Are Emotional Disorders Really Disorders of Love?

Peter Breggin, MD
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We now know enough about human biological evolution to understand that our social nature is built into our instinctual biological core. We are not loosely connected separate entities; we are by our very nature shaped and motivated by mutuality, cooperativeness and love.

Unlike most creatures, we humans are born with an essentially fetal brain, which leaves us totally dependent upon others and which doubles in size during our first year of life. This enormously rapid growth in the size and complexity insures that our brain develops outside our mother’s body as a social organ, an organ whose very structure and function is formed by the nurturing influences which surround it.

We humans are literally made of each other, physically, psychologically and socially. Nurturing in the first few years of life guides the development and expression of our social nature and our power as a species to survive and to thrive; and lack of that nurturing leads to psychological and social impairments. But we are not helpless beings at the mercy of nature and nurture; we can make choices and learn to overcome whatever negative legacy emotions we bring from our biological evolution and childhood socialization.1

Love and empathy are key to our social nature. Across the psychological, spiritual and political spectrums, many thoughtful people have concluded that love and its expression as empathy are the central principles of living a good and productive life.

Historically, the importance of love and empathy had its initial and perhaps still fullest expression in the teaching of Christ: to love God, to love one another, and to follow the Golden Rule—to treat others as we would want them to treat us. The Old Testament, Buddhism and many other religious documents have also expressed variations on the Golden Rule.2

The Surprising Truth about Charles Darwin and Adam Smith

Contrary to common belief, the great evolutionary scientist Charles Darwin did not place emphasis on the survival of the fittest but instead on mutual aid and love as the key to human success as individuals and as a species. Darwin described the concept of a loving God and the Golden Rule as the highest achievement of human history, emanating in part from our embedded social instincts but ultimately requiring conscious reasoning:

To do good in return for evil, to love your enemy, is a height of morality to which it may be doubted whether the social instincts would, by themselves, have ever led us. It is necessary that these instincts, together with sympathy, should have been highly cultivated and extended by the aid of reason, instruction, and the love or fear of God, before any such golden rule would ever be thought of and obeyed.3

Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations and the great 18th century advocate of economic liberty, wanted more than a dog-eat-dog free market. In his great work on the Theory of Moral Sentiments, he saw empathy and love as social sentiments required to temper greed. He praised human “fellow-feeling” and the “principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it.” He wrote, “it is the first precept to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our strength, so it is the second to love our neighbor as we love ourselves…”4

Despite the importance which Charles Darwin and Adam Smith placed upon love and cooperation in individual and societal success, these themes receive little emphasis in most discussions of their work. Most of us have been misled by our education and by contemporary writers into believing that the Darwin and Smith advocated competition and survival of the fittest. People are surprised to learn that their respective theories of evolution and economics emphasized love, empathy and cooperation.

Love and Empathy in Psychology and Psychiatry

Emphasis on love and empathy abounds in sources seemingly divergent from the themes of Judaism and Christianity in which Darwin and Smith were immersed. One of the richest analyses of the role of love in human life is found Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving. Fromm, a psychologist and secular humanist with Marxist leanings, was seemingly as far away as one could get in his thinking from men like Charles Darwin and Adam Smith; but this was not so in respect to the centrality of love.

Fromm described love as “the answer to the problem of human existence.” He declared:

The awareness of human separation, without reunion by love—is the source of shame. It is at the same time the source of guilt and anxiety. The deepest need of man, then, is the need to overcome his separateness to leave his prison of aloneness. The absolute failure to achieve this aim means insanity…5

R. D. Laing, the most widely read critical psychiatrist in the 1960s and a continuing inspiration to psychiatric reform, placed love at the center of the therapist’s healing qualities. Laing was addressing the therapist’s role in reintegrating the “divided self,” an aspect of psychosis and so-called schizophrenia, when he wrote:

The main agent in uniting the patient, in allowing the pieces to come together and cohere, is the physician’s love, a love that recognizes the patient’s total being, and accepts it, with no strings attached.6

What if this were true?

What if the teachings of so many wise observers provide a straightforward holistic concept for personal, emotional or psychological success and failure? Could it be that human psychological and spiritual well-being lies in becoming an increasing source of love and in accepting love more deeply, while psychological and spiritual unwellness lies in varying degrees of being unable to love and to be loved?

Could the whole array of psychiatric diagnostic categories, to the extent that they have any validity at all, be expressions of the failure to love and to accept love? Could the wide range of successful psychotherapies really work by means of the therapist’s ability to encourage people to experience love through how positively he or she relates to them?

Focusing More on Love

I first began thinking about and trying to implement these concepts as a college student (1954-1958) volunteering in a state mental hospital. I explored them in two of my early books, Toxic Psychiatry: Why Therapy, Empathy and Love Must Replace the Drugs, Electroshock and Biochemical Theories of the “New Psychiatry” (1991) and Beyond Conflict: From Self-Help and Psychotherapy to Peacemaking (1992).

