Fighting the Suppression of Dissent: A Guidebook for Those Who Refuse to Conform

Noel Hunter, PsyD
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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.

46 COMMENTS

  1. Sounds excellent. Hopefully Mr. Levine will continue in an anti-psychiatry direction, not just regard the current task as one of dealing with “abuses.”

    This is encouraging to me as it seems to back up my analysis that psychiatry is a branch of the prison system, not a rogue branch of medicine.

  2. Thank you for these important words. I want everyone to read one the poems, written by Sylvia Plath, because she writes about us – about our species. ANTI AUTHORITARIAN MIND MEANS –PSYCHOLOGICAL MIND/poetic mind.
    Yes Sylvia Plath was also tortured by psychiatry. She received ECT. Hillman writes about poetic point of view, and Sylvia writes about us.

    Sylvia Plath – Mushrooms

    Overnight, very
    Whitely, discreetly,
    Very quietly

    Our toes, our noses
    Take hold on the loam,
    Acquire the air.

    Nobody sees us,
    Stops us, betrays us;
    The small grains make room.

    Soft fists insist on
    Heaving the needles,
    The leafy bedding,

    Even the paving.
    Our hammers, our rams,
    Earless and eyeless,

    Perfectly voiceless,
    Widen the crannies,
    Shoulder through holes. We

    Diet on water,
    On crumbs of shadow,
    Bland-mannered, asking

    Little or nothing.
    So many of us!
    So many of us!

    We are shelves, we are
    Tables, we are meek,
    We are edible,

    Nudgers and shovers
    In spite of ourselves.
    Our kind multiplies:

    We shall by morning
    Inherit the earth.
    Our foot’s in the door.

    James Hillman, Re -visioning psychology.

  3. In the absence of the primacy of faith in God and the rule of just law, many things rush in to fill the vacuum, including psychiatry and the therapeutic state. The abolition of psychiatry, though necessary, cannot stop other things from rushing in to fill the void. Psychiatry is a pseudo-scientific system of slavery and a false religion that aims to be one of society’s supervisors, and therefore it must be abolished. But even after it is abolished, hopefully sooner than later, there will still be a vacuum, or a void, that new supervisors of society will be eager to fill.

    • I don’t have any more faith in the God of the Christians than I do in “mental illness”, the God of the “mental health” religion and the church of psychiatry. Superstition, last time I looked, was still superstition, and disputed by the empirical evidence as revealed through logic, the scientific method of research, and plain common sense. This quarrel between reason and folly, between faith and philosophy, between skepticism and devotion, has been going on a long time. You stick to your side and I will stick to mine, and we will see where we end up eventually…with the worms, or with the angels. Or maybe we won’t see, as the borg moves in mysterious ways.

  4. from the article “They joined the Nazi party at a far greater rate than any other profession”

    They still are dictators like in the 1940’s, they believe the drugs renamed as medicine work for “mental illness”.

    https://www.thedoctorstv.com/videos/can-a-pill-track-if-you-are-taking-your-meds

    People who are in withdrawal will likely be illogical and unreasonable from their physical chemical imbalance, they the doctors created.

    People who want drugs https://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/i-don-t-have-an-alcohol-problem-i-ve-got-plenty-of-alcohol/

    I don’t want your drugs. If the drugs are medicine, explain to me how it is medicine, how do they work?

    Otherwise the drugs are just an invisible rope and chains.

