A Significant Indigenous Scholarship and Another Antipsychiatry Battle


Up until a month ago I had endowed three university scholarships, all in the antipsychiatry and mad studies area. In all three cases, though far more with the first than the other two, it was an uphill battle to get the universities to accept the endowment; in all three cases I persevered; and in all three cases, I won (for details on the previous scholarships, see “Three Antipsychiatry Scholarships”). Which brings me to my fourth scholarship.

On September 5 of this year, the Vice President of University of Toronto, the Dean of Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and I signed a contract, paving the way for a new scholarship that I was intent on endowing. With help from others, what I have in essence set up at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) is a scholarship for thesis students doing research in the area of violence against Indigenous women. Now to my surprise, while I thought gaining acceptance for this particular endowment would be a “piece of cake”—for at this juncture in history, who cannot see that important work needs to be done here?—once again, as with the first scholarship, I found myself facing an extended battle, this in large part because antipsychiatry principles were involved.

One purpose of this article is to explain the new scholarship and why it is important. On a level of more direct relevance to the Mad in America audience, though, it is primarily to look at the considerations and the fight that ensued in relation to the psy disciplines, and to at once make sense of and to articulate what that fight tells us.

To begin with the general issue of the scholarship per se, the name of the new scholarship is Burstow’s Scholarship for Research into Violence Against Women: In Memory of Helen Betty Osborne. Every year, the interest on the invested principle will be going either to a student already at OISE doing a thesis in this area or to an applicant to one of the thesis degrees in the Adult Education and Community Development program more particularly. Correspondingly, not only does what is conventionally construed as violence qualify (e.g., violence perpetrated by individuals such as murder, rape, and battery), but so does violence perpetrated by institutions (e.g., the removal of children to residential schools).

A bit of context: So who is Helen Betty Osborne? And why is the scholarship dedicated to her memory? A high school student in The Pas Manitoba (a small northern town in western Canada), Helen Betty Osborne was an Indigenous woman who was viciously murdered (she was stripped and stabbed 50 times with a screwdriver) in 1971, with four racist and misogynous young white men being the suspects and with considerable evidence existing against all of them, including the fact that her blood and hair were all over the vehicle in which they had been travelling. The investigation into her murder was marred by racism and sexism right from the get-go. It wasn’t until the mid 1990s than anyone was convicted of her murder—and then only one of the four men was convicted. Correspondingly, she quickly became a symbol for murdered and missing Indigenous women in Canada (for further details, see “What Detectives Hide from You: The Story of Helen Betty Osborne”).

So why is this scholarship important? Because it will fund, create recognition for, and in the process promote research into violence against Indigenous women—a horror which remains at an epidemic level. In Canada alone, note, according to the official records, there are now 1200 murdered and missing Indigenous women (see “Helen Betty Osborne’s story is timeless — and it shouldn’t be”), with the figure looming far larger in the US.

Moreover, what is covered by the concept “murdered and missing” is but one of the many ways that Indigenous women are being violated. Who has not heard frequently of the raping of Indigenous women? Who has not heard of the rampant removal of their children? As a society, we direly need to come to terms with what is going on, and supporting research into this devastating phenomenon is one of the avenues open to us. In that sense, the advent of this scholarship constitutes a needed breakthrough, this being the first university scholarship in Turtle Island explicitly in this area. So given how obvious it is that a scholarship like this was needed, the question is: Just why was it hard to gain approval for it? Which bring us back to the struggle between me and the university and the impasses that arose.

The first problem that occurred when I tried to gain approval for the endowment was that people were uncomfortable with institutional violence being included under the definition of “violence.” No reason whatever was given why this should be not be spelled out, and so I can but speculate. Let me ask the reader, however: does it not individualize and trivialize the problem of violence against Indigenous people to focus in exclusively on individual violence? And let me just note in passing that individual violence against Indigenous people is just the tip of the iceberg.

Even greater discomfort was expressed when I provided examples of different types of institutional violence against Indigenous women. What were my examples? To cite the exact wording that I used in the draft document of the endowment which I sent the university. “For purposes of this scholarship, violence against Indigenous women is defined broadly. It includes not only what is conventionally seen as violence such as murdered and missing, battery, and rape, it also includes such institutional violence as imprisonment, psychiatrization, and interference by child welfare.” (Burstow draft endowment, May, 2018)

Now obviously, I could have used other examples, such as incarceration of children in residential schools. But that is not the point. What is of interest here is that the examples given immediately met with discomfort. And of the three examples used, which is the one that anyone explicitly expressed that they were uncomfortable with? You guess it! Psychiatrization. A reaction which itself suggests why this area had to be clearly named. Raping, murdering, taking away their children, and imprisoning Indigenous women for innocuous offences like first time shoplifting for which white women typically get off is among the many horrendous ways that Indigenous women are violated. So, however, is interpreting their distress at how they are being treated as a “mental disorder” and in turn subjecting them to psychiatry’s brain-damaging “treatments” and/or psychiatrically imprisoning them. And to make a critical connection here in passing, if we look at the most notorious of the psychiatric institutions in which Indigenous people were historically locked up—the infamous Hiawatha Asylum for Insane Indians, from which inmates typically never got released—one of the primary reasons that they were locked up here was precisely for their expressing dismay over the removal of their children (for a telling article on this institution, see “Wild Indians: Native Perspectives on the Hiawatha Asylum for Insane Indians” by Pemima Yellow Bird).

To focus back in once again on the endowing of the scholarship, were there other problems expressed over the endowment as I framed it? Yes, objected to was my:

  1. specifying that priority be given to theses dealing with analysis of violence, as opposed to theses theorizing how to deal with the aftermath of the violence
  2. stipulating that theses concerned with attending to the aftermath of violence could only be considered if they were vested exclusively in traditional Indigenous approaches.

Why did I put in these stipulations? Because the last thing I wanted was to be funding what would be tantamount to further colonization of Indigenous people by the psy disciplines. Correspondingly, I was well aware that such colonization is rampant—all in the name of help. In this regard, in Canada, for example, more and more money is being poured into “mental health services” for Indigenous people—all of which is interpreted as help and all of which at once pathologies and furthers the work of colonization.

How strenuous were the objections to these stipulations? Very strenuous. Including by one Indigenous person who was consulted. While people made only vague references to research going on at University of Toronto that should qualify and wouldn’t qualify given these stipulations, nonetheless, what was abundantly clear was that people were specifically uneasy about excluding the psy disciplines. Which itself is an indicator of the degree of colonization currently underway. So how did I win the fight?—for yes, win it I did. By finding Indigenous allies. By Indigenous stalwarts like the Dean’s Advisory Committee on Indigenous Education weighing in. By holding fast to my other allies (throughout, the Dean of OISE and the head of community outreach at OISE for example, were sterling allies, with OISE itself kicking in money). By not budging an inch. By repeatedly making it clear I would withdraw the offer to endow rather than agree to anything that I saw as compromising the integrity of the scholarship. Though it took a long time, in the end what emerged is a scholarship and a victory of which we can all be proud. So the story has a happy ending, but it is not the ending that it is critical for us to wrap our minds around right now.

Now you may think I had unnecessarily “shot myself in the foot” by how I framed the scholarship. Obviously, if I had not been intent on blocking inroads into the scholarship by the psy disciplines, moreover, had I not explicitly named psychiatrization as a form of violence, gaining permission for endowing this scholarship would have been considerably easier. And yes, indeed, it would have been. That is precisely the point of this story, however, for the stipulations in question and the naming of psychiatric violence were critical. Had I not explicitly named psychiatry, students in the Indigenous area doing thesis work involving psychiatric violence would unlikely ever be seriously considered for the award. Correspondingly, had I not worded the endowment in a way that prevented this from happening, this scholarship could easily have ended up being used to fund explorations into the use of psychiatric “treatments” on Indigenous women. The more general point being made here is that forgetting psychiatry and what it does in society is something we can ill afford to do. The oppression that is psychiatry has to be integrated into our understanding of other oppressions—and the fact that this scholarship does so helps safeguard it as a force for good in the world.

Let me suggest that the same principle holds whenever we are involved in any kind of anti-oppression work. It is not good enough to ghettoize concerns about psychiatry, allowing them to enter in only when the focus is explicitly on psychiatry. We need to bring it in at other times as well, whether we are mobilizing a march against police violence against people of color or teaching a course on trauma (for a highly informative article on how to integrate antipsychiatry principles into a trauma course, see https://breggin.com/bonnie-burstow/). In short, tunnel vision or failing to integrate, common though this is, is a mistake that those of us trying to rein in psychiatry can ill afford to make.

So what are the take-away lessons from this endowment struggle? Always remember psychiatry and antipsychiatry when you are trying to address any oppression—for whether they are obvious or not, psychiatric tentacles are everywhere. Be prepared for the longer fight that will necessarily ensue. Don’t budge an inch. Find allies. Hold fast to the allies that you already have. And persevere, for most of these fights that seem impossible can indeed be won.

In ending, to focus in once again explicitly on this scholarship, let me express my delight that such a scholarship now exists and encourage the creation of scholarships of this ilk at other universities. How we as a society need such awards! It is high time that violence against Indigenous women starts receiving the attention it deserves, including at universities! Correspondingly, let me invite readers who are political and who are interested in applying to graduate school (both those wanting to pursue research into violence against Indigenous women and those who simply want to be enrolled in a graduate school where the oppression of psychiatry is integrated) to check out the adult education program at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education for the beginning of the 2019 admissions cycle is fast approaching. Correspondingly, OISE in general and the adult education program in particular is a terrific place to be—and you just might find what you are searching for here.



Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. Good job! There should be no compromise around the issue of violence here. Removal, (re)education, psychiatry, all these matters concern government violence directed at indigenous people, and women were, and still are, the most violated. Psychiatry is one of the things the government uses against people who are different, and, in particular, indigenous people. Abduction, imprisonment, poisoning, demolition of personality, disrespect for traditions, etc., where is any of this not violent? The police are still shooting unarmed black people. Where is that not racist? We need to see these things as they are. I’m glad you got your scholarships endowed. I’m hardly surprised there was some resistance to the idea. This one however sounds, obviously, long overdue. Thank you, Bonnie, for doing what really needs to be done.

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  2. Without phenomenological background of the psyche and without facing the cruel truth about the death in the psyche, there will be no wisdom and co courage. Without wisdom and courage and the truth there is nothing.

    Psychiatry is using theology and psychiatrist are so childish and immature, all they want is power over the psyche, and they won’t have it, pseudo medicine won’t have it.
    Scientists destroyed phenomenology of the psyche, from that moment psyche became flesh and we became biological machines.

    Phenomenology of the psyche is something which is superior to apollonian ego psychopathy.
    I do believe that psychological man is worth more than authoritarian mind.
    There are workers, and there are material workers and there is also a psychological work, and for those completely lost in the material world, psyche means nothing. And, maybe they supposed to be called the same way.

    Schisophrenic, autistic- non functioning garbage —the psychiatrists story/antipsychological fixation of the materialists/apollonian ego fixation

    NORMAL (APOLLONIAN EGO) —–A FORM OF BIOLOGICAL MACHINE —(they like when scientists call them that way)
    The psychological/phenomenological view on apollonian ego.

    Sb should treat normal people the same way they treat psyche. EMBITTER THEM, TREAT THEM AS A FORM OF ROTTEN MEAT.

    And that will be justice. We all know, that this site won’t change anything. Psyche needs dionisian/psychological Hitler, dionisian, not apollonian. Judge people for what they are, pay not attention to their money, and we will see who will win. There is a hierarchy in psychological world, and apollonians are on the bottom of the psyche.
    It is not abput the money, it is war about the meaning in psychological hierarchy.


    James Hillman Re -visioning psychology.

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  3. “The oppression that is psychiatry has to be integrated into our understanding of other oppressions…”

    Why? Define oppression. I’m not buying this argument at all.

    “It is not good enough to ghettoize concerns about psychiatry, allowing them to enter in only when the focus is explicitly on psychiatry… In short, tunnel vision or failing to integrate, common though this is, is a mistake that those of us trying to rein in psychiatry can ill afford to make.”

    I couldn’t disagree more. Bonnie is right that psychiatry ought to be abolished. She is also right that there are various and atrocious injustices in the world. But the real tunnel vision consists in the assumption that the abolition of psychiatry must necessarily include any number of social justice projects. It doesn’t. In fact, just the opposite is true.

    By all means, abolish psychiatry. By all means, help Indigenous women, or any kind of women. But let’s stop pretending that antipsychiatry and the abolition of psychiatry necessarily depends on some larger, ill-defined battle against oppression. Let antipsychiatry be what it is, namely, the battle against psychiatry. What is psychiatry? Psychiatry is a pseudo-scientific system of slavery that masquerades as medicine. What, therefore, is antipsychiatry? It is the defense of freedom and responsibility against the tyranny of psychiatry.

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          • Yeah, but if we can’t get rid of psychiatry UNTIL we get rid of “injustice and inequality”, then we will NEVER get rid of EITHER.
            I’d rather get rid of psychiatry FIRST, and worry about the rest of injustice and inequality LATER….
            Life is inherently “unjust” and “unequal”, Bonnie.
            But it isn’t inherently psychiatrized.

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          • Perhaps you can clarify this point a bit in a future post, because I’m still not persuaded that antipsychiatry necessarily entails attacking oppression, whatever that might mean. I’m on board with most of your assessment of the history of psychiatry, and I’m on board with the need to abolish psychiatry. But I’m still not persuaded that antipsychiatry or the abolition of psychiatry requires adherence to any number of social justice causes.

            Szasz advocated for the abolition of psychiatry, for example, and he was even sympathetic to the plight of women, minority groups, and homosexuals. But he was wary of the liberal, progressive, therapeutic state as well. Szasz wasn’t right about everything, but he understood the need to abolish psychiatry.

            I respect your opinion Bonnie, and I appreciate the great work that you have done in exposing the truth about psychiatry. I’ve been reading “Psychiatry Disrupted.” I agree wholeheartedly with the following statements:

            “The goal of antipsychiatry is quite simple – nothing less than the abolition or end of the psychiatric system. Herein lies its ultimate distinction. While people critical of psychiatry but not fully antipsychiatry may take certain kinds of changes as sufficient – the advent of informed consent; less use of drugs; a kind, gentler industry; or diagnostic categories that are less overlapping, for example – as clarified in documents like the Coalition against Psychiatric Assault’s (CAPA) fact sheet, antipsychiatry holds that no changes will be sufficient, for the institution is too flawed and dangerous simply to be tinkered with.” (p. 37)

            and “The point is that we are up against a very complex system, with huge vested interests, with the complicity of the state, and with the blessings of a fearful general public. We are also up against thousands of years of prejudice against people whose ways of thinking and processing differ from those of folk deemed ‘normal’ – prejudice that…. predates the medical model and predates psychiatry, but has been made far more formidable by the veneer of science.” (p. 37)

            and “Besides that they have the lion’s share of the power, people who successfully make this world a living hell for others – who rob others of their freedom, who subject them to torturous treatments – tend to be very good at what they do. We need to be equally good.” (p. 50)

            I agree with this overall assessment of the situation. I’m just not persuaded that antipsychiatry and the abolition of psychiatry requires “attacking oppression” or espousing various social justice causes. Perhaps in a future post you can clarify what you mean by “attacking oppression,” or how these “oppressions” relate to psychiatry.

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          • Since I am not female nor feminist, true it is not my fight but the idea that it is only men that are uncomfortable has been debunked by tweets like this

            Thanks for getting that out of the way at the beginning. Since you are not female or feminist, and seem to have no interest in promoting either, my position here is that as a man you have no real business getting involved in or opining on any possible divisions between women or feminists. These are for women to resolve on their own; if and when they need help from men I’m sure they’ll ask.

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        • So now you are opposed to coalitions? This is an about face. Don’t understand what’s gotten into you DS.

          For the record — and standing back from the fray — you proclaim your own political perspectives constantly, which in a way is what makes your contributions valuable, as it demonstrates that psychiatry affects people throughout the political spectrum. So I don’t know what you consider to be suddenly different. People here have had pretty much the same viewpoints for years.

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          • I’m not opposed to coalitions. I’m just not persuaded that the abolition of psychiatry and antipsychiatry require the potpourri approach that Bonnie outlines. Psychiatry is the problem, not some nebulous notions of “oppression.” But you make a good point OH. Psychiatry preys on all kinds of people. The dragon of psychiatry doesn’t care if you’re black or white, male or female, rich or poor, young or old. While it’s true that psychiatry preys on the most vulnerable, children, the elderly, the homeless, and so forth, it will find ways to prey upon anyone in any way it can. The only reason I proclaim my own political perspectives so frequently is because someone needs to push back against the predominantly progressive approach to antipsychiatry. If I don’t, who will? Psychiatry must be abolished. I agree. I just think that the cause of liberty and responsibility will advance as it always has, and not in the way that Bonnie prescribes.

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          • Once again you fail to define significant terms, in this case “progressive.” Richard does this too btw with terms like “identity politics.” As for “oppression,” I don’t see why fighting it bothers you, unless the idea that oppression could exist in America is too much for you to accept. Because you’re fighting it yourself.

            I’d say what is more subject to debate is what does and does not constitute oppression — for example some people call fighting psychiatric drugging “pill shaming,” which they consider “oppression.” Is that the same as racism? (Speaking of which, you don’t hesitate to glorify Frederick Douglas when attacking “psychiatric slavery,” but it seems that you somehow divorce chattel slavery from many other forms of racism still alive today, which is highly inconsistent.)

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          • I don’t think he/she is against oppression as much as the dilution of a cause by turning it into a social justice issue.

            It’s not like there isn’t smoke among the forest when you look at current events.

            For ex. there are a growing number of feminists that have ushered in the term “toxic feminism” which then evolves into feminist speaking against any opinion they feel speaks against feminism so even women are turned off from being feminist more and more because it’s like these groups have hijacked the conversation and turned it into an issue about shallow issues when real oppression is occurring.

            That’s one issue and the other issue is of course allocations. The so called phenomena of creating many different types of grand message which leads to policies on oppression but no real collaboration into just brandishing a sword that would slay a dragon.

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          • As I see it, anti-psychiatry as an social injustice movement is something I just couldn’t support. I believe we’ve had some of those in the past. German Storm Troopers (SA) or Brownshirts, for example. In today’s world, you’ve got neo-Nazis and white supremacists with plenty of inequality proposed there, if that’s what you’re after. Is that really a direction we want to pursue?

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          • @Paul — Feminism is definitely under attack on more than one front these days, but that doesn’t seem to be your primary concern. What you seem to be focused on is not the divisions among women holding them back but some basic precepts of feminism that make men uncomfortable. If I am mistaken feel free to elaborate.

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          • OH, here’s a working definition of progressivism: the liberal religion of faith in “progress” that can be traced back to Hegel through Woodrow Wilson. For the record, I’m not fighting some vague notion of “oppression.” I’ll leave that to the social justice warriors. My beef is with psychiatry. I don’t glorify Frederick Douglass, but he is certainly a hero of the cause of liberty whose life and writings ought to be studied and are rightly revered by any freedom loving individual. I reject the false notion that chattel slavery and the so-called “racism” of today have anything at all to do with each other. Frederick Douglass is rolling over in his grave, not to mention Martin Luther King, Jr., to witness that now, more than ever, the content of one’s character plays a subordinate role to the color of one’s skin.

            In brief, Bustow’s brand of antipsychiatric social justice utopianism isn’t just untenable, it’s a boon to psychiatry itself.

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          • I reject the false notion that chattel slavery and the so-called “racism” of today have anything at all to do with each other. Frederick Douglass is rolling over in his grave, not to mention Martin Luther King, Jr., to witness that now, more than ever, the content of one’s character plays a subordinate role to the color of one’s skin.

            “So-called” racism? This sounds more like blatant racism on your part, and any attempt to abstract current racism from its origins in slavery is absurd. If you were focusing on a specific issue, and making a claim that it was incorrectly being portrayed as an example of racism, sexism or whatever, that’s something that can happen, and it is not inappropriate to challenge what you consider a false characterization. But to refer to “so-called” racism in general terms, with the clear implication that racism is no longer part & parcel of American culture, is at best clueless and at worst racist itself.

            Btw I doubt many who consider themselves “progressive” would agree with your definition. On the other hand I don’t think they would agree on any other, which is why it is not a useful term in a discussion.

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          • Very disingenuous DS. “Calling people names” is different from analyzing their statements. Saying a person is “a racist” could be construed as an insult (though a racist would appreciate it). Saying that you believe someone’s statements or actions are racist is engaging in debate. And my position is that engaging in generalizations such as you did above is objectively racist. You’re free to counter that, as opposed for asking for it to be “moderated,” which you have generally opposed in the past.

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          • @oldhead

            “We have a “movement” with “resources”? Who’s been keeping this a secret?”

