Some of us know EXACTLY what if feels like, no projections necessary! And we know exactly what we’re talking about.

    More than sensitivity, I’d like to ask for respect for my experiences. That would be positive change!

    • Oh, one last thing for now, this was on my mind when I first read the article, but obviously not my priority focus here. Still, this made me LOL at first, from the ironic choice of words–

      “anything sounding like “Black people do X” or “White people are always Y” or “gay people suck”…”

      And then I did a second take and wondered why you would use X and Y for Black/White people and then a specific word like “suck” as the example for gay people, of ALL possible words! I’m very surprised that no one noticed this, with all those editors. You are all wordsmiths. We discuss so much about language, this one would seem obvious to me.

      The standard false rationale for homophobia, btw, is that we’re “immoral,” or some such projected judgment.

  15. I should have weighed in on this before. (I posted this same comment on James Moore’s survey blog.)

    First off, since its inception six years ago,MIA has provided a forum for psychiatric survivors to tell their personal stories in blog posts that are featured on the front page, and thus get read by a larger audience. This has been one of the goals of MIA from the start, and the way you can make it possible for that survivor voice to be heard more widely is to create a site that isn’t hostile in tone and kind. So it rather irks me when I read of how we are somehow silencing the psychiatric survivor voice, etc. If you just want psychiatric survivors telling their stories to each other, that’s fine and understandable. But our goal was to give that voice a place in a wider societal discussion, and to reach beyond the choir.

    However, if we have a commenting section that is seen as hostile and always ready to attack those who have different views, that becomes a force that is helping to silence the survivor voice, because it diminishes the audience that is going to hear it and consider it.

    Moreover, we have lost any number of bloggers, including those who identify as psychiatric survivors, who stopped writing for us because of some of the responses by commenters (they felt personally attacked in some way or another.)

    And so what really are the changes we are proposing?

    One, we are trying to re-emphasize the need to be civil–both in tone and thought. We understand that there are many people who have been hurt by psychiatry as an institution, had their liberty taken away, and have felt betrayed by the stories that psychiatry has told the public. There should be a place for people to voice their rage, their anger, and so forth on the web. But because of what we are trying to do here, which is be a forum for a wider discussion about how to “rethink psychiatry” — and by the way, we have writers who are abolitionists, read Bonnie Burstow, for example–we are trying to say to all, park that emotional rage at the door, and engage in an intellectual fashion, and with a civility in tone and in thought.

    And the second change really is this: We are going to set up the comments section–as nearly all web sites have done–where readers will click on the comments and make a choice to enter that world of commentary. That will create a sense of choice by readers, and thus when readers complain that they have stopped coming because of the comments, we can say that it is up to them to decide whether to engage with the comments. The changes will also make our comments section more user friendly, and accessible . . . these changes should invite more readers to engage with the discussions.

    One of the things we realized from the survey is that so many people just avoid the comments altogether because of a sense that it can be a hostile place. We are TRYING TO ENLARGE THE AUDIENCE for those contributing through their comments, not diminish the audience. We are just asking everyone to engage in a way that help create an environment where people can listen to each other.

    And please, if you want to voice your displeasure, tell it to me. You can even write me at [email protected]. I am the one driving these changes, and so if you have a complaint, you don’t need to get mad at James Moore or Steve McRea.

    • “If you just want psychiatric survivors telling their stories to each other, that’s fine and understandable. But our goal was to give that voice a place in a wider societal discussion, and to reach beyond the choir.”

      As well intentioned as this is, the problem with this line of reasoning is that as long as “psychiatric survivors” are telling their stories, those same stories are being appropriated by psychiatry, for psychiatric purposes. A survivor who understands the true nature of psychiatry can’t tell his or her story openly or without a pseudonym without dangerous consequences.

      “So it rather irks me when I read of how we are somehow silencing the psychiatric survivor voice, etc.”