I now want to boil down the role of love in our lives into a simple observation: Nearly all human personal or emotional success depends upon being able to give and to accept love, and nearly all human personal failure reflects an inability to do so.

My own working definition of love is “joyful awareness”—the experience of happiness over the existence of something or someone, including whatever or whomever inspires us, from family and friends to nature and God. From experiencing romantic love to admiring heroes who lift our ideals; from enjoying the birds that flit about us in our backyard to watching children or animals play—love is an enthusiastic engagement in life. When we love people and pets, as well as God, we became able not only to give love but also to receive it.

What if we focused therapy on helping our clients and patients to give and to accept love more fully? Could we help them see the importance of love and how they can overcome their entrenched fears and doubts about giving and receiving it? Suppose we did this ourselves in our everyday lives, trying when possible to give and to receive love, along with whatever other activity we were sharing?

As family members, therapists or doctors, what if we never again promoted or prescribed drugs as a “treatment” because they ultimately impair our frontal lobes and hence our ability to love? Could we jettison all our ugly, cookie cutter, unloving diagnoses—ADHD, conduct disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and PTSD? Could we instead help others to discover where their loving engagement with life was discouraged or lost and how to revive it or even to experience it for the first time?

In my life and my clinical practice, these questions are not abstract conjectures. From my earliest days as a college volunteer in a state mental hospital to this day, I have tried to guide people toward more loving engagement with the primary people in their lives and with life itself. I have also tried to guide myself in the same way, often with faltering and even failing steps.

Here is the formulation of what has become increasingly clear to me:

Nearly all emotional disorders are disorders of love, and we heal from these disorders to the degree that we learn to give and to accept love.

This is an initial formulation of what I hope to share with you in more detail and with greater clarity in the coming months and years through my writing, courses, conferences, radio shows, videos and films.

Show 6 footnotes

  1. My most detailed discussion of the social brain and human biological and social evolution is found in Breggin, Peter. (2014). Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions. Amherst, New York.
  2. Varied religious expressions of the Golden Rule are cited in Breggin, Peter (1992). Beyond Conflict: From Self-Help and Psychotherapy to Peacemaking. New York: St. Martin’s Press, e.g., p. 20
  3. Darwin, Charles (1981) (November 1859, 1st ed.) “On the Descent of Man.” In The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. P. 32. In his seminal book, Darwin uses the word “love” 80 times and “sympathy” 52 times. He mentions “survival of the fittest” only three times, once to discuss its limitations. I derived these numbers with the aid of Barrett, Paul; Weinshank, Donald; Ruhlen, Paul; and Ozminsk, Stephen. (1987). A Concordance to Darwin’s The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
  4. Smith, Adam. The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Sixth Edition (1790). This edition was retrieved on November 25, 2018 from https://www.ibiblio.org/ml/libri/s/SmithA_MoralSentiments_p.pdf. The site allows searching for words and for counting them (using Control F). Smith uses the term fellow-feeling 39 times and the word love 224 times.
  5. Fromm, Erich. (1956). The Art of Loving. New York: Harper & Row, p. 9. Italics in original.
  6. Laing, R.D. The Divided Self. (2010) (1965). London: Penguin Classics, p. 165.

164 COMMENTS

    • i had a friend, way back when…we were young, his dad was a psychiatrist. the dad has also had electroshock, been thru a messy divorce, and basically…despite his power and affluence..dealt with “stuff.” so, lately, he’s been on my mind…not because his son was that great a friend (he wasn’t) or because I think psychiatrists are really just wounded teddy bears, underneath all the fascism (they’re not, clearly), but…

      we are all human. we share that much, don’t we? having dealt with shrinks as human beings (long, somewhat dramatic story…), I’ve personally found: I’m not impressed. Their earnings put them into the upper middle or upper class, their credentials allow them to act as high priests and priestesses of this society, but…

      as -human beings-, i’ve found they leave much to be desired. self-important, elitist, unimaginative, draconian, and…and…honestly, once one deconstructs the pseudoscience, the religion masquerading as medicine, etc…they’re just not so great. counselors, psychologists…same thing, honestly.

      I’m reminded of CS Lewis, when he writes about the various evil characters, especially the white witch…pretty, all sorts of fancy trappings, etc…but sorely lacking in originality, morality, empathy…the fundamentals of humanity, I believe.

      I think many psych people choose a wicked profession over any number of other constructive, often even more lucrative, fields not because they’re evil geniuses or “have issues” (LOL), but becaue they’re often vapid, mediocre human beings who feel “called” to work as overseers on late stage capitalism’s plantation. 🙂

        • I must agree, I found “mental health professionals” to be the least respectful, most hateful, miserable, delusional, stupid, insane, criminal, and evil people I’ve ever met – in other words, the antithesis of loving human beings.