            No secret. You only have to look at how much the antipsychiatry scholarship cost.


            Not really. All I did was paraphrase quotes by MLK Jr. and Frederick Douglas so they were pretty clear on what they were saying and I just expanded on them.

            There’s a difference between incomprehensible and and not facing the situation and just saying something is incomprehensible without going into details as to why.

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          • “I would say that what Bonnie does with her “resources” is no one’s business but hers. Who is this “movement” you seem to believe should have a say in this?”

            The movement she is fighting for. The antipsychiatry movement.

            You don’t seem to understand why Bonnie had to rush her will.

            Like you said, it’s her business and she made use of her resources to make it her business to fight for me and other individuals who are for antipsychiatry not just in her lifetime but once she passes away.

            It’s very inconvenient to be talking about movements that aren’t secrets at all and then when a reply stating there is no secret about it gets replied with talking about what Bonnie Burstow does with her resources as if there was anyone telling anyone how she should spend it – it makes an already inconvenient commenting system even more inconvenient.

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          • Calling a person “racist” is an ad hominem attack devoid of substance. Claiming that a statement is “racist” is not analysis or engaging in debate. It’s a way of silencing dissent and avoiding civil discourse. I’ve opposed moderation of debate and civil discourse, but when it comes to ad hominem attacks and slander, such comments ought to be moderated. If you have an argument to make, make it. Calling someone a “racist” or claiming that his or her comments are “racist” is not an argument.

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          • Posting as moderator here:

            Calling someone a “racist” is most definitely an ad hominem attack. Saying that a comment is “racist” may or may not be, depending on the context. There are definitely comments that could be called “racist” legitimately by the definition of the term. It is true that claiming “racism” can sometimes be used to shut down discussion. It is also just as true that there are plenty of racist memes and beliefs floating around and there is nothing wrong with confronting them if the content truly puts down an entire race or promotes the superiority of one race over another or justifies racist behavior.

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          • “Btw I doubt many who consider themselves ‘progressive’ would agree with your definition. On the other hand I don’t think they would agree on any other, which is why it is not a useful term in a discussion.”

            There are people who believe that the moon landing was fake and 9/11 was an inside job. So what? If you have a better definition, let’s hear it.

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          • “Paul Keith, thanks for clarifying. Your prose is exceedingly difficult to understand.”

            No problem. So long as readers get something from it when the time comes.

            Lots of these quotes like:

            It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men by Frederick Douglas:



            Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.


            Sometimes are so good at their simplicity in showing what is needed to be done but when expanded upon – it can seem difficult to understand if the actual person doesn’t have status among his peers when delivering the same idea but really it’s all just utility and data.

            If a person can better fight for the cause for antipsychiatry then it’s good – if it just ends up making a Bonnie Burstow “sit out” of the comments section because the topic has shifted from the intent of her article to something like who is a progressive or who is not. Then it only serves to move away both from your intended purpose of warning Bonnie and also from the actual purpose of the antipsychiatry scholarships.

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          • Claiming that a statement is “racist” is not analysis or engaging in debate.

            That’s about the most ridiculous statement I’ve heard this week, right up there with Richard’s statement that “conservatives” can never be 100% anti-psychiatry.

            If despite your intellectual brilliance you need this spoon fed, simply calling a statement or action racist without further explanation may be intellectually lame, but “ad hominems” refer to people, not ideas (that’s where the “hominem” part comes from). Describing something as racist along with reasons for considering it to be so would be part of legitimate debate, and attempting to suppress it would in fact constitute the sort of “silencing” you claim to oppose.

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          • Commenting as moderator here:

            I don’t agree in this particular case. It appears he uses it in reference to to a specific comment, saying that the term “so-called racism” as used suggested that no racism currently exists and that people are making it up in order to accomplish some objective or other. You’re welcome to respond as to your actual intent in using that phrase, or dispute that the comment is racist, but it’s not an insult directed at you, it is an attempt to characterize a particular comment in terms of its implications. If we didn’t allow that, then we really would be in an “echo chamber.”

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          • “It is true that claiming ‘racism’ can sometimes be used to shut down discussion.”

            And that’s precisely the tactic that OH resorts to.

            If you choose to shut down the discussion by leaving it rather than engaging that can hardly be blamed on me or MIA.

            these tactics would almost persuade me to be pro-psychiatry

            Tactics such as expecting people to address criticisms of their argumentation with reasoned responses to the questions being raised? Very devious indeed.

            You seem very angry lately, DS, and your generally coherent (if unique) reasoning seems to be suffering as a result. At least we know you’re ok following your recent “disappearance,” but you have become mysterious indeed.

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          • We can keep talking in circles or — you might want to lend your perspective on some other key controversies that have been going on here for some time: a) the TED/”nutrition for mental health” article and b) the “peer workers’ support network” article. I think it would be a lot more interesting.

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          • Looking at that link, I can’t really agree with you. Unless you are saying that ALL observations of racist behavior are of necessity “trial by accusation?” Surely you would agree that racism still exists and is in regular practice today? Or are you really saying that racism is a thing of the past? People do use accusation to affect people’s opinion of a person, but it’s also true that some people do rape other people, and some of them are in positions of power. Are you denying the right of anyone to tell their story, because their story might damage someone’s reputation? Aren’t psychiatric survivors “accusing” psychiatrists and the field of psychiatry by telling the truth about what has happened to them?

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          • Since we’re sharing links, I thought you indigenous readers/future indigenous readers might like this recent upload by John Oliver:


            It’s narrated towards Facebook but John is actually talking about online comments in general and it’s a lighter baggage on the whole accusation studies theme because it’s satire – plus it actually has indigenous people in them! (Unfortunately no Native Americans so far as I can tell.)

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        • I don’t always agree with Bonnie too but progress towards action.

          Inaction or non-existent action is also activity that leads to no progress on our end not because there won’t be the existence of resistance but because there won’t be a resistance at all.

          You say:

          “But let’s stop pretending that antipsychiatry and the abolition of psychiatry necessarily depends on some larger, ill-defined battle against oppression.”


          The battle against oppression has to be defined and it has to be made known the proper size of the oppression exists.

          As much as people need to be aware of Dragons, people have to also move away from dragons when a simple screwdriver wielding criminal takes advantage of a victim of a culture sub-reported in the media compared to a high profile personnel.

          Does this mean any method leads to efficiency? Probably not but right now there is no efficient method at all because there’s almost no dragon survivor that wants to worry about a dragon because there are only pitchforks lying around to use against someone mugging their opportunity to grow and consider the ramifications of a dragon ruling over their lives.

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        • @oldhead

          “Thanks for getting that out of the way at the beginning. Since you are not female or feminist, and seem to have no interest in promoting either, my position here is that as a man you have no real business getting involved in or opining on any possible divisions between women or feminists. These are for women to resolve on their own; if and when they need help from men I’m sure they’ll ask.”

          No problem. I wasn’t getting involved in your business. I was getting involved in @Slaying_the_Dragon_of_Psychiatry’s business.

          I’m not even sure why you thought I was resolving any issue for you. My quote from that tweet was by a woman (Debra Soh) having issues with feminism for example which I happen to just reply under.

          I don’t really understand where the confusion came with regards to me somehow fighting for your cause. I never offered to help you to my recollection. Especially with regards to feminism.

          Maybe my memory is faulty and I asked you for some help in this site before but I don’t recall. I only recall asking for kindredspirit’s help and Julia Greene in this thread:


          And off-site I’ve only talked to Lauren Tenney and filled up the survey forms by Emily Cutler. So those are the women antipsychiatry activist/critical psychiatry proponent that I recall asking for help or attempted to…I guess contribute to their cause. (Wouldn’t call filling a survey for example as counting as help.)

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    • We really need to emphasize the worth of all human beings–on the grounds of their common humanity.

      Yet I understand and appreciate Bonnie’s attempt at strengthening our movement through alliances with other minorities who have endured discrimination too.

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  4. First, I offer my deepest condolences to all of the families of murdered Indigenous women in all countries. This most severe kind of evil should be met with the utmost investigation and prosecution and prevention from appropriate government authorities. As for the U.S. (as I suspect is the case for many, many countries), the risk of government-mediated violence of psychiatrization against Indigenous women (as it is for all women) is increasing as, for example, evidenced by the recent Alaska 1115 waiver application which tries to justify a significantly greater need for psychiatrization of Indigenous Alaskans rather than Biblically loving these beautiful people (who God has made in His own image and to whom God has granted the same
    universal human rights as He has granted to all people everywhere) in the context of helping Indigenous Alaskans recover from centuries of repeated significant sinful cultural disruptions. More about this particular example of escalating government-mediated violence of psychiatrization can be found in my rebuttal to the Alaska 1115 application in a link in my 5/2/18 letter to the editor of the British Medical Journal available for free at the following URL address:


    Sincerely and In Biblical Love for All People Everywhere,
    Thomas Steven Roth, MBA, MD
    Christian Minister for Biblical Medical Ethics,
    and therefore,
    Religious and Scientific Refugee from the Clinical Practice of Psychiatric Standards of Care
    P.O. Box 24211
    Louisville, KY 40224
    September 21, 2018

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    • Dear Dr. Burstow:
      First, I am not making any charges or accusations against you in this comment but, rather, I am just seeking clarification. I have reviewed you responses to comments on your blog and notice what clearly seems like you trying to respectfully respond to each new commenter directly underneath their first new entry comment. Accordingly, if your response directly underneath my comment is indeed a rebuttal to my comment and links (which a reasonable reader of your blog might reasonably conclude just from your above noted diligent visible pattern of responding to new commenters directly beneath their first comment), then, first I respectfully thank you for taking the time to read my comment and its important links and then taking the time to respond. However, if this is the case, I also cannot imagine how your response (especially “. . . you don’t get allies unless you care and show in your actions that you care about other oppressions besides that one with which you are most concerned”) could apply in any way, shape, or form to my above comment and links and/or my over-twenty-year and much broader Ministry for Biblical
      Medical Ethics and other pastoral ministries (including pastoral counseling) which are highly personal and confidential and therefore not accessible on the web just as medical records of a doctor would not be. Thus, if you are just using this physical point in your blog just beneath my comment to stimulate further discussion (and not in any way even implying a rebuttal to my above comment and links) then I understand and make no further comment other than to please consider how a reader of this blog might reasonably think otherwise given your absolutely great and diligent pattern of apparently trying to respectfully respond to each new blog commenter directly beneath their first entry which is truly praiseworthy on your part as an experienced and dedicated blog leader. However, if you are in any way, shape, or form implying that I have inappropriately failed to “care about other oppressions” or in any other way acted inappropriately in my above comment and links (which I actually posted in your blog for the purpose of supporting and encouraging each and every good work God is giving you as well as each and every other participant in this blog concerning this and all other matters of human oppression) and even to the extent of me, in that case, allegedly giving current or potential allies just cause to not be my ally in these truly lifesaving matters, then if (and again, I respectfully say “if”) that is the case, please state your legal and ethical facts under this comment that would reasonably lead someone to believe such a terrible thing about my above comment and links so I may first examine my own work and soul and then provide any appropriate rebuttal. For indeed, Dr. Burstow, I very much agree with your below comment that “I do have a problem with slander and slanderous innuendo” and that “By contrast we expect to be safe writing in Mad in America” and especially given that I trust that all of us participating in this important MIA blog are sincerely trying to protect the tens of millions of human lives that are being seriously harmed each and every day by the bad science and bad medicine of psychiatry and the long-term failure of appropriate authorities to put an end to this iatrogenic psychiatric morbidity and mortality.

      Sincerely and In Biblical Love for You and All People Everywhere,
      Thomas Steven Roth, MBA, MD
      Christian Minister for Biblical Medical Ethics,
      and therefore,
      Religious and Scientific Refugee from the Clinical Practice of Psychiatric Standards of Care
      P.O. Box 24211
      Louisville, KY 40224
      September 27, 2018

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      • I think it was Philip Sheridan who said, “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead,” twisted in the popular mind into, the only good Indian is a dead Indian. So, in the case of indigenous people, we’re dealing with attempted genocide. (A word related to eugenics if you ever research the term.) Of course, indigenous populations are not the only people suffering oppression. When all those oppressed, marginalized, and disenfranchised people get together, what have you got? Why, then you’ve got a majority. After all, what we are not is the 1 percent.

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        • @Frank Blankenship,

          True but do keep in mind even when indigenous populations are not killed they are often turned to slaves because their history of suffering is so great that they would cling to any symbol of hope for their future and sometimes these creates cultural blowback where a group ends up becoming narrower not because the symbol isn’t there that encompasses all those ingenious groups but the symbol ends up only fitting a narrow group of indigenous people and a narrow group of say psychiatric survivors because the general theme may have good intentions but they were also based on a mixture of trying to shoe-horn something in.

          Of course all these has yet to be seen since the scholarship only started but we do need to keep that in mind not only for our fight but for the other fights our potential allies might be facing in their lives.

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          • Well, not sure what that means, but I will go with what you were saying previously, that is, better do something than do nothing. I wouldn’t really call apathy good for anybody.

            I don’t think people will be taking a course that they can’t back out of if they chose to do so. I also think violence against indigenous women is something we need to look into, and something we really need to do something about, and providing a scholarship on the subject is as good a place as any to start.

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          • True. Apathy is bad.

            Blowback is just as bad though.

            A random Google search result on Indigenous Blowback leads to this link for example: http://www.indigenouspolicy.org/index.php/ipj/article/view/285/278

            “After three years of relative silence, the U.S. press has finally “discovered” the crisis of tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors piling up on the U.S. border. Although the coverage often began with moving stories of the hardships these young migrants faced, it soon turned ugly. For right-wing pundits and politicians, the “humanitarian crisis” has become a crackdown on kids.

            The dominant narrative has been that foolish parents, perhaps duped by scheming criminal bands, are sending hapless children north to take advantage of loopholes in U.S. immigration practices. This is just plain wrong. On every count.”

            We in the movement are already exposed to this on both ends.

            We know that for example every case where Misty Mayo gets lost on a bus can lead to AoT just as much as Emily Cutler being strip searched when she gets overdosed on Xanax can lead her to forming a group called Southern California Against Forced Treatment.

            We know that Alyssa Gilderhus’ escape from Mayo Clinic can lead to celebrations of her rescue just as much as it can lead to medical professionals being even more disgusted by how they are attacked when it gets revealed that Alyssa Gilderhus’ mom had domestic charges imposed upon her so these medical professionals are blinded towards how all the issues stem from Alyssa Gilderhus’ psychiatrist deeming her able to think for herself inside the hospital but unable to think for herself when she was kidnapped and wanted to be kidnapped.

            And that’s you guys in the West where your reports and facilities exist (despite the fight being hard) unlike my country who has no one after the lone Filipina Professor Janice Cambri checked out cause only one other person helped her argue that involuntary confinement is torture under the latest version of the CRPD during the Mental Health Bill hearings.

            Indigenous people have it just as hard. Once the media picks up something about them – they almost always have to rely on whichever group is going to hand them some food and cling to that and they too are prone to in-fighting cause no one wants some antipsychiatrist indigenous person ruining the hand-outs that their group might be receiving just as oldhead would not want me to butt into her business even though my reply wasn’t even about offering any help as a man towards her feminist beliefs.

            Each of these are highly volatile situations that the scholarship could do good on but could also make worse. It’s too early to tell. But this is nothing new on both sides of the globe (East or West)

            From the same link above:

            “Consider the case of David. Both David’s parents live in the United States, where they had hoped to bring their son up due to the violence in his neighborhood. Salvadoran gangs had been hounding the boy to join them. Sometime after he refused, his body was found decapitated in a vacant lot on July 12. He was 10 years old. Family members were afraid even to go to his funeral for fear of retaliation. A study by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees found that more than half of the child migrants had reported fleeing violence and threats, and were likely eligible for international protection. If they’re deported, many could face the same fate as David.”

            From my side of the globe:


            “[Translation: This shouldn’t be alarming because this is normal, in the sense that if they need assistance, we are catering to those needs at different levels, even at the lowest or most basic levels.]

            Purisima said around 30,000 people have availed of psychosocial first aid, stress debriefing, and psychiatric treatments.”


            “But since then, proposals for the clearing of debris and rebuilding have been kept from the public eye. The Bagong Marawi Consortium’s failure to procure necessary legal documents is another pothole in the road to rehabilitation.

            Even citizens outside of the MAA have voiced their dissatisfaction with the slow progress. As IDPs attend talks hosted by Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM), there are complaints of lack of proper discourse between officials and evacuees wanting to voice their needs.

            Alumni from Mindanao State University (MSU) who are among those displaced by the war relay their experiences with the forums hosted by the government task force.”

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          • I know what you’re saying, but it comes across a bit like “victim blaming.” It is not the fault of a person working to create change that the protectors of the status quo attack to keep control of their little or big fiefdoms. It is for sure to be expected, and strategies should be in place to keep such things in check to the degree possible. But the harm is not done by the person challenging the status quo. Those who engage in the “blowback” and especially those who ORGANIZE and PROMOTE such “blowback” are the ones who deserve to be chastised. I know this does no good for the victims of a “blowback” experience, but I think it’s important to make certain we’re not saying people shouldn’t try to make big changes just because there will be a reaction from those in charge of the status quo. It’s part of the price of change.

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          • I don’t think it’s off the chart because I’ve been in a ward with a person who doesn’t understand our main local language (Tagalog) but he understood some English (too few to even make a conversation of) and he mainly spoke a provincial dialect but almost everyone in the ward was a Tagalog speaker so he was not only already in a scary situation in a place he didn’t know – he literally had no one except me as his roommate occassionally calming him down by handing him my blanket for example.

            …and if you look at it at a grander scale, this is nothing new:


            “Medical care that is provided to us is very minimal and general…. If you do not speak English, you cannot fuss, the only thing you can do is go to bed & suffer…. We have no privacy when our health record is being discussed…. When we’ve complained to the nurses, we get ridiculed with replies like: “You should have made better choices … ICE is not here to make you feel comfortable … our hands are [tied] … Well, we can’t do much you’re getting deported anyway … learn English before you cross the border … Mi casa no es su casa.”…. Our living situation is degrading and inhuman.[1]”

            See the reason why blowback is as much a danger as apathy is because when people sometimes form “well intentioned help” such as a service for indigenous people for example – apathy has the potential to be undone but it is also rebuilt sometimes when little things like what you are calling off the charts builds up into something big.

            For example, how did a course meant to fight (or at least research indigenous people) end up creating a conversation that assumes another person is blaming a refugee crisis, war, street gangs, etc., on a scholarship?

            It happens because one individual may support a cause like: I think violence against indigenous women is something we need to look into.

            But to them, this is also “just a course”.

            So I’m not singling you out because like I said it’s too early to tell and we just need to keep that in mind but these little things are the reason blowback as a term was invented.

            So much “support” for the cause but so much “dismissal” for a cause too.

            This is not just a course. This course is not only the lone Antipsychiatry scholarship an indigenous person can possibly obtain across the globe but they have to bleed so much just to possibly reach Canada.

            Unfortunately MIA ate my post on “I don’t think people will be taking a course that they can’t back out of if they chose to do so.” (although it could have been on my part)

            Desperate people don’t always have this convenience of choosing to back out of something when there is little alternative.

            That’s why I brought up Misty Mayo and Alyssa Gilderhus not just random refugee crisis, war, street gangs, etc. – because you’re not just creating a well intentioned activity.

            People’s lives are going to be affected by this and the people who they are going to deal with are also most likely people who may not understand the urgency of the course if the course is not executed well enough and these all creates potential blowbacks.

            So much focus on multiple subjects but then once something is controversial – who would most likely get ousted? Definitely the person who now has to deal with accusations of blaming a refugee crisis for example.


            Because he brought up a link that showed people who cared actually don’t care enough to understand the ramifications seriously?

            …and of course I’m just simulating the real “true” slippery slope because we’re just two posters talking but once blowback reaches its full slippage – this can end up being a boon to psychiatry like:

            “Oh here’s our mental health services that is so well funded so why bother with this indigenous scholarship that is only there cause you know some person saw a loophole to include studies on you that include psychiatric imprisonment as shown by this article.”

            Sure a lot of this can seem jokey for now because the scholarship just got introduced and like any formation within that scholarship – it’s not going to instantly lead to these kinds of thinking. It builds itself up little by little until someone sees the incentive of bringing this flaw in the roots of the scholarship up and if we do not perceive how important this scholarship is (not just now but going forward) these little opinions on why there’s a danger here will lead to more disconnected views such as “surely you’re not insinuating this or that” which plagues many minority groups across the world.

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          • I rather see this as part of the struggle to get minority studies and other sensitive issues into the classroom. Blow-back, flack, shrapnel, etc., it all comes with the job. Bonnie mentioned the slanders directed at Peter Breggin, and Thomas Szasz was, of course, very familiar with the same. I don’t see doing so as becoming a real boon for eugenic, or nugenic type programs, but all things, they say, are possible. I rather think there is more danger in not offering such research than there is in pursuing the matter wherever it should lead.