  5. @noel:
    I think you should always also note that the DSM-5 is a CATALOG of BILLING CODES….
    And Mental-Illness-Industrial-Complex should be capitalized.
    I sometimes self-identify as an “escaped former mental patient”! LOL
    The BEST thing I EVER did, was turn my back on psychiatry & psych drugs over 20 years ago.
    The WORST thing I ever did was go to a shrink & take psych drugs in the first place!
    Psychiatrists are actually seriously discussing “diagnosing”, and “medicating” so-called “mental illnesses” IN THE WOMB. No, there is no depth of depravity which psychiatry will NOT drop down to….
    If there was true financial and economic justice in the world, Bruce Levine would receive full cover price for the copy of his new book, that I would receive free. No, I’m not some self-entitled idiot who thinks I should just get stuff free. I live in the abject poverty of Social Security Disability as the result of Iatrogenic Neurolepsis. Too many quack psychiatrists gave me too many drugs, which I should never have been given in the first place. I’ll talk to the head Librarian here in town, and see if I can get her to order a copy of
    RESISTING ILLEGITIMATE AUTHORITY. The City can pay for it….
    KEEP UP the GOOD WORK, PEOPLE!

  6. There is a part of this that is more relevant to more ordinary people who speak truth to power.

    It can be more powerful to suppress with psychiatry than with claims of one who resists as being a liar, being malicious, cruel, destructive, dangerous etc. Psychiatrising dissent says all that and says it is a part of an intrinsic defect which the person can’t help. It invites pity and brings in permission
    for “respectable”, “repsonsible” others to ignore any annoying facty things. The supposed scientific truth of the defective individual allows for a chillingly polite ostracism, decorated with sympathetic sentiments for the poor vicitm of mental illness.

    “Outllaws” and “troublemakers” have a better chance, outright hostility and aggression can be easier to accept and overcome.

    It has become natural and ordinary for the words “evil” and “sick” to be used interchangeably. In some arenas “sick” or “crazy” are used instead of any synonym or desriptors of “bad”. Soon they will probably be the only kinds of words that are acceptable to use. But the added,artificial sweetener of pity is very dangerous to individuals, to communities and to societies indeed.

    • Yep, you’re definitely getting it. As a law enforcement tool psychiatry has the advantage of being presented as beneficial to the individual, thus convincing many to request their own handcuffs and proudly show them off.

      The system has it precalculated that, as society grows more & more suffocating, a certain portion of the population will react in predictable ways — extreme rage, extreme tears, suicidality, “being depressed,” etc. Lest this be correctly connected by the people to conditions generated by the nature of the system itself, it has devised a strategy of diverting blame by blaming the victims, by labeling their reactions as “symptoms” of their “diseases” and “disorders.” This shifts the onus for solving the problem away from the structure of society itself, which could be solved collectively through revolution, to picking through the biochemical minutiae of the brain matter which communicates valid signals of urgent dysfunction within the collective organism.

      Nothing wrong with OUR system; must be your brain.

        • You are NOT an “outmate” by my definition if you aren’t involved in CMH or related non-institutional psychiatry, so I wouldn’t worry about it. If you were it wouldn’t matter how you “identified.” If only it were so easy that people could “identify” themselves out of such situations.

          • Let me get this straight, if CMH is an acronym for community mental health, you are praising outpatient, for lack of a better word, institutionalization. I suggest that CMH, if it means community mental health, and community mental health system by extension, is not non-institutional, but is very institutional bureaucratic, and something someone might, if that someone could at all do so, strive to avoid. I think there is a place for safe houses and that kind of thing, but even there, mostly outside of the conventional mental health system entirely, even if that mental health system is in the community.

          • That, coupled with “mental”, is what we were called, and so we countered with a demand for mental patients’ liberation.

            There was a point when I was a psychiatric prisoner. I dunno? Does ex-psychiatric prisoner work any better for you? I think ex- or former mental patient sufficient. Everybody knows what “mental patient” means, and everybody has some clue that the whole “mental illness” thing is mostly bogus. I was never ‘patient’, nonetheless, you play the game or you don’t leave the prison, uh, I mean “hospital”.

          • I’m not emotionally invested in what people call themselves, but historically speaking the “mental patients'” liberation movement eventually became the psychiatric inmates’ liberation movement. “Mental patient” was initially used for the reasons you mention, then as consciousness began to grow it was gradually supplanted — maybe not universally, but this is consistent with the concept of uneven development.