          I do agree with Peter that love is the answer. But, the medical evidence does show that the number one actual cause of “emotional disorders” is the misuse of what should be a loving act (in other words rape or other adverse childhood experiences). And since distress caused by child abuse and rape are not billable DSM disorders, these crimes get misdiagnosed with the “invalid,” but billable, DSM disorders.

          Lets hope the hate filled, child abuse covering up “mental health professionals” some day stop being child rape covering up criminals. But the fact that the “mental health professionals” are child abuse covering up criminals does explain why they hate themselves so much, resulting in their seeming need to destroy other people lives and families with their hate and self loathing.

  1. This is a little weird. If we’re going to talk about love it shouldn’t be in the context of it being a “treatment for emotional disorder,” and it is also a bit disturbing that Dr. Breggin validates terms such as “disorder” and “psychosis,” and sees love as something to be provided by a physician. I think he may be experiencing some growing contradiction between his chosen profession of psychiatry and his growing personal realization that we are dealing with spiritual issues in many cases, not scientific ones. (I’m not clear why he has moved away from the leftist orientation he once had.)

    Nonetheless Dr. Breggin remains one of our heroes in fighting the psychiatric juggernaut. Maybe the end result of his epiphanies will be his formal rejection of psychiatry in all its forms, rather than attempting to re-define it as a source of spiritual “healing.” Love is not the domain of psychiatry, and never could be.

    • I love Dr. Breggin. Lol. And by staying in the field he has helped many he couldn’t have otherwise.

      Psychiatry’s toxic “treatments” could warrant a new branch of medicine in its own right–treating withdrawal, TBI, and a myriad of real medical disorders created by mainstream psychiatrists.

      But good point, Oldhead. Love is not a physical medicine to be used by doctors. Not that I see mainstream psychiatry adopting it any time soon. 🙂

    • I don’t think Dr B was validating the terms I think he was using the typical medical jargon and i do think love has it’s place to play …it’s semantics …and what we imagine is meant by “love” (I too am uncomfortable by the word and decided to examine my feelings around that..see below Dr Gabor Mate ref’ )………….Compassion: what it is and why it matters in medicine | World …
      https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/03/compassion/
      27 Mar 2017 – It’s compassion, or better still, compassionate doctors. … Merely taking the time to talk and listen to patients is comforting, as is a doctor’s touch. … on how to improve medical training, given the positive results of the researches; …

  2. Doctor, thank you for allowing me to respond and for your community service. You describe happiness more specifically as “love” and then describe all “emotional disorders” as “disorders” of “love”; you are pathologizing sadness. There are no emotional “disorders”; all emotions are natural and valid. Consistent with most cultural leaders, you are unable to imagine true misfortune (unfortunate life circumstances). Natural emotional suffering can be as painful as any real pathology but is not a medical problem; psychiatry is “trauma denial.”

    • I wouldn’t try to postulate what Dr. Breggin can and can’t imagine; you might be surprised. However I concur with your main points about pathologizing any emotion.

      Actually as we have recently been discussing here, “trauma-informed psychiatry” should be the next big trendy psychiatric moneymaker, so be careful what you criticize. (“This could be bigger than ‘open dialogue.'”) 🙂

      • It was wrong of me to speculate about what Dr. Breggin can imagine. I was projecting from my own experience; I had no idea how painful emotional suffering could be until I experienced trauma. I thought trauma was just about a distressful experience; thereafter I realized that trauma is about a distressful environment.

        • Then again it could mean any number of things, we probably shouldn’t give them another concept to reify and appropriate. It does seem that this “trauma-informed” thing is becoming the latest product, or a meaningless product label like “all-natural” or “cage free.”

          • I contend that psychiatry has reified sadness (emotional suffering) into a disease- that psychiatry is “trauma denial.” I assume that the “trauma-informed thing” will become increasingly popular because it is closer to the truth and pushed by most Critical Psychiatrists. I seek to understand why “trauma-informed care” does not equate to the abolition of psychiatry (“trauma denial”). I believe that emotional suffering will be understood as natural after exposing the myth of “mental illness” as the philosophical equivalent of the theological myth of “demonic possession.”

          • How many people define psychiatry as “trauma denial”? I think most psychiatrists are going to disagree with that definition, and when it comes to the “trauma informed” tag, I imagine that there are psychiatrists who would call their form of “care” “trauma informed”.

            If you can’t sell treatment for sadness as treatment for “disease”, maybe you can do so as treatment for “trauma”.

    • Steve, Dr. Breggin has said abusive families and trauma cause the “break” which causes people to be psychiatrized. He does not demean us. Quite the contrary.

      And I don’t think “trauma informed” will ever be as lucrative as the “bio model” Oldhead. How can you put compassion in capsule form and sell it for $100 a pop?