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          • True we both agree on this.

            My only contention on this is probably your dismissal of the word “blowback” because it’s a specific term:


            Sure I used it loosely (although as you can see from my earlier link – I’m not the only person who uses this specific term loosely) but you don’t just dismiss an entire term and call it shrapnel or flack.

            Doing so takes away the meaning of that word. It’s in the same veins of why Don Weitz talked about how psych wards changes the term “taking our human rights away” into “full privilege”.

            It’s in the same veins of a feminist dismissing the term toxic feminism in understanding feminist acceptance to a society.

            It’s in the same veins of why apathy is bad.

            You want to have an original conversation Frank with no links, you have to do your own grunt work and at least do a basic Google search on why a term is being mentioned in context and not just go off on a tangent about sharpnels or flacks as if to somehow impart an impression where blowback is not to be treated as seriously as apathy.

            The applications of words are key to how arguments are formed and interpreted as you can see in these comment section alone.

            It may come with the job but guess what? Like apathy, if whatever your job has it – then chances are your not going to build much of a community within that job cause you are going to lose as much co-workers as much as you gain new co-workers when these two real terms aren’t emphasized as specific terms that create, produce and enlarge real suffering.

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    • Even on purely pragmatic level–and I have other reasons besides pragmatism here–we need allies to get rid of psychiatry. And you don’t get allies unless you care and show in your actions that you care about other oppressions besides that one with which you are most concerned.

      This comment is so refreshing to read on MiA. Here’s Bonnie once again with the good take.

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  5. Someone in this exchange made the totally erroneous claim that I am linked to Scientology. I need to pout out that is both wrong and slanderous, I have never had any dealing whatever with Scientology. How horrible for anyone to be expressing wrongful slurs like this in Mad in America!

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      • The fact that I am slandered in the Houghton Post (as was Peter Breggin) is no reason to slander me here. It is not acceptable. I have absolutely no connection with Scientology and never have had. Other in other venues slander antipsychiatry activists as well as critical theorists by stating such connections in the hope to discredit their message I expect more from a Mad in America venue. Also when it comes to early work, I should be out, that yes, I worked in the 1980s with Don Weitz on the Phoenix Rising Collecive and in the 1980’s Don was in Ontario Coalition to Stop Electroshock, of which I was the co-chair along with shock survivor Shirley Johnson. Exactly what any of this is a bad things is an utter mystery to me. We all of us wrote articles against psychiatry. We all of us mounted active opposition to electroshock.

        Disagreement with positions is one thing. And I have no problem with that. I do have a problem with slander and slanderous innuendo. The fact that Scientology praised the Scholarship has absolutely whatever nothing to do with me. They praise everything antipsychiatry and even most stuff that is critical psychiatry.

        Peter Breggin stop writinging for Houghton Post because of the appalling inaccurate things said about him. By contrast, we expect to be safe writing in Mad in America.

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          • What rubbish, Paul Keith. The context is that of slanderous comments made elsewhere from people antagonistic to the introduction of certain topics into the educational sphere, as if these topics should be censored, and thus excluded from academic exchange, examination, and scrutiny. Of course, you have no problem ‘clicking and dragging’ this slander back to MIA. What’s the matter? You don’t have the creativity and originality to develop an argument of your own? The context is the title and subject of the very article you yourself are commenting on. It doesn’t seem to me that you are coming in on the side of academic freedom, quite the reverse, it seems to me that you don’t want these items included on the curriculum. If so, you don’t have send us on such a circuitous journey in making your point. A simple I don’t think mad studies or antipsychiatry or violence directed at indigenous women should be offered as research topics in institutions of higher education will do.

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          • “Moreover, you insinuated that my being linked with Don somehow nullified the things which I have done. All of this, I find offensive.”

            I didn’t insinuate anything of this sort Bonnie.

            I never used the words nullified and my post to @Slaying_the_Dragon_of_Psychiatry was insinuating this:

            “but don’t sell her efforts short too and glorify them as some utopian thinking. (Social justice and racism and chattel slavery I leave that to you or other guys that reply to you but Bonnie Burstow’s belief is not rooted in utopia. – She might believe in a utopia but her life story cancels all that out.)”

            Which was a reply to his comment about:

            “In brief, Bustow’s brand of antipsychiatric social justice utopianism isn’t just untenable, it’s a boon to psychiatry itself.”

            Edit: It’s all contained in one single full comment Bonnie. Everything from Don Weitz to Scientology to utopia to MLK Jr. and Frederick Douglas paraphrased quotes.

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          • You want your own blog? Is that it? Or are you and SlayingtheDragonofPsychiatry merely nitpicking? I don’t think you or SlayingtheDragon would be excluded from participation if you were accepted for a scholarship, which would include your qualms and anxieties about this or that. As I read it, you object to the scholarship program being offered though because you think it’s going to have some horrendous aftereffect on the world in general. Personally, I don’t see that happening.

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          • I don’t know where to start with this Frank. You went from asking me about the originality of my post to asking me whether I want my own blog or something.

            “As I read it, you object to the scholarship program being offered though because you think it’s going to have some horrendous aftereffect on the world in general. Personally, I don’t see that happening.”

            I didn’t object to the scholarship being offered AT ALL. Like no post of mine said anything related to this.

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      • You wrote the following “Bonnie’s so called early life is linked to Don Weitz rather than her own success. In current time period, she is linked to scientology,” This part is YOUR saying it and it is totally problematic. Don and I have both had successes from early on. And while linked to Don, I have at no time being associated with scientology–and it is after that that you go on to make reference to the things the Houghton Post says. This is the kind of thing that shouldn’t be happening in Mad in America. And no amount of rationalizing makes it okay.

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  6. Incidentally, if anyone is interested in other things I am doing in the Indigenous area that tries to establish links with antipsychiatry, I have created and am running a mini-conference at OISE/UT this Friday called “PsychOut Extended: The Psychiatrization of Indigenous People as a Continuation of Genocide.” We are expecting hundreds to turn up and it may help spark an important conversation about psychiatry in the Indigenous community. The keynote speaker, incidentally is Dr. Roland Chrisjohn–an Indigenous scholar, a Marxist, and while on a very different place on the left-right spectrum–an old time ally and friend of Thomas Szasz.

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          • To the mods, sorry. Ignore this report.

            I misclicked on the “report comment button” in this comment by oldhead. (I thought this comment is linked to her other comment which I reported.)

            Anyways, I guess I should contribute to the subject since I replied underneath it. (Didn’t really feel like replying since the topic strays away from the announcement Bonnie made.)

            People wanting to help others have a history of being labeled something. Eugenics doesn’t really compare to Genocide though and I think this is why people who could come to the conference should come. (I can’t afford it.)

            It’s most likely going to be a rare opportunity to gather something from this perspective since there is only 1 review for the Circle Game (and this is a Goodreads review not an Amazon one.)

            At the very least look up Residential School Syndrome because the standard views of racism and eugenics don’t match how the re-colonialism of these people are occurring. Usually it takes knowing an entire culture in a country for years just to get to this kind of snapshot look but I assume the advent of psychiatry have allowed this issue to be compartmentalized in Canada. (All these are just me hypothesizing about the keynote though since I don’t want my mis-click to derail the subject but this is nothing new for anyone who has an inkling on how a dominant culture would oppress minorities into acting closer to their ideals.)

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  7. Oldhead

    You said: “That’s about the most ridiculous statement I’ve heard this week, right up there with Richard’s statement that “conservatives” can never be 100% anti-psychiatry.”

    I stand by my comment that “conservatives” by definition cannot be 100% anti-psychiatry.

    Oldhead, you are still throwing out negative labels against my comment in another blog, BUT you have NEVER provided a single word or argument to refute my position. I hope other readers will read my comment referenced below and decide for themselves.


    Psychiatry DOES NOT exist in a bubble. I applaud Bonnie’s linking of other human rights struggles to the movement against psychiatry.

    Oldhead, very much related to your wrong position that “conservatives” CAN BE 100% anti-psychiatry, is your wrong position that an advanced political organization building anti-psychiatry struggle should NOT have a “Left” orientation, that is, contain language linking psychiatry to the capitalist system.

    Dragon Slayer was quoted above saying: “In brief, Burstow’s brand of antipsychiatric social justice utopianism isn’t just untenable, it’s a boon to psychiatry itself.”

    Just looking at Dragon Slayer’s positions on other major human rights struggles is proof enough as to why we SHOULD NOT be launching anti-psychiatry human rights organizations that somehow attempt to unite “Left” and Right” political activists by “diluting” and “watering down” our political analysis.

    The struggle against psychiatry is very much linked to other human rights struggles, AND is very much linked to the struggle against a class based capitalist system.

    The way to move people who currently have “Right Wing” views towards the “Left” is to tell people the truth about what is going on in the world and the various connections of ALL forms of oppression to a class based profit system.


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    • Dragon Slayer’s comments are his own. To the extent that they truly support an anti-psychiatry position without going off into “left field” I will support them.

      You seem to conclude that there is some universally agreed upon analysis to “water down,” whereas I see such an analysis as a work in progress.

      What puzzles me is why you approach this as though it is a foregone conclusion that what you call the “left” is opposed to psychiatry. This was once closer to the truth than it is now, but don’t you think you should be spending more time educating the left about psychiatry before you imply that there IS a “left” analysis (aside from what we might come up with ourselves)?

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      • Oldhead

        You said:

        “Dragon Slayer’s comments are his own. To the extent that they truly support an anti-psychiatry position without going off into “left field” I will support them.”

        Of course DS’s views are his own, and unfortunately his views seem to be solidly stuck in “Right Field” at this time, and NOT “Left Field.” This is why he seems to criticize or attack most human rights struggles, especially those that link various forms of oppression to a class based capitalist system. Why do you continue to “enable” his politics by somehow promoting the view that he is “100% anti-psychiatry?”

        Once again Oldhead, you totally avoided responding to the content of my above comment.

        You have NOT responded to my criticism as to how you are tending to place psychiatry in a “bubble.”

        You have never responded to my above link (https://www.madinamerica.com/2018/09/how-doctors-became-drug-dealers/#comment-140258) to a deeper analysis as to how a strongly entrenched “conservative” outlook today is incompatible with a truly ALL THE WAY anti-psychiatry political position.

        Of course there are many shortcoming in how Left Wing activists today fail to understand the oppressive role of psychiatry and the Medical Model, BUT the way to overcome these shortcomings IS NOT to attempt to unite “Left” and “Right” anti-psychiatrist activists in some anti-psychiatry organization by watering down our political analysis.

        One of the solutions to this problem (the ignorance of the Left) is to actively link modern day capitalism to the evolution, function, and current role of psychiatry and the Medical Model in today’s world.


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        • No Richard, it is you who has been dodging questions left and right, and everybody’s looking. You repeatedly neglect to define what you mean by “identity politics” for example, so it is impossible to discuss the issue in an intelligent way. And as I recall you defined “conservative” by giving an example, not a definition.

          There are no “shortcomings” in the so-called left’s analysis of psychiatry; there IS no analysis, even among the most supposedly “revolutionary” organizations. Attacking psychiatry is seen as attacking science and embracing superstition, and the only demands we hear are for “better conditions for mental patients” and “more money for mental health.” So it is bizarre that you’re looking for some sort of Marxist-Leninist “advanced line” via which to define the AP movement (and exclude “non-leftists”), when our understanding of the issues vis. a vis. psychiatry is the most advanced in history, and certainly more so than any of the most readily recognized “revolutionary” formations. This is another reason the movement must be led by survivors. And it is “the left’s” responsibility to reach out to us, not just hand out applications to be certified as a “legitimate struggle” and expect us to sit by the mailbox anxiously awaiting a response.

          Would you also declare that a “conservative” woman could never be a 100% feminist?

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          • Oldhead

            You said: “Would you also declare that a “conservative” woman could never be a 100% feminist?”

            I would answer, ABSOLUTELY!!! – a thousand times over.

            Most “conservatives” (especially hardcore conservatives) do NOT support a women’s right to control her own body and reproductive rights – that is, the guaranteed right to have an abortion.


            And I would also say (as I would with anti-psychiatry activists) that one MUST develop a clear class analysis of society and understand the connections of a class based capitalist society to the preservation of women’s oppression AND all other forms of inequality in order to qualify as 100% feminist.

            Once again, Oldhead, women’s oppression (like psychiatric oppression) DOES NOT exist in a BUBBLE. We must understand all its historical origins, and those forces in society that have benefited from and promoted women’s oppression over the centuries.

            And NO, there could NEVER be an advanced organization fighting against women’s oppression that diluted its politics to accommodate
            Right Wing evangelical forces with deeply CONSOLIDATED Right Wing belief systems. What radical women activists would want to join such an organization?

            Oldhead, here is another example where you place someone’s “identity” above a class analysis, and more recently you have done the same with “survivors.” And NO, you can’t bastardize a class analysis by making up some analysis that women and survivors are really some “quasi class,” in order to justify focusing on “identity” above a genuine class analysis.

            It is far more understandable (and defenseable) when other, less politically experienced, people begin to organize themselves around their “identity” as an oppressed section of people.

            Yes, many of these types of organizations have played a positive role in the history of human rights struggles. Unfortunately, many ended up drifting into reformism and co-optation by the System. However, today we are NOW in a different historical period – we need to move BEYOND “identity” where ever we can. And YOU, of all people should know this to be true.

            Oldhead you have promoted yourself as an anti-capitalist/pro-socialist political activist. You have consistently argued for a class analysis in your comments here at MIA. And now, suddenly you want to abandon such an analysis, and want to reconcile “Left” and Right” in some anti-psychiatry human rights organization.

            You have compromised your politics and class analysis NOT with some people who sort of just “lean” to the *Right*, BUT with individuals who have a CONSOLIDATED Right Wing perspective on almost every major political issue of contention in today’s world.

            This is an untenable position (of *Identity Politics*), and a surefire way to sabotage any efforts to build the anti-psychiatry struggle. Do you really believe that advanced anti-psychiatry activists would want to join an organization that allowed (by diluting its basic principles) hardcore CONSOLIDATED Right Wing people to feel welcome?


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          • Who says basic principles need to be diluted for conservative-identifying folks to come on board? You’re assuming again that all “conservatives” are the same and that none are able to work together with people who see things differently and learn from them. Yes, there are even conservatives who are pro-choice. There are a growing number of younger conservatives who are very environmentally conscious. I just read an impressive story about a super right-wing Tea Party US representative who went to jail and had his eyes radically opened to the oppression of prisoners and of black people and has done a total political 180.

            I say, you create the organization on the principles you believe are necessary, and if someone identifying as “conservative” is interested, they are welcome to come. They’re not welcome to undermine the values of the organization, however.

            I was privileged to work for 20 years with the Court Appointed Special Advocates program in Portland, OR. I managed volunteers who went out into the homes and lives of foster youth who were abuse/neglect victims and tried to get them back to a safe home and protect them while in care. Many of my volunteers were of a conservative bent, though on the average, they tended to be liberal. Some of the more conservative folks were EXCELLENT advocates, including helping get kids off of psychiatric drugs. And some had their own epiphanies or growth experiences in terms of understanding poverty, racism, domestic abuse, and the oppressive psychiatric system. So I know from experience this can happen.

            Of course, I did have to fire a couple of folks for making unapologetically racist or sexist comments or otherwise violating our policies or our values as a group. They still had to live within the group values and expectations, and some couldn’t do it. (I fired a few “liberals,” too!) But we’d have been a poorer organization if we excluded all “conservatives” from our ranks.

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          • Men have no right to declare what a feminist position is, other than to add their two cents to the conversation when asked; at least they should accept that they don’t get a vote. I have my own opinions about feminist theory based on my experience and observation, but I don’t expect women to accept them as binding.

            Likewise I see your constant breathing down my neck for trying to encourage anti-psychiatry organization among “survivors” to be similarly contradictory. Apparently you don’t accept the right of women to define their own struggles, have their own spaces, etc. without this being dismissed as “identity politics.”

            I guess we’ll never know since you refuse to define the term. I’ll try some prompts: Were the Black Panthers an example of “identity politics”? What is your mind is the difference between “identity politics” and self-determination?

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          • Oldhead

            Feminism is both a political construct and a human rights political movement. You do NOT have to have a vagina or identify as a women to understand what it is or take a position on it.

            Sometime in the near future I plan to go more deeply into what is *Identity Politics* and how it manifests itself and can be divisive in current political movements.

            But for now we can learn as we go. There are basically two ways we learn about how the world works and determine what is truth. There is DIRECT experience and there is learning through INDIRECT experience (that is through theory and the experience of others).

            Oldhead, in these discussions you have consistently overemphasized, and also made a PRINCIPLE out of DIRECT experience as being the only form of learning that REALLY MATTERS. This is flat out WRONG and a clear example of *Identity Politics.*

            You do not have to fall off a latter to understand the principles of gravity.

            You do NOT have to have gone to Vietnam to understand FULLY that the Vietnam war was wrong , AND to organize vehement resistance against that war.

            There are Caucasian historians who deeply understand slavery and racism and have written definitive books on the subject.

            And there are men and non psychiatric survivors who deeply understand the nature of women’s oppression and psychiatric oppression. They have gathered this knowledge through multiple forms of indirect experience, including observation regarding the world around them, reading, AND perhaps hearing in great detail the DIRECT experience of clients, friends and family members who have been directly harmed and/or oppressed by this system.

            Of course the DIRECT experience of those people who identify as women and psychiatric survivors is EXTREMELY important to evaluate and consider BEFORE speaking or taking up activities involving these movements.

            BUT the mere fact of someone’s “identity” as a member of an oppressed group does NOT make them right or preclude us from disagreeing with them. Or perhaps even having a MORE CORRECT evaluation of this form of oppression, and also helping to develop the best strategies for ending their form of oppression.

            To use some extreme examples to make my point, no one of ANY “identity” should hesitate to criticize Kitty Dukasis or Kellyanne Conway or Ivanka Trump. AND I will say, with great confidence, that Kellyanne Conway and Ivanka Trump ARE NOT feminists, no matter how much they WANT to label themselves that way.


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          • As insightful and empathic as someone on the outside of an experience might be, there is no way that a non-psychiatric survivor can have the same “deep understanding” as someone who lived through this, especially once that person has processed it over a period of time, connecting the dots of their own experience to arrive at the truth of the matter. Observation and absorbing the stories of others could never trump direct experience.

            My partner not only witnessed my journey every step of the way, he also worked in social services for a brief stint, and would come home saying how he was finally starting to get what I went through, based on what he was seeing happen in that “social service” world, especially how the “funders” dictated everything, without any regard for client services. Clients were simply a commodity, to justify this “non-profit” business. He was horrified to discover what was coming to light, up close and personal, as he worked through his tenure there.

            And still, he’d say to me that he could not imagine what it would feel like to be on the wrong end of that hierarchy, the way I and so many others have, and he saw why I’d been saying that you have to go through it to really get the full impact of it. He finally got that, and stopped arguing with me, and started instead to listen to me, with some serious respect for my experience. We’ve both grown a lot since he began to understand this. To me, it was totally freeing.

            There is a big difference between knowledge and wisdom. Wisdom comes from living through an experience, not learning about it second hand–through books, witnessing, etc. The direct impact of what the experience feels like in the body and how the mind processes these intense feelings are missing in the latter case, and that’s vital to knowing the truth.

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          • @Richard,

            While it’s true we men are allowed to take a position no different than any human whether we consider ourselves men, women, transexual, gender fluid or otherwise. There is a case for why women can only understand women like this recent retweet of mine of Dr. Caroline Madden’s post:

            Source: https://twitter.com/cmaddenmft/status/1044954235991805952


            “I’m with you. No harm in asking for a date. But, TSA can have her pat down, delay her flight, strip search her. Some men take “no” as humiliating & react badly. That’s why women lie & say they’re married. It legit is the only excuse that doesn’t upset guys.”

            Biological reproductive organ differences aside, it would be no different if a human being threw bleach on our pants because we were manspreading like this link shows:


            Only the people who ever had the bleach incident happen to them could understand not because of their gender or identity politics but because even if bystanders can understand our situation – we’re still the one who has to walk home and change our pants of all things or as you said:

            “There is DIRECT experience and there is learning through INDIRECT experience (that is through theory and the experience of others).”

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          • Alex

            Thanks for your comment.

            You are right in suggesting that the wisdom in COMBINING direct experience with both theoretical capability AND the skill and and ability to articulate all that higher understanding with deep human emotion is, indeed, a powerful force in the world for understanding and change.

            The voices of oppressed people who are able to both deeply understand and express to others their experience in a way that truly touches the mind and hearts of others, can often make them the very best spokespeople for any movement. I totally support the importance of bringing forward and promoting “survivor” leadership in the movement against psychiatric oppression. This has always been my position at MIA.