      It’s not a matter of silencing the “psychiatric survivor” voice. It is true that there are many survivors whose voices have been moderated away or silenced. That is normal in society at large as well as on MIA. In any case, it’s not always a good thing for survivors to tell their stories, particularly in a public forum such as this. Psychiatry profits from the narratives of the “mentally ill” as well as the narratives of “survivors” or others who want to “rethink” psychiatry. Unfortunately, most “psychiatric survivors” know next to nothing about the true history of psychiatry, hence their narratives play right into the hands of psychiatric propaganda. There are a few rare exceptions to this rule.

      Of course civility is imperative. Truth is on the side of psychiatric survivors and abolitionists, so there is no reason not to be civil.

      “One of the things we realized from the survey is that so many people just avoid the comments altogether because of a sense that it can be a hostile place. We are TRYING TO ENLARGE THE AUDIENCE for those contributing through their comments, not diminish the audience. We are just asking everyone to engage in a way that help create an environment where people can listen to each other.”

      This is strange, since others seem to have remarked that they actually enjoy the comments section more than the articles themselves, or that they learn more from the comments section than the articles themselves. Again, civility is imperative, and I commend any move toward greater civility. I also commend any move toward greater truth and clarity. As painful as it may be, the move toward greater truth and clarity will also be a move toward abolition, and a move away from “rethinking” psychiatry.

      • Excellent comment, Dragon Slayer, especially this:

        Unfortunately, most “psychiatric survivors” know next to nothing about the true history of psychiatry, hence their narratives play right into the hands of psychiatric propaganda.

        Context is everything. While well-written personal accounts can be used to illustrate the inherent evil of psychiatric thought and practice, without an understanding that we are examining the mechanics of oppression these accounts will be used merely to evoke sympathy and pity, and to get readers thinking in terms of charity rather than empowerment.

    • Is this site for psychiatric survivors, Bob?

      Or is it for psychiatrists and the self identifying “mentally ill?” There is a very real conflict of interest between these groups, since one supports business as usual and the other wants basic human rights that others take for granted–and the “consumers” have given up on.

      I bought a copy of Anatomy of an Epidemic for my dad’s birthday gift. I appreciate the fine craftsmanship you put into it.

      I also appreciate your candor in posting the above remark. It helps the bulk of your readership understand how you truly feel about us.

    • I’m referring to the survivor *perspective* which I feel takes a back seat to a “professional’s” point of view. That’s “the psychiatric survivor voice” I’m talking about, which I definitely feel gets overpowered here, the way it does in any session of dialogue with mh professionals and the like. For the most part, dialogue seems to degenerate into projections and defensiveness at best, on the part of the clinician, and at worst, gaslighting and other disorienting and energy-sucking mind games become the modus operandi for keeping truth at bay.

      I don’t see how this is either beneficial or productive in any way, other than, perhaps, for the vampiristic personality (extremely oppressive and double-binding, which is what we’re talking about here), but that can only be in the short term. In the long run, everyone loses in this dynamic–hence, the world dominated by any of these highly oppressive and draining “systems” coming apart at the seams, as it is.

    • Looks like this could be a can of worms, but it must be opened, coming from Bob W.

      Just a comment before even starting, with which I’ll likely alienate myself with some from the git-go: I have limited personal interest in reading endless “mental patient horror stories,” as some who worked on early “mental patient liberation” publications would sometimes semi-cynically refer to them — while still recognizing that a certain percentage of the content needed to be devoted to such in the interest of public education. The problem with such stories is that they tend to pound in just how horrible psychiatry can be, but also to be primarily emotionally focused, with little analysis of how to understand and defeat the system so that we don’t forever have an endless supply of such accounts to publish. That said, they do probably help some people vent about their experiences in a public way for the first time, which can be empowering, so I’m not opposing their publication or anything like that.

      However, if we have a commenting section that is seen as hostile and always ready to attack those who have different views, that becomes a force that is helping to silence the survivor voice, because it diminishes the audience that is going to hear it and consider it.