      • I experienced a reversal of fortune from experiences of extreme emotional well-being during my childhood to extreme emotional suffering following trauma during early adulthood. Since I have experienced the two extremes of emotions, I have experienced two different worlds. I did not know that I lived in a privileged world of emotional well-being because I worked so hard for my “successes” and advocated for the marginalized. I believed that I had empathy for the marginalized until I became marginalized. Thereafter, I realized that natural sadness (anxiety and depression) can be far more constant and painful than I could had imagined (and can promote suicide ideation from hopelessness about alleviating the pain). Emotional suffering can be far more painful than most people realize because most people cannot imagine emotional suffering greater than they have experienced (or distressful experiences more distressful than they experience).

    • All emotions all natural and valid, but I feel there can be disorders especially if we get stuck in a particular emotional state that robs us of our ability to process and find joy in life. In our western culture we are not taught how to allow our emotions (in fact we are encouraged to suppress them) to move through us and trauma becomes “stuck” in our bodies, there are many ways we can relearn how to What is TRE (Trauma Release Exercises)? | ACEsConnection
      https://www.acesconnection.com/blog/what-is-trauma-release-exercises-tre
      30 Oct 2017 – That’s why humans have trauma and wild animals usually don’t: old … I accessed this discharge shaking doing Levine’s CD exercises (the book …

      • But why call it a “disorder?” Why not call it “stuckness” or “lack of self love” or “unwillingness to risk connection” or call it what it IS rather than pathologizing it? I’d say “stuckness” is pretty much a universal attribute of anyone growing up in Western social/economic networks. It’s not a “disorder,” I regard it as a way of coping with a difficult reality. If we can find yet better ways to effect change in that reality rather than merely coping, more power to us, but it doesn’t mean that our means of coping were “disordered.”

    • Steve

      You’ve made many good points in response to this blog. I ,also, appreciate Peter Breggin’s many contributions to the struggle against psychiatric oppression.

      And I would add this comment about Breggin’s positive mention of the Old Testament of the Bible and its so-called expressions of “love”:

      While the Old Testament may make a few minor references about “love,” it is overwhelming filled with (and advocating for) some of the worst forms of oppression and treatment of human beings by other human beings. And the Almighty God running the whole show in the Old Testament, perpetrates (and advocates for) some of the very worst crimes of humanity.

      Richard

  3. i appreciate dr.breggin’s work. having said that…

    when psych ‘pofessionals’ aren’t pushing pills, shock, the occasional operation…

    they’re telling the ‘patients,’ people in general, society as a whole…what to think, what to believe, how to (work, live, parent, organize a messy closet). “The Medicalization of Deviance” gave way to Szasz’s The Medicalization of Everyday Life, which now seems to have led us to…

    The Medicalization of Morality, Thought, and Speech. Now -that- my friends is control. 🙂

  4. Dr. Breggin is certainly one of the great heroes in the ongoing battle against psychiatry. His work is indispensable. “Toxic Psychiatry” is a masterpiece that belongs in the antipsychiatry canon. “Medication Madness” and “Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal” are also great. Moreover, Dr. Breggin’s numerous articles are, for the most part, right on the money.

    This particular article makes a few good points, and the intention behind it is good. However, as Oldhead pointed out, there are some pretty serious problems with it as well, problems that cannot be overlooked. While it is true that we might want to read Darwin and Adam Smith more closely, we also might want to read the Bible and everything else a little more carefully.

    If we set aside the Biblical, literary, and scientific references for a moment, perhaps we can begin to think clearly about the topic at hand. The title of this article alone is more than a little bit problematic. I’m not sure if Dr. Breggin really believes that there is such a thing as an “emotional disorder,” but if he does, that is the first problem to address. Before we can ask the question “Are all emotional disorders really disorders of love?” we first need to ask: “What is an emotional disorder?” or “Is there any such thing as an emotional disorder?” After that, we need to ask another important question: “What is love?”

    This is not just an exercise in philosophy or a semantic struggle. As soon as we assume that there is any such thing as an emotional disorder, we also need to assume that there is such a thing as emotional order, and a standard by which that emotional order is measured. This, in turn, requires that we define what emotions are. Thomas Szasz put the matter succinctly: “In the animal kingdom, the rule is, eat or be eaten; in the human kingdom, define or be defined.” Unfortunately, and as Breggin often acknowledges in his books, the sufferers are very rarely the same people who provide the definitions. Many of the definitions that we have inherited have been handed down to us by those whose job it was to inflict suffering in the name of “medicine.”