            My comments in this blog comment section have been long and extensive, raising many important points about how to understand and advance the struggle against psychiatric oppression. This includes finding a way to create advanced political organizations that can provide some leadership in maximizing the forward march of our movement.

            I have taken on two important counter trends that can be divisive and hold back progress in political movements: 1) Is the negative role of *Identity Politics* and 2) Is the importance of not diluting our politics by definitely having a Left orientation that clearly makes the connection between psychiatric oppression and a class based capitalist system.

            It is unclear to me if your above comment is meant to criticize ALL that I been struggling for and against in this discussion. OR are you merely articulating and emphasizing the intrinsic value of direct experience in coming to know truth?


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          • Richard, you are arguing with your own projections. You have no idea what my full analysis might be, only assumptions about what the logical implications of something I might say must be according to your personal formula for revolution. For example:

            the mere fact of someone’s “identity” as a member of an oppressed group does NOT make them right or preclude us from disagreeing with them.

            Exactly right. If someone were to disagree with that I would consider it identity politics too. However — your ability to offer a detached analysis, or tips based on your experience and ability to extrapolate from other struggles might be helpful. But in the end, when it comes time for that group to make collective decisions about its definitions, direction and demands, you don’t get a vote, unless you are a member of that group. This is not “identity politics,” it is self-determination, whether you’re talking about Black people, lesbians, psychiatric survivors, or any other oppressed group.

            Btw you have a marked tendency to “define” terms by giving examples rather than definitions.

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          • Richard,

            “OR are you merely articulating and emphasizing the intrinsic value of direct experience in coming to know truth?”

            Mostly this, yes. Not just living through an adverse experience, but getting to the other side, reflecting on the experience, putting into the context of our lives, healing from whatever trauma may have occurred from the experience, shifting and transforming from it, learning a deeper layer of ourselves.

            This is how we trigger our innate wisdom–including radical self-resourcefulness–for the purpose of integrating this into our lives in order to expand our own consciousness and grow in our feeling of self-worth, so that we can move forward and perhaps use this experience to help society become better, more sound, just, fair, and equitable.

            I do agree with you that our elitist money-based class system is a big problem here and only serves to feed injustice. After all, elitism and class-based needs are what created this damn system in the first place. I would definitely place psychiatry–and the entire mh system–in a subset of that category because it is a product of elitism and classism.

            That IS the problem here because it is in direct contradiction to individual and social well-being, I believe. An elitist society/community is inherently unsound, unjust, and out of balance, what Krishnamurti called “a sick society.” Can’t have elitism and social well-being at the same time, imo; that’s an impossibility because it is a direct contradiction.

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          • Steve

            You said:

            “I say, you create the organization on the principles you believe are necessary, and if someone identifying as “conservative” is interested, they are welcome to come. They’re not welcome to undermine the values of the organization, however. ”

            I agree with this statement COMPLETELY.

            I am strongly advocating that in order to build a powerful anti-psychiatry movement against ALL forms of psychiatric abuse:

            1) We need a strong set of (Left leaning) principles that exposes and condemns psychiatry’s oppressive role in the world today, INCLUDING drawing clear connections between psychiatry’s meteoric growth over the past 40 years and the profit based capitalist system. A system that now also clearly relies on psychiatry for its important social role of controlling and anesthetizing vulnerable and potentially rebellious sections of the population.

            2) We should welcome all survivors, FAMILY MEMBERS of survivors, AND non survivors (including professionals) who can agree with the organization’s principles. Currently, professionals would only represent a tiny minority in such an organization. We should advocate for, and promote, survivor leadership in the organization.

            At this juncture in history, to promote a “survivor only” anti-psychiatry organization, represents a form of *Identity Politics,* AND limits our potential growth in numbers and strength.

            AND if “Right leaning” individuals are attractive to this organization’s “all the way” anti-psychiatry principles and can abide by the organization’s code of ethics, BY ALL MEANS, they should be welcomed.

            This would provide an excellent opportunity for all members to politically struggle over ALL the important questions of the day, while focusing on the target of psychiatric oppression.


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    • Hi Richard. We’ve never talked before (plus I don’t know why your post somehow got here, I thought you guys were talking about this in another article) but total numbers of people do count so yes uniting both the American Left and the American Right does water things down – but only if people are “united” based on a banner rather than based on the truth.

      However truth is troublesome, your Leftist truth is not someone else’ Republican truth. No different than your Leftist truth may not be similar to someone’s Leftist truth.

      So you can’t move people with what you claim to be truth alone. It must be as you revealed about the class based system but then what is a class based system especially for indigenous people? An umbrella term that doesn’t even quite reflect how indigenous people are often diverse tribes even among one geography that is far smaller than that of say the geography of 1 American county or one American state because they are forced to adopt and modify their feelings towards the dominant cultures.

      By insisting a particular Left truth, this leads to blowback that causes one group to push back against another group (not even among groups of enemies but groups of people accusing each other of being Left or Right) so it ends up enabling identity politics too and usually not even identity politics at that but identities of the Left and Right. Worse, often American Left and Right. (Sometimes this does devolve into a sort of grander “modern day” conservative and “modern day” liberals that can include neighboring countries like Canada but what about the “modern day” indigenous people? How can these minorities (let alone individuals within these minorities) get a word in when these two large terms Left and Right truths can immediately get their beliefs washed away in favor of what is truth for someone else?)

      You already said:

      “One of the solutions to this problem (the ignorance of the Left) is to actively link modern day capitalism to the evolution, function, and current role of psychiatry and the Medical Model in today’s world.”

      I don’t view this as a solution but I do view this as a key to unlocking a solution so why didn’t you start your comment on this article with this so that you can actively explain this link to readers wanting to know about how indigenous people are linked to modern day capitalism?

      Why start with this?

      “very much related to your wrong position that “conservatives” CAN BE 100% anti-psychiatry, is your wrong position that an advanced political organization building anti-psychiatry struggle should NOT have a “Left” orientation, that is, contain language linking psychiatry to the capitalist system.”

      and talk about some 100% issue and sell people short on the evolution, function, and current role of psychiatry and the Medical Model in today’s world and how it would affect and is currently affecting indigenous people?

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    • So how would you feel about engaging antipsychiatry folks who identify as “conservative” and finding out what made them decide to be “antipsychiatry” and to see where they’re at politically and to discuss your reasons for taking a “leftist” political analysis as essential to attacking psychiatry’s validity and power? Isn’t that the same thing we have to do with other left-leaning folks who are shouting out for “parity for mental health” and against “pill shaming” and other such unhelpful belief systems?

      Let’s be honest, there is not a big “left-leaning” (or “right-leaning” for that matter) movement to eliminate psychiatry. Why not collect all the allies we can find who are open to looking at the bigger picture? I’ve talked to lots of conservative folks who recognize the role of corruption and the impact of Big Pharma on medical practice. Why not start from a point of agreement and work toward educating in the areas where a person may need more information?

      I think it’s important not to make generalizations about “conservative” people. Sure there are some who are very rigid and who don’t really think through their positions, but there are others who are thoughtful and intelligent and open to reason. While I agree that an analysis that doesn’t include the impact of the profit motive and a harsh critique the neoliberal/neoconservative capitalistic society we’re part of will always fall short of the mark, but since most people aren’t there and need to be educated regardless of their political affiliations, why not just try to educate anyone who is compassionate about the plight of the survivors of the system, and work from where they’re at? If we don’t, we’re going to have a very small “movement,” IMHO.

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      • Steve and others

        Let me clarify my position on many of these questions. There will be many groups and organizations and even webzines (as there are already a few like MIA) that are (or will become) either very critical of psychiatry, and possibly some that emerge calling for the outright abolishment of psychiatry. These many groups may include some people with mixed political perspectives varying from the Left to Right on the political spectrum. Some of these groupings may have a small positive effect on the growth of the movement against psychiatric oppression.

        However, what is absolutely essential in any growing human rights movement such as anti-psychiatry, is the need for an ADVANCED political organization (to STAND OUT from all the others) that concentrates some of best and most dedicated ideological and political thinkers, who can develop a radical program for change and are also capable of organizing direct action type resistance against all forms of psychiatric oppression.

        Any serious examination of political history in the last 100 years bears out the importance of such ADVANCED radical organizations. During this historical period those organizations that had a clear Left orientation (that is, on some level critical of capitalism) were the ones who had the MOST dynamic impact pushing forward these major struggles and movements.

        Many of these groups were actually led by socialist or communist type activists. The actual program and basis of unity of these organizations (while vaguely anti-capitalist) WAS NOT based on agreement with socialism or communism as a future goal. Although many activists in these organizations eventually grew to believe that socialism would be a better alternative than capitalism, as their understanding of economics and politics developed over time.

        Organizations WITHOUT such a Left orientation very quickly and easily morphed into reformism and some form of co-optation which gutted their politics and/or they ended up selling out the very movement that gave rise to their existence. Parts of the “Peer” and “Alternative” movement in today’s “mental health” system might be an analogous example to what happen back in the 60’s.

        Unfortunately, even many of the far Left organizations eventually suffered a similar fate, although some were outright destroyed by government agents and other more serious attacks by the System.

        Many people reading and writing on the MIA website may end up starting or joining some sort of organization opposed to psychiatric oppression. My big question and concern here is: WHO will be starting the VITALLY NECESSARY AND NEEDED ADVANCED ANTI-PSYCHIATRY ORGANIZATION? Such an organization DOES NOT and SHOULD NOT require a pro socialist perspective for membership, but it must have a LEFT leaning program and compass that, at the very least, identifies the very real connections between psychiatry and modern capitalism.

        It is unfortunate that some activists writing here at MIA who are definitely anti-capitalist AND pro socialist want to abandon these politics when it comes to forming an anti-psychiatry organization. They know that even a world WITHOUT psychiatry (which is really impossible under capitalism) would still be a horrible nightmare for millions of people around the world. They know that the capitalist system is destroying the planet and could start a nuclear type Imperialist war at any moment. A war that would kill millions , if not, outright destroy the entire planet.

        For those who truly understand how dangerous the planet is at this moment because of capitalist/Imperialist type competition, it is very narrow AND selfish to focus SOLELY on anti-psychiatry actions WITHOUT making all the connections to capitalism. What kind of a world are we trying to build here with ANY of our so-called political activism?


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        • True Richard but how about these two advanced people that don’t get along?



          Copy paste from that link:

          Thomas Szasz had a radically critical opinion about the work of Basaglia. In 1986, in the preface to the book by Giorgio Antonucci ‘I pregiudizi e la conoscenza critica alla psichiatria’, Szasz writes the following words about the misunderstanding of the ideas of Basaglia:

          ‘Basaglia became famous for having abolished the psychiatric hospitals in Italy, statement as absurd as saying that mental diseases are diseases like all the others’. ‘Basaglia, […] never ceased to practice genuine psychiatry, fact that basically meant to reinforce, rather than to weaken, the legitimacy of the psychiatric interventions against the will of the affected persons, having transferred the place in which the commitment occurs from the psychiatric hospital to the civil hospital’.[28]

          End quote

          These two people are as advanced as they come in the fight against psychiatry.

          They are like the names we bring up that have fought for us and done loads of advanced (or at least year long critical successful elements) and they both vehemently disagree as far as their Wikipedia-fied mental mindsets are concerned and this diversity causes them to do what we know them as doing for exposing psychiatry.

          You’re right:

          “Organizations WITHOUT such a Left orientation very quickly and easily morphed into reformism and some form of co-optation which gutted their politics and/or they ended up selling out the very movement that gave rise to their existence. Parts of the “Peer” and “Alternative” movement in today’s “mental health” system might be an analogous example to what happen back in the 60’s.”

          Except this is not the 60s and the movement has to grow beyond the 60s but many of the steps have taken a step back or have to accommodate new elements introduced by the growth of the mental health industry and the shrinkage of anti-psychiatry in terms of building up a valid image the pre-DSM III age of psychiatry was under threat of.

          And I say shrinkage not in terms of users or number of people but also in terms of it not being the 60s.

          For ex.

          “The actual program and basis of unity of these organizations (while vaguely anti-capitalist) WAS NOT based on agreement with socialism or communism as a future goal.”

          The majority couldn’t be vaguely pro-capitalist because there was no internet technology that forces people to say do crowdfunding – which is a combination of a sort of pre-late stage/free market capitalist supply and demand principle mixed with the activist views that the American left is more widely known for than the neo-conservatives/social conservatives of those times would have supported.

          And I doubt any one who really knows how difficult this battle is, is going to say them posting on a blog engine provided by the consumerism of a growing internet technology that saw the rise of the term blog thanks to ARPANET or BBS selling their soul is what counts for Advanced unification.

          For example,

          “WHO will be starting the VITALLY NECESSARY AND NEEDED ADVANCED ANTI-PSYCHIATRY ORGANIZATION? Such an organization DOES NOT and SHOULD NOT require a pro socialist perspective for membership, but it must have a LEFT leaning program and compass that, at the very least, identifies the very real connections between psychiatry and modern capitalism.”

          In my view as an Anarcho-capitalist, you do. You have to provide a service equal or greater to that of MIA or you contribute to MIA to build up such an audience and then this entrepreneurial service will teach you how to best service a market this way.

          But do I want some HUGE left leaning organization to silence or turn my voice into a minority and accuse me of being a double agent that shouldn’t be trusted because they have earlier movements that you already admit kind of didn’t really “won” the war against psychiatry? (Debatable reasons aside.)

          Probably not. Cause I don’t want any antipsychiatry movement to lose again. I don’t want moral victories. I may not be able to actually offer the miracles of war that would bring down psychiatry but I don’t love this reality where psychiatry is winning.


          Even among your average AnCap Facebook group like this recent FB post that asks:

          Would you hire a statists for a job that required critical thinking?

          A fellow AnCap (I presume he’s AnCap cause that’s sort of the name of the group – it’s not a huge topic – more of your standard joke topic) accused me of adding a fallacy because I added elements to my answer that makes it seem that only statists people can be critical thinkers because my post started with Yes, I would hire a statist if they can show me they are far better than an AnCap person I want to hire:

          To elaborate my answer to that person, I wrote this underneath that post:

          ” I would even go further than that and say the job requires me to earn capital to hire more capable people and a capable person willing to work with me (regardless of which one of us is the boss or the senior co-worker) allows both of us to become better critical thinkers in establishing a competent service that would competitively compete against other services.”

          So even in my average FB group where I barely post and I’m not supposed to be this AnCap history professor/multi-Mises.org reader, I have to “re-address” what AnCap 101 is to these same people that should know what the basics of free markets are supposed to be without me needing to write a follow-up reply (but I had to because the 1 person who replied didn’t seem to agree and was accusing me of establishing a fallacy) to which I wrote:

          “Of course I can add my own rules. It’s the growth of my business/service that’s on the line which is why I’m hiring a critical thinking person to begin with. If I’m not even allowed to add anything to my hiring process how in the world would I even be able to properly gauge the critical thinking capacity of a person I’m hiring? The only fallacy here is that I’m not actually hiring a person yet but the question never said I should actually be hiring a person. It asks me if I would hire someone and since I believe in capitalism I would hire the best possible personnel in a heart beat and since I’m an anarchist, I know the world is too chaotic to even be sure if what I judge to be a critical thinking person and have already hired is the best person in my immediate vicinity until I work with that person even if they ace the interview so of course I’ll keep adding conditions, keep firing and rehiring employees – everything to earn more capital and invest in more services so that I can better create a world that not only matches with my own but encourages others who disagree or agree with me to work with me for that same vision either as employees, consumers or some other type of transaction.

          It’s the growth of my business/service that’s on the line. Not yours. (Unless you want to hand me over your entire business. I’d be cool with that too even though I’m anti-welfare)”

          And this is like a standard joke thread. They should already know the free market plenty more times than me but dogma and the ease of technology to reply and gives short answers leads to most saying “No” or “It depends”. (but keep in mind this is again just a joke thread there’s like 8 comments.)

          So (I’m not trying to convince you) cause you have to like compartmentalize all our replies into one single reply but to answer your question:

          “What kind of a world are we trying to build here with ANY of our so-called political activism?”

          We’re not building anything here. If Robert Whitaker for example gets debunked further (I think it is in this Jim Flannery interview that Whitaker said a Boston Radio host has done it to him already but as you already mentioned, psychiatry debates have always built a culture around de-fanging any critic of the system: https://protestapa.com/)

          Direct youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=9&v=Oxvwhto44Qs

          So once something like this blog becomes re-viralized or gets picked up by the MSM, it’s like the case of having all the eggs in one basket.

          Everything built here and improved here is either going to make this place stronger or it’s going to fall apart. Either way it’s nothing new in history.

          Growth and Paradigm Shifts rapidly changes the way we think and converse across all facets of life. That’s still the planet.

          Always has been dangerous. Keeps getting more dangerous. Sometimes gets less dangerous, other times becomes more dangerous for certain minorities. (We’re not even talking indigenous people here, the current planet is more dangerous to every other Earthling that isn’t a homo-sapien while we as a species gnaw at each other but we have temporary comforts like being able to post on a blog that other species can’t directly do to show how many of them are being oppressed.)

          But there’s also the other reality that makes this reality much more richer.

          For every place that builds and has to weather the storms of debates and diverse voices, communities flourish and diversity produces stepping stones whether these stones become beachheads for the war or just a news report that says “in this country on this date there’s a meeting for indigenous people” or there’s a vast organic recharge in a movement that says “CAPA e-mails will now tell you before hand whether an indigenous keynote speech will be uploaded online or not so that you don’t have to keep asking or squinting at a blackboard for what the names of these key people are in an e-mail attachment” – these little changes are what leads to actual victories.

          Szasz will not be Ssasz if there was no market for a term known as “The Myth of Mental Illness”. He could have been famous in other books but those words are associated to him. He’s linked to that forever.

          Same thing with Basaglia. Had he not made Gorizia a successful place that empowered psychiatry – he wouldn’t have created the sleeping dragon. He wouldn’t have developed the patience or the elements that would lead to the Basaglia Law despite his death. All those individuals in that anarchy situation, had most of them not self regulated after Franco listened to them and made themselves marketable to a society that deems them as sub-human – there would have been no leverage for the Basaglia Law. It could have still made him famous but the law would have been stuck in theory land.

          All this exists because regardless of identity politics, as you said:

          “what is absolutely essential in any growing human rights movement such as anti-psychiatry, is the need for an ADVANCED political organization (to STAND OUT from all the others) that concentrates some of best and most dedicated ideological and political thinkers, who can develop a radical program for change and are also capable of organizing direct action type resistance against all forms of psychiatric oppression.”

          But the thing with who is the best or who is not the best or who is going to become the best is that it has always stood upon the shoulders of giants from the past.

          The best never got stuck in permanently worshiping these giants as statues of bygone victories.

          The best has always learned. Regardless of whether they adopted or softened or hardened their realities once they have to become the best rather than their heroes but it’s always been the freedom of any person to “sell” their view of freedom to build a world that is freer. Regardless of whatever space opens up in reality.

          Failure or success – the best learns and the best becomes the best not because they are the best. They just have to be the best and then history lists them down as some survivorship bias built icon (be they villain, hero or flash in the pans) as these so great people who rose above their calling even though they didn’t really rise like some sort of Hercules. They really just were in a horrible horrible spot and a bunch of them definitely were not going to just stand idly by so someone has to go down in history when that time comes and sell the narrative but it has always been built by growing numbers and diverse cultures that can set aside who is my buddy and who is not.

          If my Ancap buddy is going to backstab me and I have gained information on that – I’m definitely going to be one of those that stops him even if he just wants to get me banned on a Facebook group. It’s human nature.

          So setting aside this relativistic theory of opinions, we need serious examinations with regards to indigenous people under this comments.

          I don’t live in Canada. I can’t say buy the award winning Filipino movie Tu Pug Imatuy about the indigenous group of Lumads in my country to support the antipsychiatry scholarship.

          That’s still in Canada and whoever visits or watches a series of Bonnie Burstow events or whoever Alex Jones the whole Anti-psychiatry Scholarship training sessions – they still are the ones who have the potential to make us all view these information on a freer platform like youtube or some sort of Netflix/Peer2Peer streaming service if my country men can’t afford or can’t be bothered to say order The Other Mrs. Smith on top of other expensive books (compared to your avg. marketed towards the cheap e-book/book buyer crowds of most Kindle books) in order to inform myself so that I can actually get out of this current trap I’m in. (A trap that forces me to have almost zero time to read a book on my leisure days.)

          That’s the kind of world I see myself living in and I don’t just want to build an alternative. I want all the best guys. The most diverse guys. I want them to train me when I can afford them and I also don’t want to slack off. I don’t care if I’m on the sidelines or inside a psych ward. I’m going to move and I’m going to rest and I’m going to move bar none.