      Seen as hostile by whom? I don’t know Bob, this is so convoluted I don’t know where to start. I highly doubt survivors as a whole perceive the comments section this way. To take the complaints of a few people disturbed by something they read as representative of survivors as a whole is not particularly valid. “Survivors” are simply those who have been victimized by psychiatry, it is not a genuine class of people other for them having shared this common experience of victimization. In my experience the survivors who post on MIA are not intimidated at all by other survivors, even when there is intense disagreement over issues. If “professionals” are so affected by criticism, wouldn’t this say something about their competence as such? So I question this conclusion.

      In any case, to formulate discussion policies based on a fear of people leaving when they hear things they don’t like is to play to the lowest common denominator. Blatant “f-you” type insults are one thing, but more than a few “professionals” here consider any refutation of their pronouncements as “personal attacks,” no matter how reasoned or coherent. I don’t know why MIA considers the number of posters to be more important than the quality of discussion, but this is the way it comes across. If people choose to leave whenever they take issue with something I’d just as soon they did, and leave the conversation to those who are more seriously invested in discussing the matter at hand.

      Moreover, we have lost any number of bloggers, including those who identify as psychiatric survivors, who stopped writing for us because of some of the responses by commenters (they felt personally attacked in some way or another.)

      We can’t control how others “feel,” which is part of the slippery slope into identity politics. Students in major universities are now frequently telling pollsters that they support free speech “except when it’s used to hurt people’s feelings.” Is this the direction MIA wants to take?

      Personal insults should be moderated I suppose (though I welcome them myself, as they demonstrate that the person is having trouble responding to my arguments). However, simply disagreeing with someone’s position, however adamantly, is NOT a “personal attack,” no matter how one may “feel” about it, survivor or not.

      • I don’t know if this is going to help, but in response Oldhead:

        Last week I went to a movie with some friends. Afterwards we were talking about it, and someone said (of what had happened to the people in the documentary) “yeah but that couldn’t happen today because….”

        I had been strongly affected by the movie about things that had happened to me, but I was doing sort of okay in the conversation until that point. My response ended the conversation stone dead. I was factually correct in what I said, I was being true to myself but I regretted it.

        Up until I reacted the way I did, I think my friends were speaking openly themselves and open to hearing my point of view. it was a conversation. I didn’t yell or use foul language or anything like that and I certainly meant no harm, but I still killed any further discussion and any possiblity of being heard myself on the subject in just a few words.

        I think this sort of thing happens a lot in conversations where a speaker has strong feelings about a subject and especially where they have been deeply hurt and harmed and subject matter touches a raw nerve. Conversation killing is not what is intended.

        There are also times when people in conversations speak in a very similar way to assert their dominance. They are deliberately being aggressive and making it very hard for others to disagree without fear of escalating aggression and having it focussed on them.

        Two different intentions with very similar outcomes – shutting other speakers down.

        • What I think you may not realize is that the conversation may have “stopped dead” because what you said had such an impact that there was nothing to say, or that the conflicts you introduced in their thought processes made it impossible for them to respond. Why does every thought demand a response anyway? Though it’s hard to know without specifics what you’re saying, in general people do not respond well initially to new thoughts being introduced when those thoughts conflict with beliefs they hold dear. However, if what you said is true, they just may start to “get it” after bouncing it around in their heads for awhile, and possibly even thank you at some point in the future. Conversations don’t always end with the words themselves.

          While it’s hard to “shout someone down” here, it’s rarely necessary anyway unless you’re being prevented from expressing your opinion. If something is true it’s just as true when stated calmly

  16. Steve – This is a beautiful post. Thank you. And I’m so glad to see your are taking on the moderator job, as I have often thought your comments to be especially well thought out and compassionate.