    Furthermore, much of the suffering that has been caused by psychiatry – and by those who wield the power of pseudo-medical terminology – has been caused in the name of “love.” I will probably never tire of quoting C.S. Lewis on this point because the truth never gets old:

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

    From this frame of reference, the greater the “love,” the greater the tyranny. Sometimes the most truly charitable thing to do is to know how to mind one’s own business. From the perspective of the Judeo-Christian tradition, the first commandment is to love God, or to have no other gods before God. Many people understand the truth that God is love, but it takes a bit more discernment to understand the problems inherent in the perversion of this truth. C.S. Lewis put it this way:

    “St. John’s saying that God is love has long been balanced in my mind against the remark of a modern author (M. Denis de Rougemont) that ‘love ceases to be a demon only when he ceases to be a god’; which of course can be re-stated in the form ‘begins to be a demon the moment he begins to be a god’. This balance seems to me an indispensable safeguard. If we ignore it the truth that God is love may slyly come to mean for us the converse, that love is God.”

    This is precisely the most insidious danger of psychiatry. Psychiatry is a pseudo-scientific system of slavery that masquerades as a medical profession based on “love,” or “compassion.” Probably without meaning to do so, Dr. Breggin has introduced a formula for the kind of tyranny that C.S. Lewis descried. Psychiatry thrives on inventing or introducing non-existent diseases or disorders. It grows in strength by setting for solutions to the very problems that it creates. In an ever growing cycle, psychiatry creates the problems that it claims to resolve, and the problems are exacerbated by the solutions that are set forth.

    In brief, there is no such thing as an emotional disorder. The attempt to heal non-existent disorders often creates the very problems that psychiatry claims to remedy. Certainly people suffer, and pain is an unavoidable physical reality. But the pain caused by psychiatry is pain that can be avoided. If we truly desire to relieve the suffering of others, a step in the right direction would be to work toward removing the cause of that pain. A step in the right direction is a step toward the abolition of psychiatry.

  5. I’ve re read this post and I fid it deeply offensive.

    This sad old world, and humanity especially, could use much more genuine human love. But to suggest that those who are most on the receiving end of the opposite are the most deficient, and by implication, to blame for being so treated so derisively, is not just unfair, but seems to fly in the face of love itself.

      • Here’s an analogy. I was being verbally and psychologically abused by my ex-husband. I was also gaslighted by court order to mental health. What loving husband would mistreat his wife and then try to cover it up this way never admitting his wrongdoing? I’ve since divorced, however I am still “blamed” and harassed by unloving and unforgiving people who can’t seem to accept the divorce, allow me to heal and build a life. I suppose this would fit in the “seems to fly in the face of love itself”. I am a loving person, but this response to someone who has already suffered is what is shameful.

        • To extend this argument further, those in poverty, those living in the developing world, those disadvantaged or oppressed by hatred or discrimination of any kind, these people are failing to give and receive love, whereas the wealthy, the powerful, the capitalist ‘first’ world, by definition, are reaping the benefits of their lovingkindness.

          Donald Trump is a triumph of love.

          • In this comment it is the quote about success. Sorry can’t and paste atm or even return to the text without losing this comment.

            I admit I overlooked the. word ‘most’ which shows that I may be over reacting, but still, I feel even the less extreme sentiment is equating ‘winning’ with morality according to a kind of ‘just world’ fallacy.

          • I see the shadow of the ‘just world’ crap in it, too, oldhead. It’s in the sentence that ties personal success with the ability to give and receive love. While I didn’t read the condemnation of those who have been unloved, I also really had to call Bullshit on the notion that ‘successful’ people got that way by having a greater capacity to give/receive love than those of us whom life continually shits on.

            In fact, I see way too many instances of really hateful, bigoted, greedy, selfish individuals coming out on top for me to consider this as a truth, or a pearl of wisdom. No, they ‘earn’ their success by cheating, writing the rules so the underdog can never win, granting each other pardons and golden parachutes, etc.

            And I’ve seen some of the most loving, giving, generous people get used up, taken for granted, their love abused or even used against them.

            It simply doesn’t square.

          • @LS — I think I’ve been pretty critical of the whole concept of “love” being the domain of psychiatry, as opposed to that of spirituality; it’s just some of the hostility being expressed towards a longtime movement hero that I take exception to, and which may come at least partly from people’s own projections based on the way they understand certain terms. For example, I don’t equate success with wealth, but this is apparently not the way many people think.

            In general though, I still think this is a little weird, as I said from the start. Psychiatry and spirituality are like oil and water, or maybe fire and water. Ne’er the twain shall meet.

        • I see your point, Truthisbest. Psychiatry doesn’t CLAIM to be punitive–though they have a lot of clout in the legal system legitimate doctors don’t. Nevertheless the way they operate is understood–if not admitted–to be a form of punishment. For drinking too much, irresponsible behavior, bugging people by threatening suicide, or dressing oddly so you embarrass relatives.

          After they “help” you, you are treated worse than a registered felon in many ways. Even if you have broken no laws. So psychiatric “treatment” should be regarded as a form of punishment–not medicine. When they have broken/brainwashed people (or been fooled themselves) they declare the broken one “in recovery.” Though now their patient/victim must recover from the “treatment.”