          I told this to Lucinda Meyer awhile ago when I donated to her 8 hrs. ago in a FB bday fundraiser that suppose to go to the Benzodiazepine Information Coalition (but even Lucinda admits she doesn’t how FB fundraiser quite works and my post was so long FB kept loading once I clicked on the donate button so I had to paste my optional post under the comments)

          …but regardless of what I did (that’s why I’m not going to link to her donation link because I don’t want to be accused of being a salesperson or creating a dummy FB account for money) but my last paragraph to her – I think best ends this post of what world I want to build:

          “Breathe. Strive. Breathe. We need more people like you who makes fundraisers on their birthdays. I need more people like you to keep me aligned with the reality of a planet that either sucks or leeches upon the fleeting hope I have for the human race. At least before I rest and recharge myself once again for the next bout of hopeleechness handed to me by my doctors/former doctors/legal guardians/relatives and people claiming to be my friends.

          The battle continues…”

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          • @Richard

            I don’t write for most people. I write only to respond to your post.

            You used the words consolidate which means:

            ” To unite into one system or whole; combine: consolidated five separate agencies into a single department.
            2. To make strong or secure; strengthen: She consolidated her power during her first year in office.
            3. To make firm or coherent; form into a compact mass.”

            If your reply is long for example and I made it longer because I united both my reply and your reply by addressing them – would they not become longer?

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    • Why alienate potential allies when you don’t have to do so? I think making the overthrow of psychiatric oppression dependent upon the overthrow of the capitalistic economic system, and vice versa, throws in a completely unnecessary complication into the equation. If Slaying the Dragon of Psychiatry would weaken our movement by descrying alliances with other people beset by oppression, you do the same when you would tie getting rid of psychiatric oppression to economic and social revolution. I would be very wary of becoming too inflexibly rigid, and ideologically myopic. Were there a tunnel to be traveled through, we wouldn’t want it to become a living grave, would we? That which “the other world” and “the classless society” have in common is going to be with us for some time to come.

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      • I’m not opposed to creating alliances with other people beset by oppression. That’s a gross misunderstanding and mischaracterization of my critique of Bustow’s, and Richard’s style of antipsychiatry. I’m not trying to weaken antipsychiatry. I’m trying to strengthen it against what is making it weak. I hope that it’s clear that I agree with most everyone here, as far as I can tell, that there is a dire need to educate the masses, both liberal and conservative, about psychiatry. But I agree with you Frank that it is completely unnecessary to tie antipsychiatry to the overthrow of the capitalistic system. In fact, it is the attempt to overthrow the capitalistic system that has led, and will continue to lead to the flourishing of psychiatry.

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        • Dragon Slayer

          You said: “But I agree with you Frank that it is completely unnecessary to tie antipsychiatry to the overthrow of the capitalistic system.”

          These are YOUR words not mine, and part of your on going mischaracterization of my views on these questions.

          To say that an anti-psychiatry organization should be “Left leaning,” that is, make the real connections between psychiatry and capitalism, IS NOT calling for the “overthrow of capitalism.”

          Dragon Slayer, you said: “I’m not opposed to creating alliances with other people beset by oppression.”

          It is funny that over the past several years at MIA when anyone was talking about key human rights struggles like “Black Lives Matter” and women’s right to control their bodies and reproductive rights etc.etc, you always seemed to belittle and minimize these struggles AND those that would advocate for them.

          Exactly what human rights struggles are you now supporting?


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          • I was responding to Frank, not to you Richard. But it’s good to know that you don’t want to overthrow capitalism. That’s a step in the right direction.

            Like Szasz, I am an advocate for freedom and responsibility as opposed to slavery. I support the dignity of each individual and the unalienable rights that are so eloquently enumerated and protected in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The modern Rawlsian conception of “rights” runs counter to the Founders original articulation of the term and its meaning.

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          • Dragon Slayer

            Just to clarify here, I DO most definitely want to see an end to capitalism; the sooner the better. I am just not saying that needs to be the basis of unity for an anti-psychiatry organization.

            An anti-psychiatry organization can be, and should be, “Left leaning” (that is, clearly identify the very real connection between psychiatry and the profit based capitalism in today’s world).

            And as to your second paragraph above where you discuss “freedom” totally in the abstract – you still haven’t answered what so-called human rights struggles you actually support AND those you oppose.

            And don’t forget, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution made slavery legal and called Black people 3/5ths of a human.


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          • I’m not excusing capitalism, nor bypassing the establishment and development of socialism as a goal to be achieved.

            Szasz opposed collectivism, including communal living, to individualism. Individualism, and the market, don’t really go together. It takes a certain skill-set, and a social skill-set at that, to master the game of Monopoly. Monopolies are part of our present problem when anti-trust laws are no longer being enforced. Collective is not an antonym of freedom and/or responsibility, even if Szasz chose to treat it as such.

            Human rights are the other side of human wrongs. Inalienable, applied to rights, is overly optimistic. America’s “founding fathers” were in the main eighteenth century men, and children of the enlightenment. I’ve never read John Rawls, and I will probably never get around to doing so. All the same, his views look interesting, and maybe there is something to them.

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        • I’m not against forming a left anti-psychiatry organization at all, Richard. I can agree with you on that. I just don’t think any anti-psychiatry organization need be leftist to have an impact. I’m saying I could see myself becoming involved in such a matter, but you have other people coming from different places who would, of course, see things differently. Any organization? I don’t know? If there were a left-wing antipsychiatry organization or grouping, yeah, sure, I’d want to participate. As for connecting ‘problems in living’ to capitalism…They are connected anyway, aren’t they? I’m saying though, that if you want a coalition, a mix of groups and organizations, you don’t want to exclude those people who sit on the opposite side of the issues seeing that, in this matter in some instances, the matter of toppling psychiatric tyranny, we are in agreement anyway. A left organization or group, sure, why not? All the same, I wouldn’t want to cripple our own efforts to overthrow that system by refusing to develop alliances with people with whom we might differ on other issues politically.

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          • Frank

            Yes, it would be inevitable AND a GOOD thing if people coming from the Right are somehow more organized in opposition to psychiatry and the Medical Mode.

            I am just strongly advocating for a more ADVANCED type organization that clearly makes the links between psychiatry and the profit based class system of capitalism.

            It is my belief (and I believe history bears this out) that such a Left leaning anti-psychiatry organization could potentially have a MUCH MORE powerful impact on advancing our cause over the long haul.


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          • Not arguing with you there. Psychiatry is the handmaiden of neoliberalism. Problems aren’t caused by capitalism and cronyism, they’re caused by bad brains or bad characters. The blame flows to the least powerful. If this central part of the equation is ignored, as Frank often points out, we will most likely exchange psychiatry for another form of oppression.

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          • Frank

            I am glad we agree on that. We ALL have a lot of work to do. And I do think getting clarity on some of these questions is very important for moving forward.

            I hope Bonnie doesn’t think we are hijacking her blog in a bad direction. I would hope that Bonnie sees some value in these types of strategic discussions and would also put forth some of her views as well.


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          • Regardless of whether individuals, mh workers and/or “allies” decide to form some sort of “leftist” organization, at this point in history it would likely either remain a relatively small and easily manipulable clique, or ultimately slide into “pragmatic” reformism. In any case the anti-psychiatry movement must be led by conscious survivors, who must define their own interests.

            This is not a matter for debate among non-survivors, but a clarification.

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          • Oldhead

            After all this extensive dialogue regarding some of your tendencies to promote *Identity Politics* and attempt to dilute and anti-psychiatry analysis by attempting to reconcile “Left” and “Right” Wing political positions, you CONTINUE to avoid responding to the essence of my position on these questions. I have never ONCE seen you offer anything close to a self-criticism.

            Here I will paste and copy a comment I made in a previous blog which you also NEVER responded to, and is very pertinent to this discussion about creating an anti-psychiatry organization.


            Why would such an organization have to be composed ONLY of survivors?

            Why in this stage of political movements in this country can’t we move beyond a form of “Identity Politics” which implies that only survivors can fully understand psychiatric oppression and be able to strongly unite together with a clear anti-psychiatry basis of unity.

            Such a “united” organization of ALL people opposed to psychiatry, psychiatric oppression, and the Medical Model, would clearly be led by survivors in both numbers and promotion of leadership. This would especially be true if this was made an important organizing principle right from the start of such an organization.

            Yes, we must be aware of the past contradictions with “professionals” (related to power differential and credentials etc.) that occurred in past organizing efforts. And yes, we should address these potential problems right from the beginning.

            BUT why make such a principle out of these differences (by organizing around “identity”) that it prevents us from uniting on higher levels of unity and strength through both numbers and connections to the “mental health” system?

            Where is the evidence today that separating people off as “survivor,” “professional,” and others , including leaving out FAMILY MEMBERS harmed by the Medical Model, is somehow necessary for political organizing in this historical period?

            Obviously, from my questions you can assume that I believe this would represent a step backwards today to approach anti-psychiatry organizing from this type of “separation” principle.


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          • “Reformism” is “pragmatic”!? OH, I’m not knocking pragmatism, and I’m not attributing it to “reformers”.

            “A relatively small and easily manipulable clique”?

            Cynical, aren’t you?

            Manipulable, I don’t think is the appropriate adjective, unless, of course, you recommend psychiatry, otherwise, it is only a matter of simple realism. You start somewhere, and you don’t start ‘large’.

            I suppose one could add that there’s always Scientology.

            It looks like we’ve got a little gulf between the psychiatric survivor antipsychiatry movement and the antipsychiatry movement, but I’m not going to call it unbridgeable. The co-opted psychiatric survivor movement (mental patients’ liberation movement), morphed into the C/S/X (consumer/survivor/ex-patient) movement (mental patients’ movement), is not what it used to be. Ditto the antipsychiatry movement after much die off in the 80s and 90s. Most of the people in the sell out “peer” “alternatives” etc., movement are not antipsychiatry at all. They are exploitative “mental health” treatment hucksters. This is our reality, and the place I think we need to be starting from.

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          • Richard you are completely off base lecturing anti-psychiatry survivors about how to organize. It’s not subject to debate among non-survivors. If you want to start an anti-psych organization open to all, go for it, if it’s truly anti-psych I would support it. This does not negate what we need to do on our own.

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          • Oldhead

            I’ve never lectured anyone. I have only engaged in important political and strategic discussions about how to advance an important human rights struggle. I have been upfront and honest with my views and tried to show in depth how I’ve come to those views.

            These type of discussions have taken place for several years here at MIA and you have been an active participant who NEVER hesitated in dissecting and criticizing other people’s positions when you thought they were wrong or misleading.

            Now suddenly these topics are off limits and I, supposedly, “have no right to speak’ when your positions on some of these issues are somehow questioned or challenged.

            So much for the process of dialogue and debate and “criticism/self criticism.” This defensiveness and double standard will not advance any strategic discussions for building an anti-psychiatry movement.


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          • “Most of the people in the sell out “peer” “alternatives” etc., movement are not antipsychiatry at all. They are exploitative “mental health” treatment hucksters. This is our reality, and the place I think we need to be starting from.”

            I agree, good place to start, in this one direction at least.

            While I am not a “peer” and haven’t been for a good long while, and I also agree that these are specious programs at best and really amount to only more of the same systemic issues, and while I no longer call my work “alternative” nor have I ever been actively part of any “movement” of the kind, my personal healing, and what allowed me to move past all the drugs, shrinks, social services, and injustices thereof, was, precisely, thanks to all I learned and applied in the particular healing work I did, which had nothing to do with “mental health” anything. It was outside of this physically and philosophically.

            In the process, I trained extensively to do healing work with others, it was one of my plans for doing work in the world for income, to be providing this kind of service in the world.

            This is a common path to healing, and many people get trained, certified, and licensed in a variety of healing arts that can help all kinds of people in all sorts of ways. When they want it, and many do and benefit greatly from it, have for centuries, it is available to them.

            Some of us even have integrity, and aside from doing individual healing work with others in trade for something like money, based on what is fair, reasonable, and doable to all concerned (I do trades of all kinds of goods and services, as well), we focus on social healing, as well, doing what we can to be an example of fair trade and no one gets rooked. What a concept!

            So while anyone can be a fraud in any category, at least those who practice true and authentic healing arts (I exclude most “mental health” system and industry related practices) can build a practice outside the norm and the systems which hold that grid in place. So why assume automatically–or put out that negative generalization–that it is a hukster selling some kind of snake oil?

            There is such a thing as “authentic healing,” and there are practitioners who responsibly practice these arts. To judge before experiencing is coming from a place of ignorance, and that is neutral, by definition.This would be one instance where I’d say let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

            People do need reliable healing in the world, and we all discover what works or doesn’t work for us as we go. We certainly look to not get cheated or harmed in the process! That’s what we’re trying to get away from.

            And aside from all that, I hate the institution of psychiatry nor do I support the mh field in any respect. Nor do I duplicate these, at least not that I’m aware. The healing work I do is about overall health & well-being, including simply grounding in one’s own life in a more comfortable way. But none of this is broken down into categories of mental and physical (and spiritual, for that matter). To my mind, it’s all connected. It’s just life going in and out of balance. We could all use support and adjustment from time to time. I have a healer I go to about yearly, like a check up, an energy read. No MD needed.

            I also do not strive to make a client dependent on me. I try to help a client make a core shift (which THEY identify they need and desire to make) in 3 sessions or fewer, and often I just go ahead and offer a brief class where I teach self-healing perspective and tools, then people can go off on their own and use them.

            My practice is to empower and integrate, not create dependence and lifetime “customers” from chronic anything. Big difference from psychiatry et al…

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        • The co-opted psychiatric survivor movement (mental patients’ liberation movement), morphed into the C/S/X (consumer/survivor/ex-patient) movement (mental patients’ movement)

          I wouldn’t say it “morphed” but was totally replaced, with a few opportunistic figureheads staying on to take some “leadership” positions; but even they didn’t have control. It was totally a pawn of NIMH and the APA. It was not a “movement” but a reaction to the movement.

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          • In part, perhaps, but there was this matter of exhaustion, too. I think there were people who actually thought that now that they’re taking government money, bribes, the struggle was over, the war had been won.

            In 1985, you still had a Conference on Human Rights and Against Psychiatric Oppression. There was every expectation that another conference was going to take place in 1986. It didn’t happen. Then there was only “Alternatives”.

            At this point it is similar to a math equation. Now that you’ve got the corrupt, collusive, and compromised “Alternatives” movement, protecting human rights and ending psychiatric oppression are no longer the priorities they once were. It’s, like you say, a different movement.

            Now “Alternatives”, the conference, has been “unfunded”. Why? Too many antipsychiatry types is one excuse given. The other excuse is that money needs to be allocated to the theoretically under served “seriously mentally ill” the government is killing off with such rapidity and regularity. The “alternatives” conference was seen as a sanctuary for people with “minor mental illnesses” and thus a contributing factor in medicalization.

            Yeah, I know, without the discovery of any underlying physical “disease”, it’s ALL medicalization.

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          • Damn, this is exciting news — you say “Alternatives” has bitten the dust, as the movement slowly rises from the ashes?

            This would be a good theme for an MIA article. I can’t help but believe that the consciousness-raising going on non-stop at MIA in spite of itself must have played a role in this. Everyone give the person to your left a pat on the back!

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          • Where have you been? SAMHSA was funding Alternatives until the Murphy bill became law and took care of that. Now its funding is coming from the NEC. I didn’t say Alternatives had bitten the dust, it hasn’t done so. Alternatives is still around, it just isn’t funded any longer by the federal government. How long can this continue? No idea. Not my problem.

            I’m not as optimistic as you are regarding the movement we used to have. I don’t think it was killed by any conscious decision to do so. Pulling off those International Conferences on Human Rights and Against Psychiatric Oppression was a lot of work that fell on the shoulders of a very few people. Also, they weren’t paying for themselves, they were finding themselves in the black, somebodies pocketbooks must have been hurting. Some raging radicals way back when aging into toothless moderates might have had something to do with it, too. When the NIMH started funding Alternatives, somebody must have been thinking, I don’t have to knock my brains out to make this other conference happen any more, this represents my retirement pension.

            Okay, here we are, and the only way to patch things up, more or less, is to fashion a movement against the movement that exists, that movement which has replaced the movement we used to know. As I see it, we’re at the point where the movement was before 1969/1970 when the Insane Liberation Front got off the ground.

            Of course, I think the “mental health” movement is a problem, and nothing but a problem, and there are all these people who think the “mental health” movement is everything. I see it as the enemy. No way to change that, and if they see it as their friend, we can’t be on the same page.

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  8. Re the disagreement between Oldhead and Richard, I don’t know if this is helpful, but let me just say that in Canada we tend to draw a distinction between the antipsychiatry movement and the psychiatric survivor movement (which we see as overlapping but not identifical) and as a result seldom get into these types of arguments.

    As for my own politics, is is not identical to anyone else’s here, though it bears some resemblance to both Richard and Oldhead. I am a leftwing anarchist who sees the importance of a class analysis. At the same time, I have always worked with people across the political spectrum. Also for me, it depends on how sophisticated the right wing analysis is. For example, though my valued friend and ally Dr. Peter Breggin is right wing and I am left wing, we work well and often together for we value what each other brings to the table and because Peter’s right wing politics includes and does not stop him from taking in the reality of oppression. Politics is very complicated when you touch into the antipsychiatry area or even the critical psychiatry area–and this, I have long appreciated.

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  9. I guess this could be interpreted as a “dispute” to some extent, but it takes two to tango and I’ve been trying to decline. What’s at issue in Richard’s mind is whether or not survivors have any business organizing independently of others, be they professionals or other self-proclaimed “allies,” who “identify” as “anti-psychiatry.” I have for the most part been refusing to engage him on this, as I don’t consider this issue subject to debate with/among non-survivors.

    I do have a similar position to you regarding any attempt, or even serious thought, of excluding people based on their non-psychiatry politics, ridiculous as they may be, unless they are consciously fascists, white supremacists, or something of that ilk. There are “civil libertarian” levels of the struggle which do not need to conflict with the approaches of those with a more anti-capitalist analysis. Additionally there are survivors who assume the rhetoric of reactionaries, but who in their personal lives have no power and are victims of capitalism just like most people, whether or not they admit it.

    Richard’s highly technical-sounding revolutionary socialist rhetoric is hard to relate to (or understand) for many people, and is hard to respond to, as he consistently refuses to define the terms he uses (in particular “identity politics,” which has more than one implication). It is also hard to fathom his insisting on such a “hard line” considering the bankruptcy of what passes for a “left” in the U.S. I asked Richard to find the anti-psychiatry planks for whatever organization(s) he considers the most “revolutionary,” so far with no response. So I don’t even know where his “line” comes from other than his own formulations.

    P.S. Visualize a hybrid movement merging common elements of the two you mention,
    the “anti-psychiatry/abolitionist psychiatric survivors’ movement.” This would not necessarily negate the others (though I still for the life of me can’t imagine what positive goal a non-anti-psychiatry survivors’ movement would be “moving” towards).

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    • We’ve basically got a non-anti-psychiatry survivors’ movement as is, in the states, the question is how to make an anti-psychiatry movement out of parts of it. I think that’s a big problem. Right now, psychiatric survivor movement, “peer” movement, “consumer” movement, recovery movement, “disability” movement, etc., are thought of as the same thing. Do we need a psychiatric survivors’ movement against the psychiatric survivors’ movement? I think, indeed, yes, in a sense, we do.

      Libertarian and capitalism don’t of necessity go together. Some people value liberty AND social justice. I don’t, in other words, equate libertarian with leissez faire “free” market capitalism, nor do I equate it with multi-national corporate imperialism.

      Those of us who are left-wing could see a more organized anti-psychiatry movement as a way of influencing the left as well. When you have leftist anti-psychiatry organizations, well, the left is more likely to consider you part of its own, and out of that comes cross-pollination.

      A movement should involve many organizations–left, right, and center–but you know where you stand politically, and so do I. If we want to have an influence on the left, one way of doing so is by being friendly with it, and not trying to alienate that left-wing from us any more than it already is, as we could, in that matter, actually succeed.

      I’m not such an apologist for our current head of state as you, OH, seem to be. If you wanted, you know, you could always go alt right, but that’s not a direction that I would recommend. Of course, you are your own person, and you are going to go in whatever direction you see fit.

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  10. A few comments here that may or may not be helpful to others in this conversation. For the most part (and there surely were moments that were different), I saw the US psychiatric survivor moment in the 1980s and 1990’s as not exactly antipsychiatry–though there is no question that now and then antipsychiatry entered into its principles. By contrast, I saw a very real antipsychiatry movement during this same period in Canada , and this was not a movement based on being a psychiatric survivor, though psychiatric survivors were always central to it. Re the left, what I see in North America right now is a left wing that is overwhelmingly, though thankfully not exclusively, pro-psychiatry (and yes I think even more so than the right is) By contrast, there are countries like Germany, for example, where the left is strongly antipsychiatry. (And we see signs of this in Chile too). My own sense is that we have to stop looking at what happens or has happened in the US as normative and instead come to understandings and to possible models and ways forward by thinking globally.

