Forced sterilization and eugenics policies were popular federally-funded programs that continued in some states until the early 1980s, with a more recent re-emergence being seen among prison populations.
This widespread alleged prevention of mental disease was supported and thrived due to the belief that madness was inherited and part of degenerate stock. People believed that they could prevent criminality, emotional suffering, sexual deviance, “feeblemindedness,” and other human ailments by simply cutting off the genetic supply.
The thing is, this didn’t work. In fact, what forced sterilization was really meant to accomplish is eradicating “undesirable” populations, such as minorities, immigrants, people living in poverty, and, of course, those deemed mentally ill.
The forced sterilization of innocent and vulnerable populations was, perhaps, most pertinent in the Unites States among Native Americans. In Bruce Levine’s new book, Resisting Illegitimate Authority: A Thinking Person’s Guide to Being an Anti-Authoritarian, he describes how this is genocide led by an authoritarian medical community, particularly psychiatry, and how it thrived. Framing deep emotional pain and trauma as genetic disease is a convenient way of claiming inferior genetic stock with absolute political correctness.
Levine’s book is an exploration of many anti-authoritarians throughout history who have fought back against this kind of inhumanity, injustice, and blind conformity, often to their own demise. In a sense, it is a sort of resistance handbook.
He illustrates how politicians, teachers, and mental health professionals perpetuate and demand obedience and adherence to the status quo at all costs. And the costs have been many. Those who dare to dissent, like Malcom X, George Carlin, or Edward Snowden, are often ostracized, demeaned, stripped of power, and controlled by psychiatry.
The evidence can be found in the media’s psychopathologizing of whistleblowers, such as Snowden, Julian Assange, Ralph Nader, and Chelsea Manning. And, there are always doctors on hand to support such claims.
Doctors embrace authoritarianism at a higher percentage than the general population. They joined the Nazi party at a far greater rate than any other profession, while psychologists, specifically, were the only profession willing to help guide practices of torture against detainees in Guantanamo.
At the same time, according to Levine, those who get diagnosed with serious mental illnesses generally are those with an anti-authoritarian proclivity and an aversion to submission or coercion.
It’s much easier to claim mental illness than to look at the reality of society: child abuse, inequality, greed, racism, poverty, toxic family dynamics, and other oppressive forces conveniently can be ignored while, instead, nefarious illusive genes and brain chemicals become the enemy. Nothing has to change.
Levine states: “Today, a potentially huge army of young anti-authoritarians are being depoliticized by mental illness diagnoses and by the attributions that their inattention, anxiety, depression, and disruptiveness are caused by defective biochemistry — and not by their alienation from a dehumanizing society and their resistance to illegitimate authorities.”
Psychiatry and institutionalization are forced submissiveness and obedience, not healing. The DSM, proclaimed to be a scientific guidebook, is little more than a political instrument used to control undesirable behaviors and experiences.
The mental health system is able to claim control over people who oppose the status quo at younger and younger ages. This is largely due to the authoritarian education system that serves as a place for essentially indoctrinating children into an authoritarian mentality and way of existing in the world. If children dare to question authority, protest or refuse to conform, they risk being labelled, drugged, and marginalized as sick and a troublemaker. They might even be thrown out of school altogether.
On October 2nd, in the year 2017, a young girl was expelled (expelled!) from school after refusing to stand for the pledge of allegiance. She is black. She was silently and peacefully protesting the racist mistreatment of minorities in the US. And her school kicked her out as a result.
Schools go to great efforts, in collusion with the mental health industrial complex, to suppress and silence dissent before it even begins.
“While organized adults have successfully liberated themselves from being psychopathologized and marginalized, mental health authorities have increasingly zeroed in on a politically powerless population: anti-authoritarian youth,” says Levine.
Who will fight for our rights when everybody is drugged and tranquilized into conformity?
Who can we rely on to effectively fight back against inhumane and oppressive policies, especially during an era that is finding increased acceptance of civil rights violations?
Fortunately, Levine offers some hope and direction with his book. Age-old practices of compassion, healing, comradery, peaceful protest, and the willingness of some individuals to risk marginalization and persecution in the resistance against illegitimate authority are key.
With Levine’s book, those who wish to fight back will find that they are not alone, and can even learn from the lessons and mistakes made by those who’ve paved the road before. With the political, educational, and mental health fields joining forces in ever more powerful authoritarian rule, it is essential that powerful opposing masses stand up for justice. Resisting Illegitimate Authority: A Thinking Person’s Guide to Being an Anti-Authoritarian is a resource that can fuel the fires that desperately need to burn high.
Levine describes the traits of an anti-authoritarian as having “a compulsion to speak out against cruelty and illegitimate authority, no matter what the political cost; a willingness to sacrifice one’s own freedom for the cause of freedom; a compulsion for truth-telling; a fierce loyalty along with scorn for disloyalty; and a repulsion with hypocrisy.”
With all the efforts to rid the world of “undesirables” through forced sterilization and coerced drugging, oppositional and anti-authoritarian people continue to resist and refuse to conform. Try as they might to suppress opposition, it will never disappear. Social justice and freedom continues to be fought for, no matter how much those in power try to prevent it. Perhaps it’s just in our (very human) DNA.