    I HAVE had a hard time commenting here for fear of “attacks.” I think the issue is understandable considering that many of us “psychiatric survivors” (choose your label) are sensitive, having likely been traumatized in a major way one or more times in our lives. At the same time, in large part because of the active moderation (now by you!), I find the comments to be for the most part kinder and more respectful than on other websites.

    An additional issue of mine is that I often find it very difficult to read entire articles. I don’t know if this is a result of the psych drugs or other trauma or other factors, but my reading comprehension is not great – it used to be a lot better – and so it takes a lot of effort to read even one article. Anyway, after reading your post, I feel encouraged to keep trying.

  17. I was thinking something as I was driving. I’m probably not the first this has occurred to. In the absense of an ‘open mike’ I hope no-one minds if I put it here.

    It is this: If psychiatry continues to extend its power it will cause its own downfall. Right now those of us who speak out are easily demolished by virtue of the fact of being or having been “treated” and the records they write and the labels they are allowed to impose on us.

    But wait until more than half of the population is drugged and made to wear discrediting and inaccurate labels, and wait again until the harm accumulates over time; from individuals to partners, families social groups, communties and economies. Wait until the profession starts interfere, claiming science, in telling us who we should and should not choose, not just as head of state, but to serve on any bodiy or in any organisation able to effect change. Wait until climate change and environmental degradtion starts to be felt by most people and psychiatry tries to weigh-in with its advice and treatment to “heal” the leaders and causalties of civil unrest.

    I don’t know if public tolerance would last very far into the process, but I believe that the current trajectory, if successful (and I need to be realisitic about a profession as spectularly unsuccessful as this one has shown itself to be), would guarantee its own implosion.

    • Psychiatry survived the Rise and Fall of Nazi Germany and the Rise and Fall of the USSR. It thrives during both crisis and calm.

      Its power is extended via a mandate with the state. When the state changes, psychiatry enjoys a new mandate. New mandates in the past have included forced sterilisation, forced labour camps, clearing mine fields by walking through them, denoting political dissidence and civil disobedience as ill and pathologising it, aligning and legitimising the state’s surveillance apparatus, conducting and burying unlawful in vivo human experiments and more broadly, to explain away civil discontentedness with broad brushstroke narratives, such as the chemical imbalance hypothesis.

      Psychiatry survived all that and thus there is no reason to believe it could not survive any possible scandal or mass awakening about mass drugging and psychosocial categorising. In many ways such a scandal would be a minnow compared to say, the scandal and outcry that never was about the few known horrors of MKULTRA.

      Psychiatry has survived the countercultural revolution, two world wars, the cold war, Nazism, Communism, and is to be found, snug as a bug in a rug, in every country in the so-called top 50 best places to live in the world.

      Psychiatry is an essential tool in any democratic and non-democratic state’s armamentarium.

      • There are papers in media studies that tackle the problem of online spaces and dominant voices. The main concern seems to be that the louder voices wield unrepresentative power, influencing the conversation in a way that inadvertently — or intentionally — sidelines others and narrows the purview.

        And when studies rely on collating online voices from blogs and the world wide commentariat, their findings become skewed with these biases.

        Sometimes I think it would be a good idea to ration commenting. I dunno, say a maximum of ten comments per week. All across the internet. Perhaps five comments a week per website would be reasonable. That would also address the ethical problem of addictive commenting and whether a place concerned with psychosocial harmony should enable addictive compulsions.

        I don’t have any substantial quibbles about the moderation here. I didn’t fill in the survey. If I had I would have suggested rationing the louder and more pervasive voices.

        Another feature you might wish to consider is the editor’s pick. The Guardian do this. They select a few comments and place them at the top. These aren’t always the most liked comments.

      • Hi Rasselas.redux. I wanted to reply your comment above, but I keep getting bounced down to this one (11.13am).