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    • I saw the US psychiatric survivor moment in the 1980s and 1990’s as not exactly antipsychiatry

      Well, this would have to be the understatement of the year.

      There WAS no “survivors” movement in the U.S. after 1985. Anything after that was pure cooptation — a counter movement, actually. It should be remembered that the final movement manifesto, drafted during the 1982 North American Conference On Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression, ended with the declaration that “the psychiatric system cannot be reformed, but must be abolished.”

      Movements have to be going somewhere to be movements, and usually not backwards.

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      • Exhaustion, OldHead, I think the steam just ran out. Otherwise there would have been an International Conference on Human Rights and Against Psychiatric Oppression in 1986. I think there was a little bit of a betrayal on the leadership end, too, but you’re talking about the people who had been doing all the work, and so too much can really get to be too much.

        Also, the government knew what it was doing in buying off the movement. Trade conferences we paid for with those financed by the federal government, and what have you got? No, not traders. Traitors is more the word I had in mind.

        As I’ve said, I think we need to oppose the “mental health” movement. It is not a “mental health” movement at all, it is a “mental health” treatment promotion movement. Alternative medicine is still medicine, or rather, quackery. Whatever the movement became has made a heavy investment in medicalization in recent years. We need to realize that we’re back at square one, and that we should start over again clean, as I was saying, like in 1969/1970. We need a movement against what the movement has become.

        More to the point, there is that distinction to be made between the psychiatric survivor movement and the antipsychiatry movement. Overlap occurs, sure, and that is good, but we can only expect so much from those who are weak (or perhaps the more precise term is dishonest), and determined to err.

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        • If the movement is the opposite of itself it’s not a movement. So I suggest we keep focused on fighting psychiatry.

          Anyway, speaking of exhaustion, too tired for the fine points. But the movement’s demise was far more than exhaustion, it was carefully planned and executed. People saw what YKW was up to, they just didn’t take it seriously enough to understand the degree of collusion going on. Even Howie the Harp had the wool pulled over his eyes, apparently.

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          • If the movement is the opposite of itself, we’ve got a contradiction, maybe hypocrisy, certainly dishonesty. I think we’ve got more than one movement here anyway, and I’m picking sides. I don’t know who YKW is unless you’re blaming everything on Joseph Rogers, and that has got to be a joke. I’m focused on fighting medicalization, medicalizatin borne of the “mental health” movement (and industry). I don’t see psychiatry as a power without the “mental health” movement. As I’ve said, there’s a whole psy-complex out there, and to blame EVERYTHING on psychiatry is to wear blinders, but, perhaps, in this instance, stylish blinders of your own design.

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  11. Bonnie, Steve, Oldhead, Frank, and others,

    I don’t believe these comments have gotten to the heart of some of the political differences here. Let me attempt to clarify the differences as I see them.

    I have NEVER said that we shouldn’t ever work with people on the Right side of the political spectrum. This is not up for debate here. Steve, and others, did you read this comment I recently made? https://www.madinamerica.com/2018/09/indigenous-scholarship-antipsychiatry-battle/#comment-140852

    What I have been strongly advocating for is that committed LEFT oriented anti-psychiatry activists (those individuals who are clearly and strongly anti-capitalist) grasp the importance of forming an ADVANCED LEFT LEANING anti-psychiatry organization.

    This political imperative flows out of understanding the crucial role that other such ADVANCED human rights type political organizations have played throughout the last 100 years of our history. And especially understanding the principle of how the ADVANCED political position tends to act as a catalyst pushing to the LEFT those people NOT YET able to fully understand the oppressive role of psychiatry and/or its connections to the capitalist system

    Other people with less developed,or ADVANCED (not yet anti-capitalist) political perspectives, will certainly start ALL kinds of other organizations with various political perspectives, and some will play a positive role in the long term development of the struggle. Yes, some of them should be both supported and worked with as the struggle develops. This may, at times, mean we have political alliances with activists who are currently RIGHT leaning. BUT, the existence of ADVANCED organizations are absolutely critical in pushing forward the entire political process.

    WHO is going to take the lead in launching such ADVANCED organizations, if it is NOT people such as ourselves who clearly understand that capitalism (as a political and economic system) is THE major impediment to the advance of human progress on the planet?

    Even it it were somehow possible to rid society of psychiatry under capitalism (which you know I strongly believe it is NOW impossible for that to happen) the world would still be a horribly oppressive place for hundreds of millions of people. It would be incredibly narrow minded AND selfish of those people (such as ourselves) who actually grasp the oppressive role of capitalism in the world today, to NOT view the anti-psychiatry human rights struggle as having TWO important goals.

    1) to advance the day to day struggle against psychiatry by exposing its thoroughly oppressive role in society and organizing material resistance with various key forms of mass struggle.

    2) AND most importantly, draw all the very real connections between the institutional role of psychiatry in society to the profit based capitalist system. By doing this, we become a part of all the OTHER human rights struggles that are educating the masses of people, through all their struggles, that AS A SOCIETY, we need to move BEYOND capitalism BEFORE it destroys the planet through environmental destruction and/or imperialist war.

    AND NO, various CONSOLIDATED Right Wing forces should NOT be worked with in such an ADVANCED organization, And, nor would they especially want to join anyway, if we CLEARLY draw the the very REAL connections between psychiatry and the profit based capitalist system. Again, there may be some opportunities to create brief political alliances with other less radical forces as things develop.

    Oldhead, it is senseless for you to keep asking me for what Left organization takes a great position on psychiatry. We ALL know that they have lousy positions , and/or have never really developed one. The KEY questions here is how do WE advance everyone’s understanding (including the legitimate LEFT and/or Marxist type organizations) of the oppressive role of psychiatry AND the need to abolish it?

    I believe the answer to this important question is to strongly consider the importance of forming an ADVANCED LEFT LEANING anti-psychiatry organization for the TWO purposes I advocated for above.

    And Oldhead, I have stated several time that I will be writing something more involved about the overall negative role of *Identity Politics* in today’s political movements. But I have CLEARLY said enough (in multiple comments) about *Identity Politics* for you to understand why it represents a step backwards when proposing a path forward in forming an ADVANCED anti-psychiatry human rights organization.

    And Oldhead, you have clearly waffled on this question. You had no problem , not too long ago, in building such an organization with non-survivor anti-psychiatry activists. Now suddenly you are advocating for a survivor ONLY organization, with NO political summation that clearly JUSTIFIES why this should be the current political imperative.

    I will clearly say, that it is a major step BACKWARD in this political era, for a veteran anti-capitalist/ Marxist oriented activist to be advocating for an “Identity” based radical political organization. This is especially true when you have presented NO political analysis as to why this is even necessary and/or how it will advance the struggle. Here is an example where *Identity Politics,* and similar type positions, are playing a negative role.

    And I agree with Bonnie, that in ALL these questions we should be thinking globally when developing our analysis and political strategies.


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    • I think Bonnie has got something there about maintaining this distinction between the antipsychiatry movement and the psychiatric survivor movement. There is cross-over, but these movements are never going to be identical. When it comes to leadership roles, I’m wouldn’t make any assumption not borne of practice.

      Basically, Richard, I don’t think the fall of capitalism means the fall of psychiatry, nor vice versa. That ‘problems in living’ are connected with the economic system goes without saying. I think though we can agree in desiring and working for the fall of both psychiatry and capitalism. Your position itself is a little too authoritarian for my tastes. Sure, Marx and Engels stacked the deck in favor of their own philosophical system, however, # 639 has got a lot to say, too, if only we’d listen. I think leftist radicals need to work together, and that’s the only thing that gets to the heart of the matter here as far as I’m concerned.

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      • Frank

        I am NOT saying that the fall of capitalism automatically leads to the death of psychiatry. Activists such as ourselves would have much work to do to make sure that definitely happens.

        I AM saying that I don’t believe we can fully end psychiatry and the whole oppressive Medical Model without FIRST clearing away the profit based capitalist system. I don’t think we have to agree completely on this latter point to move forward in some kind of political unity.

        I am not sure what you are referring to when you use the “authoritarian” when describing my political position? Is that a general comment about some problems you have with Marxism? Leninism? Moaism? type positions, or something else? And , of course, we do not need to have full unity on exactly what type of society we need to build in the future in order to move forward on the more immediate issues.

        And I was not clear on the reference to #639?


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        • I don’t think medical model psychiatry is entirely an invention of capitalism, and I don’t think the end of capitalism would mean the end of psychiatry, and vice versa. I do however agree that we can and should “move forward in some kind of political unity”.

          I think your political approach, Richard, is, in some regards, doctrinaire and dogmatic. I also feel that the antipsychiatry OldHead envisions would itself be doctrinaire and dogmatic. I myself am out of the box, and I’ve scrapped the book. I would like to see us working together for those ends in which we are in favor.

          The reference to # 369 is merely a reference to anyone who is not an authority figure or a big name bozo in the system, say, someone who has a physical deformity, or someone who is of a minority race, or perhaps someone who doesn’t conduct him or herself in what is thought to be a proper manner. # 369 is just a number from among the many in the crowd. You could have a Q and A sometime, but intentionally or not, cut it off before # 369 is even heard. Get me right, # 369 is not Everyman, # 369 is # 369. # 369 could even be a mailbox number. Sometimes that happens.

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        • It’s funny, because I think you’re both much closer together than you think you are. Frank (if I’m getting this right) believes that removing psychiatry won’t deal with the issue of coercion, because something else will take its place. Richard (again, if I’m understanding correctly) also believes that trying to remove psychiatry in and of itself won’t handle the situation, because there is a bigger power structure behind it that would continue the oppression. So it seems that both of you agree that psychiatry is problematic, but that removing it without dealing with the underlying patterns of coercion and oppression would not accomplish the end of keeping the “mentally ill” from being mistreated, labeled, and jailed.

          Something to build on, I think.

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          • Abolishing slavery was a much simpler matter than abolishing psychiatry ever will be. Psychiatry is not only what’s in the hospital system, or the public “mental health” system, it’s also psychoanalysis and private practice. All psychiatry is not coercive. I don’t say abolish psychiatry because I think you’ve got the revenge motive at play there, and it can become a matter of overkill. Infringe on the freedoms that we all share at the world’s peril. I do say abolish coercive non-consensual psychiatry, abolish forced treatment. I don’t say treatment must be forced on psychiatrists.

            Richard connects psychiatric treatment with the capitalistic system, and says you have to get rid of capitalism to get rid of psychiatry. I see a connection in that capitalism can make survival difficult, and thereby contributes to the “mental health” morass we currently have to contend with. I don’t think ending psychiatry would bring down capitalism, nor do I think we must wait for a socialist revolution to abolish coercive psychiatry because that is unlikely to happen. Connecting both these matters is a way to complicate bringing about either.

            I think equality and social justice are important issues that we will all eventually have to deal with. I’m a left-winger. I think it is up to us to influence the left on the matter of doing something about psychiatric oppression, and not the other way around. I do see the struggle of people impacted by the “mental health” system as being connected with the struggle of oppressed people everywhere against their oppressors, and for a meaningful place in the world.

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          • Perhaps I need to clarify. If the slogan went abolish institutional psychiatry! I’d be totally on board. I have no use for medical facilities designed to serve people without medical conditions. If that’s what is meant by abolish psychiatry then I’m with you, however go beyond that, and I think it is matter of coming up with another stupid law with which to infringe on peoples’ basic freedoms, and I have a real problem with that. I can’t see maintaining psychiatric prisons pretending to be hospitals. If a person wants counseling (or fellowship), that’s another matter. Etymologically shrinks are “soul doctors”, and in my book, that’s not science, that’s religion, and you know the kind of trouble governments get into when they try to prohibit religious practices.

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    • To ALL,

      I find it interesting and sad that very few people on the MIA website EVER want to discuss *Identity Politics,* especially to offer any CRITICISM of this largely negative trend in current political movements. I believe this is, by itself, indicative of the very real kind of fear that this trend has created, and how it stifles very important and necessary political discussion.


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      • I suppose MIA is a case-in-point. Should we be discussing “survivor” isssues, or focussing on the wider struggle?
        I don’t believe the two are mutually exclusive, and here, I prefer to mainly focus on the former.

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      • What do you mean by “identity politics,” Richard? I see you throw the term around a lot, like I see others throw around the term “neoliberal” but these just seem like buzzwords without context. A serious discussion begins with defining terms. Please define what you mean by Identity Politics. Thank you.

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        • LavenderSage, Steve and others,

          I am very surprised that so few people have heard about this before, or understand how it manifests itself today. An aspect of *Identity Politics* did become an issue, especially between the the two wings in the Democratic Party supporting Hilary C. and Bernie S., though it has bigger and broader applications.

          If you click on my name in these comments you will see in numerous PAST comments where I discuss various aspects of *Identity Politics,* and within those comments is a partial definition that applies to some of these discussions.

          If you google *Identity Politics,* and especially a “critical analysis of Identity Politics,” you will see many historical analyses of how *Identity Politics* has developed over the years and what role it plays today.

          Because of the seriousness of this discussion (and how controversial it can become) I will defer my longer response to a future time. This discussion deserves a careful and well thought out presentation here at MIA, and unfortunately I do not currently have the time to give it the level of seriousness it deserves.

          I regret having to respond this way to your questions at this time, but I do promise to address this in the very near future, and I hope you will join in and participate in the discussion at that time

          Please, in the meantime do some of your own research on this topic, so that when I do write something here at MIA you can participate from the highest level of understanding.

          Respectfully, Richard

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          • Richard,
            Maybe it is because we know it all too well.
            Being pretty political, in other settings I’ve been involved in long, long, long debates. They never seem to go anywhere.

            I feel slightly annoyed when the term is used dismissively. I feel it is erasing and silencing. But having spent more of my llfe than I’d prefer trying to explain and getting nowhere, I’m leery of doing more of the same at MIA, especially since I’m here due to my membership of such an identity group, so such an explanation seems like it should be redundant here of all places.

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          • Inviting me to go off and do my own research, inviting me to wade through ALL the posts where you’ve harped on ad nauseum about Identity Politics to try and cull out your meaning? Um, no. Why can’t you just plainly state what you mean?

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          • Yeah Richard. You use the term to put down people’s ideas but refuse to define it. What’s important to any alleged discussion is what the term means to you.

            What you seem to be advocating is that before we take meaningful action against psychiatry a) survivors learn advanced Marxist theeory; 2) we develop an advanced Marxist analysis of psychiatry and 3) we pitch it to a “left” which is clueless and in denial about psychiatry and wait for them to catch on.

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      • “I find it interesting and sad that very few people on the MIA website EVER want to discuss *Identity Politics*”

        Why is this “interesting and sad?” What conclusion are you drawing from this? Why is this such a vital topic and what is it you are objecting to?

        We’re talking about groups of people who have been politically, economically, socially, and professionally marginalized. Empowering ourselves as individuals is exactly what we’re after, why not? That would be the antidote for oppression.

        Personally, I find it frustrating that the mechanics of social healing are not discussed more on MIA. Although I’m not sad about it, nor perplexed at this point. I think it’s because people have forgotten how to achieve harmony in community, and there is relatively no power in disharmony, other than the power of chaos to keep things diluted and vague, which is exactly the strategy used to maintain the status quo. It also tends to make people feel kinda crazy to be in chronic disharmony. There is no stability nor grounding in this. We learn as we grow…

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    • So when you refer to “identity politics,” are you simply referring to a group identifying itself as a “survivor based” group leading such an effort? Or are you objecting to the creation of such identity-based groups, or using the ‘survivor’ identity as a means of organizing people who have been harmed by the system? Or the exclusion of “non-survivors” from such groups?

      I remain genuinely somewhat confused as to what you’re objecting to, and would appreciate some clarification of what you mean in this case by “identity politics” diverting us from our goals.

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      • This is what he means:


        “Discussions about identity politics are the new arguments about political correctness, which, as Moira Weigel detailed at length in this paper this week, have long been a means for the male, white and right mainstream to shut down any suggestion that others are worthy of a voice.”


        “‘Identity politics’ is a far right dog whistle. The only identity politics being practiced is a refusal to accept the privileges of being a white man — the only division being fomented here is between a larger vision of a united humanity and the bigotry of the status quo.”


        “Once upon a time, “identity politics” was a phrase heard occasionally in the halls of academia (at least, for those of us who were social science majors), typically in discussion of nationalist movements or other phenomena outside of day-to-day US political debate. Now, thanks largely to right-wing media, it has become a noxious catchphrase that lumps together all social justice movements — the fight for civil rights, equality for women, same-sex marriage, immigrant rights, to name just a few — into a belittling abstraction that makes these great historical movements sound frivolous.”

        It is disturbing that someone who seems to be the sole moderator of a forum for extremely marginalized people is unaware of white supremacist dogwhistle terms. This term has been used widely in the news for several years now and has been thoroughly explained and debunked as white supremacist lies and hate.

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    • And Oldhead, you have clearly waffled on this question. You had no problem , not too long ago, in building such an organization with non-survivor anti-psychiatry activists. Now suddenly you are advocating for a survivor ONLY organization, with NO political summation that clearly JUSTIFIES why this should be the current political imperative.

      I am not “advocating” for anything, simply stating my viewpoint, and I am not “waffling” as I have no obligation to repeatedly “justify” myself; it either resonates or it doesn’t, at any rate it’s primarily addressed to, yes, survivors.

      As for the question about my change in approach, the answer is simply that I try to learn from my experiences, and my mistakes. Survivors organizing among themselves in a self-directed way seems to threaten you, which is something you need to explore. No one’s trying to stop you from attempting to organize non-survivors, including professionals, or a group which includes both survivors and others; there’s no need for this to be a contradiction. But anti-psych survivors also need a voice of their own, not influenced by concerns about finding “common ground,” etc. etc. with professionals and others who will never share their experience.

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      • I don’t think anyone wants to exclude psychiatric survivors from any antipsychiatry organizing efforts, nor do I think it would be possible to organize without confronting issues concerning power disparities, and, ultimately, social justice issues. We need both psychiatric survivors and professionals on board if we’re ever going to get anywhere as a movement. I think Richard understands this, OldHead, but returning the psychiatric survivor movement to the positions it took in the days before the government funding Alternatives debacle, I don’t think that is going to happen. The movement we once had is kaput, dead. It has been co-opted, totally hijacked, and so that leaves forging an entirely new one among the holdouts from the days before that usurpation took place with their allies and potential allies as our only viable option.

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    • Why on do you always capitalize “identity politics” and bookend it with asterisks?

      What is that meant to impart? Why not just use the phrase without unnecessary and grammatically incorrect punctuation and capitalization?

      As a copyeditor, I find it this highly confusing. I would appreciate you explaining what the difference is between “identity politics” and “*Identity Politics*” in your mind. Perhaps that will finally help those of us who wish to know understand your personal, internal definition of the term.

      You keep telling us we’re wrong about our definitions. Please explain yours and what your unusual grammatical choices with the phrase mean to you.

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  12. You’ll notice, Richard, I never mention “right” or “left” in my comment.

    I simply point out that “identity politics” is a white supremacist dog whistle term, with sources backing up my explanation.

    White people of any and all political views can be white supremacist. “Right” and “left” are irrelevant when it comes to white nationalist bigotry.

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  13. Well said, Alex. LavenderSage, I share you frustration. I tried to look up what Richard claims is an alternate definition of “identity politics” to the one I know. Google hasn’t been helpful.

    When one cannot explain what one means, it’s often a sign of fuzzy comprehension of a topic in the first place. At least in my experience.

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  14. Personally, I see identity politics as critical (hence the importance of women only groups, of Black groups, of psychiatric survivor groups and other such identity based liberation groups). What the philosopher Jean-Paul Satre called “Us-it” formations or Liberation struggles are legitimate and by nature are identity based. I also think coalition politics are essential, where different types of groups work together. That said, I likewise value and am a part of groups that are simply not identity-based, that are based simply on common analysis, common principles, common committments. All of these have value. And while I may be wrong here, I don’t think that Richard would disagree with this. What he disagrees with, if I am reading him right, is the priority given to identity politics. That is, the sense that in the final analysis being from the same oppressed identity should be the sine qua non of political movements. As for myself, I see psychiatric survivor groups as necessarily identity politics based and antipsychiatry groups as necessarily not identity politics based. Can these morph into each other? they can–but the strengths are different and so care needs to be taken here. Two different groups that formed to combated fascism when it began asserting itself in the in the late 1980s are instructive here. One , which was definitely identity based (and I belonged to it) was Jewish Feminist Antifascist League). To belong to the group, you had to be a Jewish woman. The other was AntiRacst Action or ARA (with whom I often worked but to which I did not belong) and it was not identity based. You didn’t have to have any particular identity to be a member of ARA; you just had to share the analysis and the committment. Nor were there different classes of membership. Nor was there any sense that if you did not come from a racialized identity, you were to have less of a say–for again, the group was not identity-based, though of course, everyone recognized the importance of checking in with the people’s whose oppressions were relevant. Both ARA and JFAFL (Jewish Feminist Antifascist League) had jobs to do. And both got along enormously well together and indeed often worked together. Fortunately, this was a time during history when a great many of us saw the value of different types of politics. It followed a time in the early 1980 when identity politics seemed to overshadow everything else, my own sense is to the detriment of social justice causes.