            Still, “inmate,” “outmate” and “exmate” COULD be an unholy triumvirate for self-definitions within the movement, referring to a) people who live 24/7 in psychiatric institutions; b) people who live outside closed institutions but are under the control of the CMH system; c) those who have eschewed the system altogether.

          • Not being a “mental patient”, nor a “psychiatric inmate”, I don’t think your language game sufficiently clear in that regard, which is to say, I’m not going to identify as an “exmate”. “Exmate”, to my way of thinking, is too close to “peer”. You have the “mental health” authorities trying to control people through specialized language. The language of disease and the language of treatment. Okay. The only language I need is the language that exposes that system of social control for what it is. I prefer to severe myself from the “mental health” system completely and to put it behind me.

        • Well, calling people “outmates” is why I had to pull back from what would be your terminology, OldHead. If the contrast is between inpatients and outpatients, I reject the mental patient role entirely. Survivor is relative, but some “consumer/users”, or “outmates”, if that’s your term for the same, have survived psychiatry only in so far as it hasn’t yet killed them. They’re psychiatric victims who have not yet completely succumbed to the ravages of harsh circumstances and excessive doping.

          Were the world to stop locking up people for being different, there goes your precious mental health system. I don’t think people should be criminalized and medicalized (disempowered, marginalized, etc.) in such a fashion. You only have so very very many outpatients because inpatient incarceration started in the first place. Get rid of the system, and such people, left to their own devices, will once again be free to be themselves.

          • some “consumer/users”, or “outmates”, if that’s your term for the same, have survived psychiatry only in so far as it hasn’t yet killed them. They’re psychiatric victims who have not yet completely succumbed to the ravages of harsh circumstances and excessive doping.

            I wouldn’t call them “survivors” either. That was my original point.

            So what would be inaccurate about calling such people “outmates” — the only difference from “inmates” being the absence of 24 hour lockup?

          • Who? You’ve got the “C/S/X” movement, as it has been called, to blur that line.

            I call myself a survivor just the same as people who have experienced rape, assault, torture, and everything short of murder call themselves survivors. Anybody else can call themselves what they will. Thing is, I don’t see encouraging people to “consume” or “use” therapy, especially drug therapy. It’s like a tit that they just can’t get over, only the poison this mental health treatment tit lactates is deadly.

          • I’ve got the “C/S/X movement”? I beg to differ. There is no such animal in my lexicon, nor would I dignify the notion that such a thing ever existed.

      • Out and Oddhead, both were incredibly insightful. If it were to go unchecked, groups would be formed, maybe unwanted protesting. Easier to use “stigma” to silence the enemies. The outward pity is just the cherry on top while underneath is just loathing and disgust of the individual.

  7. very good blog…very important book…
    what an awful problem for kids…
    what a terrible problem we have here…
    but there might be a problem with only
    talking about anti-authority…

    many of these kids given psych drugs
    are misbehaving because they are not
    eating healthy…we must not be blind to
    other factors besides trauma and society
    and bad psychiatry…

  8. “If it has locked doors you’re an inmate, if you come and go under your own power you’re an outmate. Why is this difficult?”

    Don’t forget the shake-it-all-about-mates.

    This is a very, very slow train to liberation. Must be disheartening every time a jet flies over. None of this was or probably is a necessary distraction for the vast majority of people caught up in psychiatric dramas or even those that have found new non-psychiatric dramas to involve themselves in.

    One thing many of us here trapped under the line to endlessly react to an agenda we have no control over… is that we made a way out of psychiatric oppression, to greater or lesser degrees, pretty much entirely by our own will, with very little to no assistance from “professionals”.

    In other words, we rebelled without a guidebook.

    I wonder if I had access to Levine’s guidebook things would have turned out differently?

    Would I still be thinking my rightful place is below the line, or that the endless wait for a train that will probably never arrive is a noble pursuit in life, and that I should work on the envy I feel every time a jet flies overhead?