          Psychiatry is not about punishing evil doers but the weak and suffering. Those they judge “unfit.” If a well-dressed, confident, strong (but abusive) person drags in a victimized spouse or child dressing and acting oddly because of the nightmare they live in, guess who the mainstream shrink automatically sides with? The strong and confident person. Social Darwinism at its finest!

          Most shrinks don’t do this because they are evil. They just lack insight. Oh the irony!

          • So psychiatric “treatment” should be regarded as a form of punishment–not medicine.

            Glad you’re making this vital connection — unless people understand that psychiatry is intended as an adjunct to the prison/”law enforcement” apparatus we will continue to miss the mark, and treat the situation as one of “bad medicine”; the solution for bad medicine is better medicine, but the solution to psychiatry is exposing it as fraudulent and taking away its power.

          • Kids know this instinctively. If you can get them to stop parroting the lines they’ve been given, most kids on psych drugs will tell you they take them “because I act bad” or “because I get in trouble.” That’s my experience, anyway, and I have talked to lots of kids about this issue.

    • Actually Peter Breggin means those in distress aren’t receiving enough love. He’s NOT accusing us of being incapable of love. (Like mainstream shrinks often do.)

      And folks certainly aren’t loving in their behaviors now. Especially toward those labelled “SMI.”

      • I don’t know that he is saying that, Rachel.

        I appreciate that Peter Breggin has been a staunch ally to us in his work, but I’m responding to the content of this article.

        His focus is on those who are labelled and his conclusion is that our struggles are caused by our ‘inability to give or receive love’. I think he is being clear in this. It is not about finding ourselves without love, this writing is categorical that the problem lies in our inability to give or receive it.

        • Perhaps you are both correct, Dr B I feel is saying that due to horrible life expereinces / truama / societies value system etc the sensitive peeps …us …… have unintentionally become guarded as a means of protection – once bitten etc …so we have forgotten how to give and receive love in the first instance towards ourselves (if you believe you have no problem in this area go to the mirror and look yourself in the eye and tell yourself how much you love yourself…not in an egoistic way but in the way you would yourself as a baby or someone you love and see what comes up emotionally .)…And that our society does seem to reward the selfish, the greedy, but it all depends on what one considers success – I bet no one reading this wants to be Mr Trump….and after listening to Dr Gabor Mate and Russel Brand’ s interview on Mr Trump – I think what a unloving upbringing he had. Is Trump Acting Out His Childhood Trauma? Russell Brand & Dr …
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQwP0XRBjq4
          Video for Dr Gabor Mate Russell brand Donald Trump▶ 9:37
          13 Nov 2018 – Uploaded by Russell Brand
          Today’s video features Dr. Gabor Maté a renowned expert in addiction … Under The Skin episode here: https …

      • I would suggest that lack of love by those who have power over us is what he’s really talking about. When we are kids, we have little power to do or change anything in our world, and we’re totally dependent on those who care for us. How those people care for us teaches us a lot about what to expect of the world and how to treat ourselves.

        In adult life, a lot more goes into success than giving and receiving love, as others have remarked. And adults don’t HAVE to rely on their parents for care any more. But there are still plenty of areas where “big people” have power and control and don’t use it in a very loving fashion. It is also difficult to escape those lessons we learned as kids when dealing with people we consider more powerful than us.

    • Hi Out, I don’t think Dr B meant to infer we are deficient in love ( I don’t think this was an all or nothing statement ie we could not give or receive love full stop), I can see how his words could be interpreted that way but I have re read the article a few times..I am dyslexic.. I realised he is also writing for therapists and clinicians, he notes the success of clinicians lies in helping peeps to learn to give a receive love (ie provide us with tools help us see where our past experiences have caused us to put up protective barriers ) I know I struggled with trying to muster up the feeling of love for others the world etc (especially when feeling depressed) I found this bit of advice from a girl at my mindfulness group very good – she had been at Thich Nhat Hahn’s – Plum Village – on retreat and could not find it in herself to do the Meta loving kindness mediation for others the the world..then eventually someone you dislike etc. She discussed this with one of the Buddhist Nuns there ( who are also qualified psychologists) the nun told her when she went home to do the meta mediation everyday just sending love to herself for a year before she even tried to send love to others. I believe that where some of us are finding difficulty with this article is because of the wording and that in our wounded raw state we need to first learn to love ourselves. So in the wider sense it is about relearning how to give and receive love but most especially to ourselves…you can not give what you do not have. Hope this helps .

  6. Profession is profession, because of lack of emotions. Psychiatry is what it is, because of lack of empathy. Science, medicine with pretensions to science can not be an answer for psychological phenomena. Like I said before, apollonian ego has got no empathy and insight, apollonian ego has got only empty judgements. Apollonian ego has got no love, only cruel cold economic estimates. Empathy is not love or pity. Empathy means to understand and respect psyche, which is far beyond apollonian ego simple assumptions. To understand sth you must have phenomenological insight, not love.