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      • Then you see no purpose in most patient advocacy groups. (Me, too. I’m certainly not advocating bondage to the “mental patient” role.) My point, among people impacted by the system, we’re the minority, but then there are others out there among the general public that we can appeal to, and that see the absurdity of the system. 75 – 80 % of the population needs no long term “mental health” “care”. It doesn’t seem to me that most of those people are pro-psychiatry, not when the mental health system threatens to upset their particular apple-carts. If they were, why, then they’d be “in treatment”, wouldn’t they?

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        • If a “survivor” spends his/her entire life identifying as such, without stepping outside the swamp of “mental health” culture or attempting to resist it — in other words if they aren’t instinctively anti-psychiatry — I question whether they have “survived” at all.

          Sometimes the strongest chains are those we impose on ourselves — such as the system-encouraged guilt trip that “you can’t get rid of psychiatry without an alternative”; when people say stuff like this it’s an indication that they haven’t truly internalized an understanding that psychiatry is a tool of repression, like the prison system, or (yes) slavery (which still exists). Do people ever say “we can’t eliminate slavery without an alternative”? So what’s the goddamn difference?

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          • I’m at a loss to know how to describe myself in MIA, where identification is sometimes necessary. I hate the term ‘survivor’ and never use it in any context IRL, but feel stuck with it here. Otherwise I’d be trying to come up with an identfying sentence instead.

            Some identities are more like scripted roles. There may be a few variations of a labelled role, but they are all narrow, and turn whole people into cardboard cut-outs of expectations.

            If I meet a female who identfies with any of the patient roles, I expect to be hugged, even if we have just met. As if it was in a job description somewhere.

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          • A lot of compliant patients (i.e. consumer/users) are survivors in name only, that is, they end up being psychiatric casualties in abeyance and/or in hiding. Chiefly they become additional victims of long term health debilitating would be medical practices. Psychiatry (drug abuse) is seldom as fast as a bullet to the brain.

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          • By the last part I mean that the ‘survivor’ identity seems to assume that anyone who has been in the bin is in a permanent state of crisis and in need of a hug.

            If I meet someone who identifies as ‘survivor’ for the first time and who sees me in that role, there is this earnestness and often hugging that I find weird. Like I was desperate or needy somehow. It hardly ever happens because its not how I identify and I don’t have many connections with that world. it doesn’t happen in any other context when meeting someone new.

            Outmate sounds good, I’m going to use it here from now on.

            Of couurse I’m a “survivor” – I’m not dead, but surely that label doesn’t apply for a lifetime. It makes no sense. It feels like a shaky attempt at seeming strong and heroic, but has the opposite effect. Why would I apply a able to myself associated with psychiatry at all?

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          • A quick internet search gives me two definitions for outmate, neither one of which I have much use for.

            First the slang, or urban dictionary, definition.

            A technical term used by homeless shelters and social services to refer to homeless in their day service programs, that avoids euphemism such as “guest” in order to sound tough. inmates, outmates, just like inpatient and outpatient.

            attention b-ms. all outmates must report to the intake officer before being admitted to the feeding facility.

            As if people were stuck in social services for a lifetime. I suppose you could put on a tombstone Wayoutmate, presuming, of course, one attained heavenly services rather than damnation services.

            Hmm. Would that make the opposite conclusion, Wayinmate? I really don’t know.

            I don’t like social services, inpatient or outpatient, preferring good old self-reliance and wily resourcefulness, or human ingenuity instead. Middle finger somebody else, thank you.

            Second definition.


            Uh, perhaps, or, as with heavenly versus damnation services, perhaps not. Especially not if you meet someone even more proficient at whatever game it is you happen to be playing, and quadrupal especially not if that game happens to be the game of living a life.

            I don’t mind psychiatric survivor. I use it as one would the word holocaust, or the word rape, coupled with the word survivor. It contrasts sharply with non-survivor, casualty, or, in plain English, cadaver. Some people don’t seem to realize that certain other people are not cadavers without a little bit of reminding.

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          • By the last part I mean that the ‘survivor’ identity seems to assume that anyone who has been in the bin is in a permanent state of crisis and in need of a hug.

            Gag me with a spoon lol! 🙂

            I totally get that — people who pay attention know that I’m not thrilled with the term, but I use it because it seems to be the most universal term currently in use. I can see where for some it might have connotations similar to “mental patient” or “mental health consumer.”

            On the other hand it has some positive connotations, such as resilience and resistance, and communicates that psychiatry is something to survive, not embrace.

            I’m glad you like outmate, I think it’s perfect to describe those in the grip of “community mental health” and the like. For the record, “inmate” is considered a correct legal term for inhabitants of closed institutions such as prisons and “mental hospitals,” which is how we once shifted from the term “mental patient” to “psychiatric inmate.” So I think it’s a logical extension to consider those consigned to institutions without walls as “outmates,” just as many consider lfe outside prison as “minimum security.” It also helps reinforce an understanding of psychiatry as an adjunct of prison.

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          • I have a big problem with the notion of the world as a minimum security prison. It just doesn’t sit well with me at all. I prefer prisons you can bust out of. Outmate as the obverse of inmate doesn’t take us far enough out of that confined and suffocating environment. I think I would prefer freedman rather than some modification, as I take outmate to be, of prisoner. I’d have much the same reaction if it were a modification of the word slave that we were using. When my shackles are gone, I like for them to be gone, thank you very much. Even a shackled mind is a little too much of a burden, that is, fettering, to suit me. You can keep to your cell if you prefer, me, I making my way unto some kind of more spontaneous situation. I’m not in favor of imprisoning myself, and when I’m at liberty, well, I’d rather remain at liberty than punish, in one fashion or another, as an innocent party, myself.

            Community “mental health” is BS, too, isn’t it? The outpatient system? Now there’s another word that is too close to psychiatric prisoner for comfort. I’d skip the patient business instead. Let somebody else pretend to be “sick” for the length of their time on this planet. For my part, I’m well (Dig the pun!) over it.

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          • I have a big problem with the notion of the world as a minimum security prison. It just doesn’t sit well with me at all. I prefer prisons you can bust out of.

            Yeah, just like the good old days. But we’re constantly busting out of one cage into a larger one.

            Actually I wasn’t referring to the whole world, but a good chunk of it. Certainly the U.S. and other colonized territories.

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  15. Bonnie, I can’t contribute much here regarding the history of political movements, etc., but I’m learning many interesting things here, so thank you. I also appreciate the global aspects of these issues.

    Although, FWIW, I wanted to point out that right now here in the USA, we have a glaring in-your-face convergence of identity politics, gender politics, sexual politics, etc., happening front and center in a legislative and media circus kind of way. To me, it’s somewhat like a Rubik’s cube of politics, in general, although disturbing, too, so it’s scary and fascinating at the same time, I think.

    We have a professor of psychology and researcher at Stanford Univ testifying before the Senate that a now Appellate Judge and nominee for the US Supreme Court sexually assaulted her many years ago, and all this stuff about sex and drinking and assault and power has come to light. The hearing spoke for itself–rage, defensiveness, total disrespect for EVERYTHING, the people and the process. I saw craziness there. Folks are coming out of the woodwork on all sides mostly accusing others of lying, all that good stuff. The President completed the triangle by publically ridiculing the accuser. These are our “leaders.”

    A lot of people are seriously triggered right now, this is opening a lot of wounds for people. I see it as healing to happen, most hopefully, but it’s a tense time in our country right now, and it seems to involve all the institutions of power in deep struggle with each other, with gender power issues at the forefront. And in this case, a psychologist is directly involved, which I find interesting, given what MIA is about.

    It’s all oppressive, in and of itself. I can’t imagine anyone not feeling that way about something like this. What I’m wondering is, can the center hold at this point?

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      • Whether it is an esteemed psychology professor and researcher or a US judge who is lying about sexual assault, it’s an oppressive situation for the country. Kind of a lose/lose situation. I imagine the truth will prevail at some point, and then we’ll have more clarity about which way the winds of justice are blowing.

        Although given the way people in these positions of power try to obstruct truth and justice in favor of their own self-interest, I believe it is the process of how the truth will come to light which will be most interesting to discover as this continues to unfold. The tension is at fever pitch, with public protests going on at this moment in Washington DC, following the release of an FBI report which has yet to be made public.

        I believe what is being most sacrificed at this moment is the well-being of the country. So indeed, things are hardly equal. “We, the people” are the ones who get sacrificed, thanks to this graceless battle for “power” among the “elites.”

        At the same time, I believe we all deserve transparency, so if this leads to change, then that’s why it is occurring, so we can all witness in unison what is underneath these masks.

        I’d like to see integrity in leadership, however. Is that even possible in today’s political world? Has it ever been?

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        • Alex, sex abuse survivors don’t lie about how we were abused and by whom.

          Ford is telling the truth.

          Kavanaugh is a serial sexual abuser who should never have been held in esteem, much less allowed into a position of such extreme power.

          There is no mystery to be solved here. And this goes far, far beyond US borders. Rape culture is globally systemic. That needs to change.

          And it never will until people take us survivors at face value.

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          • Poison Ivy wrote: “sex abuse survivors don’t lie about how we were abused and by whom.”

            Well, non-sex abuse survivors do in actual fact lie about how they were abused and by whom. Here is an example of a false accuser brought to justice:

            “Jemma Beale, 25, from west London, invented four separate incidents of sexual assault, one of which led to man being wrongly convicted”


            Unfortunately, there are, have been and will go on to be liars who make false allegations for all kinds of reasons, including baffling unreasons.

            They undermine authentic survivors but remind us never to automatically believe anyone lest we inadvertently involve ourselves in human rights abuses.

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          • Poison Ivy, I agree with you. I’m not only a sexual abuse survivor but I am also a survivor of many kinds of relentless and chronic power abuse, and it all felt like rape to me, mind, body and spirit. I’ve also stood up to “power” often (even in a legal mediation) and I continue to. I am consulting with attorneys once again, and I’m getting pretty far, we are in a good dialogue so far.

            What Dr. Ford is doing is what is necessary for change to occur, and it is not an easy task, not even remotely in the slightest! Standing up to power takes its toll, which is why I bring up the lack of integrity in leadership. I believe that’s where it begins. Abuse of all kinds have not only occurred, they’ve been ALLOWED to continue, despite all the calling out in myriad ways.

            Power abusers have gatekeepers, protectors, and enablers around them. It is a *system* of abuse. I believe this is what we’re looking to break down, to have this come to light, acknowledged (somehow), and then find a way for justice to be served. Naturally, this will not be easy, but it’s doable and necessary, to my mind.

            The mystery to me is not who is lying, but more so, how this will play out. Masks were coming off at the hearing, but still, the political elite is struggling to maintain power and control, regardless of anything. This is why I say “we, the people” are paying for it, as long as they resist the truth and keep operating from defensiveness/attacking mode.

            I’m just wondering how long the truth can be suppressed, avoided, and downright denied. This is how society becomes such a powder keg. Truth is the healer here.

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          • Wasn’t sure where I wanted to post this but I’m choosing to keep it in this thread, since I used the word “survivor” often and directly here, after reading the above comments in another thread about that particular word, fwiw–

            When I use the word “survivor” in these contexts of surviving rape, the system, psychiatry, and systemic abuse–from whatever system, family, social services, etc.–I am implying that I experienced extremely powerless-making events–emotionally and physically–which in the short and long run were traumatic, in that they caused prolonged feelings of fear and anxiety, as well as oppressive and often truly crippling and disabling feelings of powerlessness, which easily made life way more challenging than it already is just naturally. Even when I was doing things to prove otherwise to myself and others, there would always be this undercurrent of extreme self-doubt, and all the stories that came with that. That is a feeling which is hard to shake, that post-traumatic stress. It is a filter that affects everything in your reality, including self-image, self-beliefs, and self-worth. For these reasons, it can wind up being rather self-sabotaging.

            When I say I “survived” this or that, I am saying that I never gave up my power, even though I was not aware of this. I learned about this later, as I went along seeking relief and healing. I am saying that one can live through these events and find their power again. That is a process, a healing and truth journey to take. It is self-enlightening and transformative. That’s what I, personally, mean by “survivorship.”

            And I never heard the term “psychiatric survivor” until I came to MIA 6+ years ago. I adopted it because it felt true to me. That was a big step to what has since been good shifting and healing continuing to occur for me, recognizing that I had SURVIVED something, and that it is a so-called “legitimate” arm of mainstream society! That spoke volumes to me, like an awakening. It is what now fuels my reality, and my work in the world. Beyond that, I’m still me the creative being I’ve always been. This, however, has been my life path, for whatever reason. At times fulfilling and interesting and other times just plain frustrating. Par for the course in life.

            Recognizing that I had *survived* psychiatry helped me to connect the dots of my story in a way where the big picture became very clear. This is a phrase which I am teaching to others all the time, “psychiatric survivor.” That totally gets their attention!

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          • That was a big step to what has since been good shifting and healing continuing to occur for me, recognizing that I had SURVIVED something…Recognizing that I had *survived* psychiatry helped me to connect the dots of my story in a way where the big picture became very clear.

            Yes, this illustrates my previous point exactly. One of them anyway. Which is why there have been so many variations of the organizational name “Network Against Psychiatric ASSAULT,” and not “Network Against Incompetent Treatment” or some such.

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          • That’s interesting, oldhead, and my first reaction to what you wrote here is that the way I have experienced incompetent treatment (aka malpractice), it actually felt assaultive. I’d call it both, in fact.

            I’ve experienced out and out bullying and shrinks snapping at me, becoming impatient and rude, eye-rolling, even yelling on two occasion, etc., which is both assaultive and highly incompetent service from an incompetent professional.

            And, I’ve experienced naïve questions, poor insights, and a lot of involuntary projections (counter-transference), which I’d put more under the category of incompetence, but it does feel assaultive, as well, due to the vulnerability of the client (me, in this case) at that moment. That’s the alleged understanding and contract of service, which, in the end, is not honored. That can cause damage.

            When it comes to psychiatry, and psychotherapy in general I believe, when it is incompetent it is assaultive and vice versa.

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          • They claim to be “healers” and are “board certified” so that it’s legally recognized as such, and instead of providing healing, the institution of psychiatry, via its standard “practice” or “service”–however that is judged and perceived–makes people all kinds of unwell. To me, that’s malpractice.

            For the sake of activism against psychiatry, I’d rather have a reasonable argument FOR malpractice than to undermine it with the perspective which you are offering. In fact, I’m still waiting for a class action citing widespread institutional malpractice. To me, that’s exactly what psychiatry is.

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          • The problem with that is that you then by implication concede that some of what they do you consider acceptable. If you wanted to declare psychiatry malpractice by definition I’d go along with that. In practice the standard for malpractice is not whether what the dr. did is harmful but whether it conforms to “treatment standards.”

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          • That’s my understanding. Doctors can commit any manner of destructive or deadly actions as long as their colleagues agree that this is considered “standard practice.” So it is that in the realm of childbirth, it is more dangerous for a doctor to recommend a hot bath than it is to perform a Caesarian section.

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          • “If you wanted to declare psychiatry malpractice by definition I’d go along with that.”

            That is exactly my position. And this wasn’t an overnight revelation simply because psychiatry had harmed me, personally, in so many ways. This was a gradual awakening, to throw it all into that category, as I continued to work in advocacy and activism after having ditched “mental health” services altogether.

            I left behind psychiatry 14 years ago but since then I have learned and processed more and more while healing very deeply from all that I had experienced from “mental health care/treatment” as physical and emotional trauma, and have now heard countless stories and have spoken to so many people about this, including on here. The sum total of my experience to date puts me at this conclusion right now. From Miriam-Webster:

            Definition of malpractice

            1 : a dereliction of professional duty or a failure to exercise an ordinary degree of professional skill or learning by one (such as a physician) **rendering professional services which results in injury, loss, or damage**

            2 **an INJURIOUS, negligent, or improper practice**

            At the same time, to be sure, I would not accuse all psychiatrists necessarily of harming people directly, but more so by enabling the situation, as is necessary in a system like this. Otherwise, it would be so fragile it would never stand up to being called out as it has been. But it is well-protected by tons of enablers, and to me, that is like being an accomplice to systemic abuse and malpractice, as I’d continue to call it.

            Although I do believe that so many psychiatrists do quite a bit of harm to clients, and what makes it especially sinister is that negative or critical feedback from the client is met with defensiveness and even blatant gaslighting. I know that this is largely what “DSM diagnosing” is about, to undermine the credibility of the client, which, in essence, is marginalizing, which is what I call “social abuse.”

            That entire system of diagnosing I would already put on the table as systemic malpractice. It may be the “standard,” but it’s sub-par and causes calamity for people and society, while not at all addressing relevant issues. So I would challenge that entire process as systemic malpractice because it is, both, injurious AND negligent.

            I don’t know how any of this would stand up legally, but that’s where I am with it at this point in time, as per my personal perspective and belief.

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          • And just to be clear, by “enablers,” I’m referring to other professionals in the system–and mh industry on the whole–who know all too well about what is going on here and could make an impact by calling this out (to someone’s face, not just in writing), but who do not, for whatever reason (job security, perhaps?). There’s a lot of fear that comes up when faced with confronting abuse, because it is generally systemic and that can be a rough go for the one calling it out. It’s why they call it courageous. It truly is, because it is nerve wracking, any way you slice it. Still, someone’s gotta do it or it simply will not get done, and nothing will change.

            Over the years, I’ve been direct in my grievances, had countless “dialogues” with clinicians, directors, etc. where I spoke my truth directly, and while it did not please them, I made enough waves which led to changes around me.

            And it was definitely not without consequences. I sacrificed my entire career to do it on this level. No regrets, I am fully satisfied and fulfilled with my choice. It’s turned out well for me because I was following my heart the entire time. I went by what I knew to be true, regardless of what others might think or project onto me. I had to let go of that altogether to get through this.

            But I was not allowed near any of this once they got that I was deeply critical of the system, and that I was, in fact, calling it all out as I went along. Once this became apparent to them, the gatekeepers came out in droves to keep me at arm’s length from their system. I must have been making my point well, considering how all they wanted to do was keep me out of their midst after a while!

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    • To bring this particular thread full circle to date–the judge has been approved to the US Supreme Court, so still plenty of waking up to do here, to my mind. Not terribly surprised. We have mid-term elections coming up in a month, so the heat is up and that will be the next tell of how awake people are by then and what they want to do about it. My way of seeing it, in any event.

      At this point, I consider Dr. Ford to be a true hero in the fight against power abuse and oppression, and a major catalyst of change–a big push in that direction, at least–through her courageous truth-speaking and literally stepping up to the podium. I’ve done my own version of public sharing over the years, but what she did was mammoth, and I can’t even imagine what that must have felt like to testify in front of that group and the world as she did. Makes my heart pound just to even write about it. I remember thinking the same thing about Anita Hill, back when that was happening. There is power in trusting your heart that way, to speak hard truth, with a worldwide audience, no less.

      And thanks to Dr. Ford’s gutsy act, the world got a good view of what is behind the curtain and underneath the masks, to mix metaphors. I think it all applies. Brava to her! It was an awakening, first steps at least. Great example of what it takes, imo. I wish her the very best and I imagine she is doing good healing from this. I hope so at least.

      Oh, and I just realized I answered my own question about leadership with integrity. This is what I would call leadership, and it’s by example. Now that’s integrity!

      Interesting how things can be not as they seem nor as we might have always thought of them or imagined them, yet it there it is–leading by example, rather than by control, manipulation, and deceit. What a concept.

      Then there’s Rosa Parks, another groundbreaker and beautiful example of kicking off social change with a civil act of disobedience. I guess now that I’m thinking about it, leadership with integrity exists all throughout history. Just not (or hardly, maybe) in public office!

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  16. Still waiting for Richard to define what HE means by “identity politics,” as he is the one using it in a critical way. What others mean by it is irrelevant in terms of this conversation. Once he defines it I may even agree with him, but people throw around way too many undefined terms to have an intelligent discussion.