    Just in case I’m not ignored here — as is usually the case — please don’t embarrass yourself trying to answer these questions.

  9. I’m a quarter of the way through Resisting Illegitimate Authority now, and all I can say is, if the rest of the book is like what I’ve already read, I’d highly recommend people read it. I think it directly speaks to what a lot of us are going through, and to what we have to deal with in life. I’ve got another of Bruce’s books on my shelf, but, by way of contrast, I’d have to say this one takes the cake.

  10. Let me play Devil’s Advocate by presenting a view I don’t hold but an argument opponents MIGHT make against Noel’s article.

    Psychiatry is not linked to eugenics because it doesn’t assert the superiority of one race over the other and they seek to help not kill the disabled “mentally ill.”

    Noel, or anyone else who cares to debate this anticipatory argument please do.

    😉

    • Psychiatry and eugenics have always been intrinsically interrelated, it’s not all about race. (And don’t forget the “euthanasia” debate in the 1942 American Journal of Psychiatry, with an editorial supporting the “pro” side.) (Link available if needed.)

      • Glad you mentioned the editorial. In 1941 at the annual meeting of the APA the keynote speaker spoke in favor of killing the mentally ill. People still don’t believe this when I tell them but I’ve got a copy of the speech. The only two responses against the speaker’s address were against his proposal, not because of the idea of killing innocent people, but because the two people wondered who would do the manual labor of garbage collection etc. carried on by the “feeble minded” and the “mentally ill”?

          • Another interesting article is Psychiatric Genocide: Nazi Attempts to Eradicate Schizophrenia by E. Fuller Torrey and Robert H. Yolken. It’s from the Schizophrenia Bulletin from 2010 volume 36. It’s an interesting article despite E. Fuller having a hand in writing it.

          • I tried going to the APA archives to find the keynote address of 1941. Guess what? The keynote address for the APA’s annual meeting for 1941 is missing! When you Google it you can see the line drawn through it and the word missing. I find this interesting and certainly not working to promote the truth. I guess that the APA doesn’t want it to be bandied about that they allowed a speaker to give such an address.

          • I can’t find my copy of the keynote address. It’s missing in action. It’s probably way at the back of one of the drawers in my desk. However, I did find another interesting article. It’s an article entitled The 1942 ‘euthanasia debate in the American Journal of Psychiatry written by Jay Joseph. It can be found in History of Psychiatry 2005; 16; 171. The online version of this article can be found at: http//hpy.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/16/2/171

        • The keynote address for the APA’s annual meeting for 1941 is missing!

          We should publicize this and make an issue of it. Somehow.

          Maybe MIA could have someone do a research piece on the whole issue of the American psychiatric establishment’s historically supporting the murder of psychiatric inmates.

    • Psychiatry most certainly was linked to eugenics in the 1930’s during the rise of the Nazis in Germany. I’ve written about how they did it on numerous occasions here so won’t go into it again. They not only sterilized “mental patients” they murdered them in great numbers. Hitler and the Nazis took over the program to further the destruction of the Jewish nation, and everyone else who opposed their power. The “mentally ill” were referred to as “useless eaters” and there was an entire campaign with posters and speeches and all that to incite the common German family person and worker to rise up against the injustice of allowing these “useless eaters” to take the food out of the mouths of their more deserving children. It’s scary how quickly a society can be turned so easily to accomplish the ends of a particular group.

      • They said that the “useless eaters” should not be allowed to live and pass on their genes that would affect the dear and wonderful volk. The volk is like the spirit and body of the German nation. It’s a particularly German way of describing who they were; the best and most wonderful of all the peoples of Europe, according to them. This is where the idea of the master race came from, the perfect people. This idea goes back a long ways in German thinking and is not something that came about just because of the Nazi rise to power. Of course, the Nazis fanned this idea of the volk to the extreme and used it to incite the German people.