    James Hillman “Re – Visioning psychology”.

  7. Dr. Breggin, I would like to say that, in reading the comments that precede this one, it seems to me that almost all of them reflect a lack of understanding of what you wrote. That may be understandable, but I think it’s still sad and a little alarming that the readers of a website that often talks about how adversity and trauma are the possible sources of so-called psychotic experience are unable to grasp that what that means is that a lack of love, protection, and companionship at an early age is almost sure to change us, not for the better or worse really, but simply in how we relate to the world and treat the others who are in it.

    I think you pretty much nailed the problem right on the head. I was particularly glad to see you contrast love with the survival of the fittest. It’s a sadly neglected understanding of how evolution works that there is not only competition between members of the same species but a great deal of cooperation that needs to take place between the various members of a society. Together we can do far more than we could ever do alone. That’s important.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m sure there are many people who would agree with you.

    • I don’t think “evolution” has much science behind it, at least in terms of specifics. Why aren’t frogs still evolving into land animals, with examples of half-evolved animals proliferating? I see evolution more as a process of trial and error. Anyway, Breggin should perhaps consider becoming a shaman or preacher of some sort rather than trying to consolidate love, spirituality and psychiatry.

      Still, I’m also a little taken aback by some of the hostility being expressed, which I think is excessive considering Dr. Breggin’s many contributions to the anti-psychiatry cause.

        • I’m not a “creationist” whatever that means. But for Darwin to be consistent every species would eventually evolve into humans, right? Where are all the half-frog/half-toads? (You think YOU’RE surprised, good thing Richard L doesn’t seem to be around.) But inquiring minds want to know.

          • Nah, that’s not right. Species develop into whatever fits into the niche provided for food, shelter, etc. Obviously fish can’t develop into humans because they have to live underwater to breathe. Humans are just one branch of many thousands of developing branches.

            Darwin certainly hasn’t explained everything, any more than the “big bang theory” explains how the universe began. (What was it that banged? WHERE did it bang? WHY did it bang? What happened right before it banged?) I just wanted to make sure we’re clear that he would never say that all species ultimately have to evolve into humans. If they did, we’d have nothing for food but cannibalism!

          • I don’t think the end of evolution, for Darwin, was humanity, by any means. Darwin was a scientist, not a humanist.

            I think the evidence for evolution is abundant. We refer to it when we speak of fossil evidence, or the fossil record. We know now, for instance, that some of those big bones that turned to stone belonged to gigantic reptiles rather than to human giants or to dragons, both creations of mythology.

            Meglodon teeth were thought to be petrified dragon tongues until Danish naturalist Nicolas Steno recognized them as sharks teeth sometime in the 17th century. Guess what? Nicolas Steno was right. They weren’t, and they aren’t, petrified dragon tongues.

          • All is see are modifications within categories of species (the term is evading me) which represent adaptations to a changing physical environment; not reptiles morphing into mammals, for example. But to continue this topic much longer risks diverting the comments (though I guess Breggin bringing up Darwin does open the door somewhat).

          • I read, because of interbreeding, most Europeans are about 2 % neanderthal. Neanderthal was another species of human. Neanderthal had been around longer than modern man has been in existence but neanderthal went extinct. Hopefully the same fate doesn’t await us, at least, not before perhaps a further evolutionary leap has been achieved, and our species has a successor. A successor beyond the rats and cockroaches anyway.

          • birds evolved from dinosaurs. Dinos went extinct, but birds are still with us.

            Dinosaurs were reptiles, so I consider the morphing into birds thing hypothetical, not established fact. They were killed off in a relatively short span of time, so probably didn’t evolve into anything; they were either a failed experiment (too big) or unable to resist climate change brought on by Earth colliding with an asteroid or meteor. I wasn’t there of course so I’m not sure, and anthropology isn’t my field.

          • Ahem. Anthropology is not the field you should be looking into, paleontology being that field. Paleontology, and….zoology.

            Reverse genetic engineering and the fossil record both demonstrate that birds are modern feathered dinosaurs, having evolved from earlier feathered dinosaurs within the theropod group, which are traditionally placed within the saurischian dinosaurs. The closest living relatives of birds are the crocodilians. Primitive bird-like dinosaurs that lie outside class Aves proper, in the broader group Avialae, have been found dating back to the mid-Jurassic period, around 170 million years ago. Many of these early “stem-birds”, such as Archaeopteryx, were not yet capable of fully powered flight, and many retained primitive characteristics like toothy jaws in place of beaks, and long bony tails. DNA-based evidence finds that birds diversified dramatically around the time of the Cretaceous–Palaeogene extinction event 66 million years ago, which killed off the pterosaurs and all the non-avian dinosaur lineages. But birds, especially those in the southern continents, survived this event and then migrated to other parts of the world while diversifying during periods of global cooling. This [bird diversification] makes them the sole surviving dinosaurs according to cladistics.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird

            Emphasis added.