    As I see it, “identity politics” would mean to unquestioningly accept someone’s political analysis SIMPLY because he/she is a member of the oppressed group being discussed. However that group COLLECTIVELY has the right to define its own issues and demands, and to organize for those goals as it sees fit. Examples would be the Black liberation movement or women who choose to live and/or organize separate from male support. This is not “identity politics” but self-determination in my view, so it’s important to know if Richard is referring to this or something else. Again, internet definitions are irrelevant, what matters is what RICHARD means.

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    • It’s a Nazi term, oldhead. They created it along with “cultural Marxism”, aka “cultural Bolshevism” during the 1930s and ‘40s.

      It’s a way of trying to argue that marginalized people shouldn’t be able to assert what our issues are and how we need them to be solved either as individuals or as a group. We must simply accept that we have it fine as it is, because white men tell us we complain too much.

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    • Generally I think identity politics has more to do with the identity of the group having the discussion than with that of any individual. Definitions are out there, no need for Richard to fabricate one, but if he does come up with something, okay.

      I haven’t wanted to enter the fray on this issue because of the flack identity politics has received of late coming from at least two directions that I know about. 1. The right of the Democratic party has used identity politics as a scapegoat for the Trump victory. Laughable, perhaps. 2. Right-wing, neo-Nazi, white Supremacist groups, have appropriated the term to suit their own nefarious purposes, agendas, and designs.

      Those right-wing groups aren’t doing so well. They are a minority group even in the area of identity politics. I guess that gives identity politics of other groups some clout, and an edge.

      Way back when there was this thing about ‘the personal’ being seen as ‘political’. So long as ‘the personal’ is ‘political’, I think there will be a place for identity politics. Also, I don’t see how identity politics doesn’t relate when it comes to the matter of gender identity. For some groups, where is the political action, as a group anyway, without identification? I’ve seen the psychiatric survivor movement as a matter of identity politics, too. Cease to identify with that movement, and either you’ve found a “cure” (for the illusion of “illness”, not “the illness”, of course), or you must be perfectly content in the “patient/consumer/user” (obedient submissive) role. I think that, beyond class warfare, there is something to be said for standing up and fighting back beside ones compeers.

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      • This may be a term we don’t need at all. But if I were to have a definition of “identity politics” it would include the sort of personal self-indulgence that leads so many relatively privileged people to consider their social and sex lives to be of revolutionary significance comparable to that of, oh, global racism and imperialism, for example.

        I think what many are criticizing when they use “identity politics” in a critical way may be what I would consider a misuse of the “personal is political” concept, where the personal subsumes the political, or the political is used to promote individual preoccupations.

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        • the sort of personal self-indulgence that leads so many relatively privileged people to consider their social and sex lives to be of revolutionary significance comparable to that of, oh, global racism and imperialism, for example.

          Can you give some examples of what you mean?

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        • When class struggle can actually be conceived as an identity politics conflict, I have my doubts about your way of perceiving this matter, OH. All politics, and especially all identity politics, in other words, is not a matter of white privilege. And I don’t think the self-indulgence argument flies where we are talking about assemblies of oppressed people, identifying as such, collectively seeking redress.

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          • Definitions are out there, OldHead, and the internet gives us easy access to them. It’s not like that is something we have to come up with by scratch. You just go to a search engine, type ‘identity politics definition’ into the search box, give a click of the mouse, and see what this or that dictionary or encyclopedia says. There’s no need for anybody to fabricate anything just to please you. Want an idea of what I’m getting at? Google, Lycos, Yahoo, whatever people use these days… It’s out there somewhere. Trust me.

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          • If you had been paying attention (though I admit I haven’t been reading line for line here) you would get that what’s important to me here is — as the term clearly has no consistent meaning — how Richard defines it, as he is the one who introduced it as a way of dissing “survivor”-led anti-psychiatry organizing.

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          • Admittedly, I’m not out to challenge Richard over his position although I think it is the wrong position. I’m not sure how possible survivor-led antipsychiatry would be anyway, our numbers being somewhat slim. I don’t see a specifically survivor antipsychiatry movement taking off anywhere, although there are a few groups that would try to be such. I think it is going to take an alliance with dissident professionals, and other like minded people, to make any kind of real movement of it.

            As for identity politics not having a consistent meaning, I can give you a few dictionary definitions, and anybody who wants to can reach their own conclusions about consistency. I tend to think that the psychiatric survivor movement itself arose out of identity politics, and so my view is probably not so consistent with your view.

            I particularly liked the definition given by Dictionary dot com, so let’s start there.

            identity politics

            noun (used with a singular or plural verb)

            1. political activity or movements based on or catering to the cultural, ethnic, gender, racial, religious, or social interests that characterize a group identity.

            Then there is Google.

            i·den·ti·ty pol·i·tics

            noun: identity politics

            a tendency for people of a particular religion, race, social background, etc., to form exclusive political alliances, moving away from traditional broad-based party politics.

            Also Merriam-Webster.

            identity politics noun, plural in form but singular or plural in construction
            Definition of identity politics

            : politics in which groups of people having a particular racial, religious, ethnic, social, or cultural identity tend to promote their own specific interests or concerns without regard to the interests or concerns of any larger political group

            Finally, Wikipedia.

            Identity politics are political positions based on the interests and perspectives of social groups with which people identify. Identity politics includes the ways in which people’s politics are shaped by aspects of their identity through loosely correlated social organizations. Examples include social organizations based on age, religion, social class or caste, culture, dialect, disability, education, ethnicity, language, nationality, sex, gender identity, generation, occupation, profession, race, political party affiliation, sexual orientation, settlement, urban and rural habitation, and veteran status.

            Alright. Yeah, Something like that, and I’m done.

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        • Every oppressed group naturally focuses on its own specific interests. What would make this “identity politics” in my book would be if a particular group saw its own interests as superseding those of equally oppressed groups, or disconnected from the larger struggle. (Which is hardly what I have in mind vis. a vis. psychiatry, as Richard seemed to be claiming, and which is how this all came up in the first place.)

          Over and out.

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          • Realistically, every oppressed group is likely to see its own interests as superseding those of any other oppressed group, and when it comes to waiting for the most oppressed to receive justice before starting the struggle of your own, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

            You don’t want the person with the anchor tied around their ankle to drag you under with them. Usually, it’s a situation of, as the song goes, “live and let die”. Enough people go, and you’ve got extinction. Not a good result at all I would imagine.

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          • I don’t define identity politics in a way that makes large issues and other struggles unimportant. That, I see as identity politics at its worst and identity politics does not have to work that way (though, I suspect it is what Richard thinks of when he thinks of identify politics). Rather I define identity politics as organizing based on a common identity. I see room for that. I likewise see room for more broad based coalitions of people. Annd when it comes to antipsychiatry per se, I think that broad based coalitions are the only way to go.

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          • I like the term “coalition.” It suggests that the people involved don’t have to agree on all their goals, but have common interests that allow working together toward an agreed upon goal that forwards both/all groups in the coalition. This kind of thinking is vitally important for a movement relating to “mental health”, because it is a form of oppression from which no one is entirely immune, and which cuts across all other identity groups to some degree or another.

            I will reiterate Poison Ivy’s point, which I also think is important: the term Identity Politics has been hijacked by the extreme right and I think we need to be very careful to define what we mean when we’re talking about it. I very much appreciate the clarity of your definition.

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          • Rather I define identity politics as organizing based on a common identity. I see room for that. I likewise see room for more broad based coalitions of people. And when it comes to antipsychiatry per se, I think that broad based coalitions are the only way to go.

            Well, we’re maybe inching closer to a collective understanding of what WE mean by “identity politics,” though I suspect part of the problem is that the issues are more complex than such a term can encompass.

            Obviously different groups define their own interests and articulate the dynamics of their particular form of oppression; this is close to saying that water is wet. If this is what is meant by “identity politics” I’d say the term is redundant. If it has a viable meaning I’d put it in terms of prioritizing one’s “identity,” whether “assigned” or chosen, over the interests of the larger struggle. It could also refer to an assumption that simply being a member of an oppressed group automatically makes one an expert on the political analysis of that oppression, or a spokesperson for that group.

            This is sort of academic, but I don’t know of any credible movement on behalf of an oppressed group that doesn’t define its own interests THEN connect with the larger movement to the degree possible. This includes defining the movement’s allies, not being defined BY those who proclaim themselves as such. There’s no reason why the anti-psych movement shouldn’t do the same. Nor is it mandatory that we agree on everything.

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          • Aren’t you being a tad authoritarian, OldHead? I think every member of every oppressed group has something important to say, and as for official mouth pieces, are you talking about on or off salary?

            You haven’t expressed the need for any pyramidal type hierarchy, but if we aren’t going for that, maybe the rank and file can have a voice, too, huh?

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          • Frank, I have no idea what you’re even arguing with, what you think you disagree with me about, or why you believe it has anything to do with my theoretical comments to Bonnie in this highly theoretical discussion. Plus before you can have a “rank & file” you need an organization. Is somebody’s “voice” being suppressed here somehow?

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          • I don’t have a high opinion of experts, OldHead, I have a much higher opinion of members of oppressed groups. I know some members of oppressed groups who got to be members of those oppressed groups solely on account of the opinions of so-called experts.

            I think practical matters always outweigh any theoretical considerations. If we’re going to build a broad based movement, we don’t want to put too many obstacles in the way of doing so. This “definition” business is one of those obstacles that we just don’t need.

            “Plus before you can have a “rank & file” you need an organization.”‘

            Wrong. Before you can have any leadership you need an organization. The rank and file is out there. You are having discussions with them right here and now at MIA.

            Also, you want to identify your opponents. You want a position paper composed. You want those definitions you are talking about. Those are things that come out of an organization. They could be the results of committee meetings. A movement in minutiae, or a few small particles of it. When you have that organization, doing so is no longer theoretical, no longer an abstraction.

            At this level of abstraction, should you want to be heard, your only recourse is literary, publish or perish, otherwise, without the collective effort of an organization, it’s going to go nowhere.

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          • I’m not out to bash theory, OldHead. I really didn’t realize this discussion you were having was so very theoretical as you would suggest. Nothing wrong with emphasizing theory so long as you don’t over emphasize it. Let me just add that I wouldn’t want to neglect practice either. Without practice, if it were music we were making, I don’t think we’d be getting very far beyond cacophonic noise, and sometimes it would leave me with the feeling that we really needed to work on our harmonies.

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          • As in “practice makes perfect” or as in “practice vs. theory”?

            Do you equate “action” with demonstrations, arrests, screaming mobs, etc.? Because most action is pretty mundane when you’re involved in education, it involves lots of words. Demonstrations are more like pep rallies, not that that’s bad.

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          • Both. I think theory grows out of practice rather than the other way around. Theory without practice is kind of very lame.

            Do I equate action (without quotations marks in this case) with “demonstrations, arrests, screaming mobs, etc.”? Not exactly. We’ve been talking about conferences, too. Conferences are actions. Conferences and periodic meetings. Things that can lead to other actions. Meetings that come up with agendas. Agendas that can then be carried through. Checking off items on a list is, I would think, better than no items and no list.

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  17. Have taken these quotes from comments on this post:


    “ADHD is the hardest thing to cure, requiring 100 sessions.”

    “My therapist cured my OCD that I didn’t even know I had.”

    “meditative alpha state is a predominant sub-type of ADHD.”

    The question I have for you all is – how are we going to engage people who think like this and have these beliefs ?

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  18. Oldhead, my sense is that deep down, you know some of the conundrums that Richard has over identity politics. I have seen you in discussions with him over the formation of an antipscychiatry organization when you argued for less rights for people in the organization if they were not psychiatric survivors, and Richard was uneasy with that. That surely is a type of identity politics that goes beyond the prioritizing of the goals of a specific movement–and that is an example of the type of identity politics that not everyone is happy with. I am somewhat at a loss for understanding why you keep pushing Richard for a definition when the disagreements between the two of you have come up often and have been pretty clear. Beyond that, many people, though especially Richard, have been clear that they would prefer to be part of an antipsychiatry organization where things like class analysis, gender analysis, etc. has a role to play. I am somewhat between the two of you on some of these issues; nonetheless I very much get Richard’s concerns.

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    • I am somewhat at a loss for understanding why you keep pushing Richard for a definition

      I am somewhat at a loss as to why you don’t think being able to define one’s terms is important. Since I am not here to discuss the formation of an organization, many of these issues are academic. I’m just responding to what’s in front of me. But in general I hold to my position that the movement should take its direction from conscious survivors, and that the primary role of “allies” is to support whatever that may be.

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      • It sounds pretty straightforward and simple to me, oldhead.

        Just like in the feminist movement, men need to learn to take a backseat;
        and in racial justice movements, white folks need to learn to take a backseat

        Anyone claiming to be an ally in the psychiatric survivors’ movement needs to learn to take a backseat

        btw, do you notice that punctuation mark behind the word ‘survivors’? It’s there to denote possession, as in “The psychiatric survivors’ movement belongs to psychiatric survivors themselves,” (but I do not digress)

        Voices of other interested parties (friends/family of survivors, woke professionals, etc.) should never be given primacy. Anyone who is truly an ally would never dispute that, or try to angle for more power than a backseat position.

        We all learn in kindergarten that if it doesn’t belong to you, it’s not yours to do with as you please, so don’t try to take it, didn’t we?

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        • Did someone here actually say that anyone but survivors should be centered in the survivors’ movement (which is not the same as anti-psychiatry activism)? Nope. This “discussion” is all about individual ego clashes and It’s not what it seems on the surface.I’m calling it out because I am tired of reading this manipulative shit every time I look at MiA.

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          • It’s not a discussion. It’s me fending off people who would deny survivors the right to control their own destinies. I don’t know what you mean by survivor “centered.” I’m saying that a “survivors movement” that is not anti-psychiatry is not a true movement, as movements need to move somewhere, presumably in a positive direction. I’m also saying if there is not a vanguard voice of and for anti-psychiatry survivors it is no longer our movement, as was demonstrated in 1985. Once we no longer had control our gains were smashed and our ideals and rhetoric used against us. Never again.

            No one here has to agree with me. Have I ever anywhere told people NOT to organize as they see fit? No. So my comments and opinions should not be arousing this much emotion, especially among non-survivors.

            My insistence that Richard define what he means by “identity politics” is based solely on his use of the term to diss survivor identified and directed organizing. If he’s going to use a term that way he needs to define it, I don’t think that’s too complicated.

            That said, I agree that this thread is probably serving no useful purpose at this point. People believe what they believe, and I think everyone here has made his or her beliefs as abundantly clear by now as they’re going to be.

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          • uprising,

            You said that this discussion is about individual ego clashes, said you were “calling it out,” and you said this as a reply to my comment, not anyone else’s, so how is that not directed at me?

            I say your comment is misplaced as is your angst.

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          • You’re welcome, oldhead. I have not been keeping up with every word, but reading new comments now & then. What you said made sense to me, which is why I expounded on it.
            In my point of view, it is just as absurd for people who are not psych survivors to try to have (leadership, ownership, a primary voice, etc.) in the psych survivors’ movement as it would be for:
            whites to have a leadership voice in the racial justice movement;
            or men to have any ownership/leadership of the women’s rights movement

            In my point of view, an essential part of being an ally is the understanding that fighting with a group of people for their rights/causes does not mean you are fighting for that group. Being an ally means that you understand that it is not your fight.

            I have not spoke up much in all this, but this seemed a very important thing to pipe up and say, because self-determination is a core value for me. I demand it for myself, and for others as well.

            When someone who thinks they are an ally (and may indeed have been one previously) begins to encroach on the leadership decisions, they are no longer behaving like an ally.

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      • I have no difficulty figuring out what either of you mean. It’s more than I think you already know from a long history of trying to come to terms with the differences between you and Richard exactly what Richard means and so I don’t know why you keep putting the question out to him. And I just felt the need to say that.

        All the best.

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        • Because it’s not all about Richard (or me), this is a public discussion. And I do NOT know what he means, not exactly, not approximately. I imagine your own definition might be different, since you don’t use it as a slur. Why is it harder than pulling teeth to get a simple definition from Richard so that us non-telepaths can discuss the various forms of identity politics? I didn’t start this.

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    • I have seen you in discussions with him over the formation of an antipscychiatry organization when you argued for less rights for people in the organization if they were not psychiatric survivors, and Richard was uneasy with that. That surely is a type of identity politics that goes beyond the prioritizing of the goals of a specific movement–and that is an example of the type of identity politics that not everyone is happy with. I am somewhat at a loss for understanding why you keep pushing Richard for a definition when the disagreements between the two of you have come up often and have been pretty clear.

      Finally some reality.

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      • Sorry but I already addressed that. I don’t appreciate private conversations being publicized, however there’s nothing here I would back away from in principle — also note that such a problem can’t arise in a survivor-only environment.

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          • That’s ridiculous. If my beliefs are dissed using a term that is undefined I have a right to insist that it be defined, as do those who are reading. It is not necessary to delve into the past, everything that needs to be discussed is right here.

            Anyway, this is primarily a matter for anti-psychiatry survivors, it is not really an MIA concern. I’m happy to drop it.

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          • All

            The reason I have not joined in this discussion at this time is because there is NO WAY I can do it the justice it needs and deserves in a comment section. I am planning, very soon, to write a blog with the rough title, ” Moving Beyond Identity politics On the Road to Ending Psychiatric Abuse.”

            I take some responsibility for how this discussion has progressed in a negative direction up to this point. Even with all my experience in political movements, I have underestimated how divisive Identity Politics can be in certain political struggles, AND why it must be addressed in a comprehensive and deep going way.

            Identity Politics can mean many things to many people (as some people here have attempted to define it), and some of these understandings can be very positive in certain historical contexts. BUT we can also see how divisive Identity Politics can become when it is used as club to beat down contending political viewpoints, especially those strongly advocating for a class analysis.

            We have ALL been negatively affected by certain counter currents in the evolution of Identity Politics, and it has been reflected in this discussion, and other past discussions at MIA.

            Oldhead said: ” If my beliefs are dissed using a term that is undefined…”

            My intent in these discussions has never been to “diss” (as in disrespect) people’s viewpoints. Disagreeing with, and challenging other’s viewpoints is NOT “dissing” people. I hope that Oldhead and LavenderSage, in particular, will be open to a future, in depth discussion of this important topic based on a much deeper presentation.

            Please be patient and give me a chance to do this topic the justice it deserves and wait a short while until I can complete and publish a new blog at MIA. It is a very complicated and controversial subject, so I need to dig deep and seek a clarity that can be unifying as it attempts to broaden our overall analysis of how to move forward with important human rights struggles.


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          • You, Richard, and OldHead, have been complaining about identity politics. I realize that you are going at it from a Marxian perspective, but I also realize, as pointed out before, that Marxism can be critiqued as a brand of identity politics itself when it comes to proletariat versus bourgeoisie.

            While identity politics in itself is divisive. One group realizes that it’s interests do not necessarily correspond to the interests of another group. It can also be unifying in that various groups can see where their interests are joined with that of their fellows who belong to other groups. In this sense, it is simple realism.

            Alright. I’ve said my piece. While we do not agree, I respect your opinion, I think you are entitled to it, and I await your blog post. I wouldn’t expect, if you were doing so, that such a article is likely change many minds, but it should be good for some interesting discussion on the subject nonetheless.

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          • Hopefully Richard’s blog will answer a simple question I asked, which has yet gone unanswered: was the Black Panther Party an example of “identity politics”?

            I hope at least some people understand my original intent here, which was to explore the distinctions between “identity politics” and self-determination. Such a discussion cannot be had without first defining one’s terms.

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          • Marxian class analysis is about relationship to the means of production.

            Sure, and where you stand in that relationship. Do you own the means of production, or do you sell your labor to operate that means of production?

            Pardon me if I resort to Wikipedia by way of explanation.

            The view that identity politics rooted in challenging racism, sexism, and the like actually obscures class inequality is widespread in the United States and many other Western nations; however, this framing ignores how class-based politics are identity politics themselves.


            The source is listed if you want to look into it.

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          • Please be patient and give me a chance to do this topic the justice it deserves and wait a short while until I can complete and publish a new blog at MIA. It is a very complicated and controversial subject, so I need to dig deep and seek a clarity that can be unifying as it attempts to broaden our overall analysis of how to move forward with important human rights struggles.

            Fair enough, no rush. But please begin with a definition, or at least an assortment of such. And try not to over think it. 🙂

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  19. I picked up 4 definitions from the internet, Oldhead, that I laid out there in an earlier comment. We could go back to it if you wish. I really don’t think Richard is under any obligation to define his terms when anybody can resort to the dictionary.

    Anti-psychiatry survivors doesn’t work for me, however, if you had written anti-psychiatry psychiatric survivors that would have done it. I’m sure psychiatry might point to a whole bunch of anti-psychiatry casualties, but, you know, those folks are pretty biased, turning a blind eye to the casualties for which they are directly responsible.

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