        I pretty much agree with what you say in this one, except it would be a bit harsh and hard to police a limit of two comments per week, and it would prevent further discussion via replies to replies (as I’m going to do now about you comment above -6.13am):

        I was mainly talking about psychiatry’s current expansionism where they seem to be trying to label and “treat” the majority of people. Dissidents have always been a a part of psychiatry’s purview, but there has never been a state in which the majority has been labelled and treated as mentally ill. I guess it could work, but in relatively peaceful times I suspect it would backfire as the population became debilitated by the drugs and saw and heard psychiatry for themselves (and applied to themselves). It would be much harder for the profession to deny the immediate side effects and longer term brain and body damage.

        I’m also curious about how long it will take for the public to start kicking back against psychiatry pronouncing who is and isn’t fit for public and private office. Starting with the likes of Trump is shoooting fish in the proverbial barrel. Let’s see how far they can take it. Maybe the public will accept it for a while…..

      • Psychiatry survived all that and thus there is no reason to believe it could not survive any possible scandal or mass awakening about mass drugging and psychosocial categorising.

        The key is in your own thoughts, i.e. “mass awakening.” There IS reason to believe that this factor, which was previously missing in the examples you cite, will inspire the ultimate demise of psychiatry. Once the ability to force its “services” on people has been eliminated the rest will wither away.

    • Out, I think so, too. Someone figured out why pyramid schemes invariably fail. There’s a simple mathematical reasoning here. I researched this after I was involved in an employment scam earlier this year. How many people can you sucker into buying something overpriced and worthless? How many of your pals, soon to be ex-pals, did you coerce into it? And how many are now screaming their stories of financial ruin to the world?

      The lithium generation is either dead now or very sorry. The Prozac generation is aging, with early dementia clouding their thinking, but underneath, you bet they are pissed. If you were poly-drugged, your parents have outlived you, and their tragic story of your shortened life is hitting the news stands right now.

      If many more die, we will run out of burial space.

      It very well might not be long.

    • Out — You’re describing what is happening now, and correct that this is just the beginning. What’s important is for those who understand the logical progression of this mentality to learn how to explain what’s happening to others as they gradually begin to catch on. No one comes to a mature analysis of psychiatry just like that, but in bits and pieces. We can help people anticipate and fit those pieces together more readily, so as to expedite this societal progress.

  18. I too have been thinking about these things and others things that are related. By the way that MIA should create an ‘open mike’ section is an idea that would be positive. A fundamental mistake or 2 that is made everywhere when asking survivors to tell their stories is not giving them enough space to tell their story in there own natural style . And number 2, not to afterwards give them enough space to relate what their own takeaway is of their own experience and what has their experience taught them that they feel could help others avoid being captured by psychiatry altogether.The trouble is psychiatric true believers in power could easily read our reflections and use the information to tighten the noose even tighter on everyone. Another thought is that others including myself have spoken of the Therapeutic State or the ‘mental health’ industrial complex as Alex puts it so well. But here at MIA really I’ve seen so little dissection of the pharma cartel and no whistle blower’s exposing it’s evil internal doings . I now believe after seeing some history of psychiatry that it’s extraordinary power derives also from it’s being an integrated part of the Military Industrial Complex . They act and walk around like a 5 star general who has total immunity as if during wartime, except that these guys seek and focus on destroying any vulnerable civilian they can get there filthy hands on as the daily routine of their life.
    Also that pseudoscience proclaimed as science has invaded every pertinent area in human life having to do with individual and collective survival. It would be short sighted for MIA not to expand discussions into these areas. Recently I saw a documentary on youtube on the French Revolution . I was surprised to learn that the people didn’t actually revolt until the price of a loaf of bread reached the equivalent of a months wages.To loosely paraphrase John Mellencamp ,let’s hope psychiatry doesn’t keep going on long after we are crushed underneath its bootheel. Can we have it all, survival , freedom , and the abolishment of the mental death profession ? I hope so.

    • Powerful, brilliant, and spot on, Fred. Thanks for expanding clarity here.

      Yes, what is intended as deep personal info to share for the benefit of one’s own healing and clarity, and also to benefit humanity with the clarity of our experience, turns sinister as instead, this info is used against the one generously and trustingly sharing their most challenging experiences and feelings. That is exactly the norm of psychiatry, and it is dangerous for people. To me, that’s the bottom line–in more ways than one!

      • I’ll tell you what Alex , If Robert Whitaker spent the time to interview you personally ,and then me personally and some other long time experienced survivors as well . It would be far more important and valuable to other humans and to his own education then talking to outside observer , psychiatrists in various parts of the world .
        Why are not some of these so called progressive psychiatrists and Harvard and Yale type “understanders of what’s going on”, if they care so much about us , not showing up as a group somewhere and even protesting vigorously and continuously together for the human rights of even one child or baby being oppressed and tortured by the psychiatry they want to rethink. It’s a waste of time to rethink a pile of shit .
        Why don’t these most credentialed together, present Robert’s book Anatomy….. one of Breggin’s books explaining how psych drugs cause suicides and murders…. and Bonnie’s book the Business of Madness,- Present copies of these books to Trump and since he doesn’t read also a copy’s to his daughter Ivanka . ( Since Trump is now being attacked by psychiatrists) Maybe then we will begin to see some educated Presidential Tweeting and speeches that brings the bogusness of psychiatry into a mass media national conversation that the “military -pharma -psych authority’s ” won’t be able to avoid .

        • Fred, I don’t think it’s a matter of convincing the so-called “powers that be,” because when it comes to embodying the truth of our experience, WE are the true and real powers that be! We’ve already exercised our right to heal and the power to create change within ourselves and in our lives. These changes are still rippling.

          I think where folks like you, me, and others on here who have taken the journey and managed to beat the system, can make the most difference in the world is to own our power. If there is one thing I’m certain of, we know a very specific kind of truth, one that comes from traversing the shadows of society from a first person point of view, and surviving it to come out on the other side. It is life-changing and it shifts our perspective on just about everything.

          As we know, this very strange through-the-looking-glass trip inside “the madness of the so-called ‘mental health’ system” is a journey like no other. Lots of jewels to mine from that particular excursion through the dark night. We can share these with our own voices. I believe that’s where the power of our truth has maximum impact, because it is heartfelt and authentic. We are walking our talk.

          Everyone has their own brand of madness with which to contend, I believe no one is immune to this. Some have managed to put it off for a while by sloughing it off onto others, but I truly believe that day is coming to an end. I no longer take it on for others, and for me, that is radical change.

  19. Hi Steve,

    So, I know it’s already been head as I saw it come up in my skim of other comments, but I just wanted to echo that I also find the ‘sheriff’ reference to be problematic. Though, admittedly, it simultaneously made me less and more inclined to want to read the piece.

    I also wanted to push back against the don’t generalize piece… I don’t think it’s okay to equate generalizing experienced by groups of people as a feature of systemic oppression (such as people of color, etc.) with generalizing about groups of people who’ve been a part of the oppressive structure itself (e.g., psychiatrists). Sure, generalizations will never be entirely accurate, BUT one is coming out of ignorance and/or a desire to keep systemic oppression in place… The other is coming out of justified anger at the experience of systemic oppression, and even if each INDIVIDUAL doesn’t fit the stereotype or what have you, the point is that the generalization is much more accurate because it speaks to the realities of the *system* and what it charges those with keeping the system rolling to do, etc.

    I generally (to generalize) have appreciate your comments on Mad in America, so I suspect you’ll do a good job here, but I really hope you’ll give particularly this latter piece some thought as you move forward.

    Thanks,

    Sera

    • I was going to say something like that too but didn’t — generalizations are generalizations, and are not meant to characterize every member of the group being generalized about. The larger the group in question the more exceptions to any generalization can be expected. That doesn’t make it inaccurate as a generalization.