          • We don’t know. Every generation of frogs will be slightly different than the last. If there isn’t any great change in the environment they have to live in, they’ll probably just become better frogs. But if there is a sudden big shift, a lot of the froggies may die off, leaving an odd lot who may have some characteristics that “normal” frogs lack.

            The antibiotic example is the easiest to get. We kill off 98% of the bacteria in a person’s body with an antibiotic. Of the 2% that remain, a lot of them may have a particular genetic mutation that allows them to sometimes live through an antibiotic attack. Normally, they’d only be 2% of the population, but now they’ve suddenly become most of the population. These are the only bacteria to reproduce themselves, so that the next generation is made ONLY of survivors. If these survivors are attacked by the same antibiotics, a much larger percentage survive this time, say 20%. These are even MORE strongly selected for the resistance gene, and they’re the only ones again to reproduce. After a few rounds of this, we find that 80% of the bacteria are no longer killed by the antibiotics! New species. Can’t kill them with these antibiotics any longer, and we need to develop a new approach. Keep this up with a course of 3 or 4 different antibiotics over time, and you have “superbugs.”

            It’s way quicker with bacteria because they reproduce multiple times a day. But there are classic observations with moths in England turning from black-brown to grey because of ash being deposited on trees due to coal burning in the early 20th Century. The color change took a few years to happen, but it was observable pretty easily. The light ones used to get eaten, but when the trees got ashy, suddenly the black ones got eaten and the light ones survived. That’s natural selection. Continued through hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of years, if two parts of a species are living in different environments, it can lead to new species entirely.

            That’s the theory, anyway. Makes sense to me, and it fits with all the data we know about species. There may be some things not explained by evolution, but it explains a hell of a lot.

          • I think it had more to do with possibility 2 [climate change + catastrophic interstellar collision] than possibility 1 [a failed experiment (too big)]. Dinosaurs were the most successful creatures on earth at the time of their extinction, and, thus, as far as experiments go, they wouldn’t qualify as failures. Dinosaurs roamed the earth for more than 150 million years, and, btw, its only been 65 million since they’re departure. Oh, all except birds, of course.

            The origin of frogs, on the other hand, predates that of both dinosaurs and birds, going back to before an even earlier extinction, that of the Permian age, nearly 300 million years ago. What can I say? That’s success for you, baby!

          • Wikipedia again, Frank. The same one that talks about the “evolution” of the mental patients liberation movement into the consumers movement. So we may never know for sure, at least not for a long time. I accept evolution as a general concept but not in the specific ways claimed. Birds and dinosaurs could have similar features without one coming from the other. As for frogs and bacteria I don’t see them jumping categories (no pun intended), the adaptations don’t lead from one life form to another. But if you hear of any half frog/half toads in the process of transformation let me know.

            Just injecting some “reasonable doubt,” not swearing by anything here. As for humans, Dan Bern has a song about space aliens fucking monkeys being the origin. The possibilities are endless.

          • Yes, OldHead. Britannica has it’s points, but it is not everything, and there is a place for the voice of the people, too. There is a place even for those people who are not the “established authorities”.

            Well, should the “mental patients’ liberation movement” ever wish to evolve from the “consumer movement” back into itself, Wikipedia is not going to prevent it from doing so, and Wikipedia could even be of assistance if anyone chose to use it in that capacity.

            Birds are dinosaurs. Avians evolved from theropods. Without theropods, no avian acrobatics. It is not like dinosaurs have left us. Birds, if they are not dinosaurs, are literally the direct descendants of dinosaurs. Homo sapiens can’t make the same claim.

            Healthy skepticism is one thing, but there is a point where “doubt” becomes “unreasonable”. The evidence of your senses is there for you to behold. I will leave it at that.

          • Proof please, not speculation, no matter how “educated.” Why would they want to crawl out of the water that bad? If it were a sudden environmental change Darwinian evolution would be a little too slow to solve the problem. And again, why aren’t fish in a constant process of evolving?

          • Proof? A fish with lungs isn’t proof?

            Fish are evidence. Fossils are evidence. Legs are evidence. The vanishing vestigial tail of the fetus is evidence.

            Why? What did they say about Everest? Oh, yeah. Because it’s there.

            Why aren’t fish in a constant process of evolving? Well, in relation to other species, some that made their way to land, some that started on land, and returned to the water, fish are kind of slow.

        • I don’t know, OldHead. It’s a big leap from a frog to a human, but I myself am kind of glad it has been made. Sure, evolution takes a long time, but just think where we might be without it. Excuse me, you wouldn’t be able do that without a brain, would you? Sorry.

          “Ancestral characters are often, but not always, preserved in an organism’s development. For example, both chick and human embryos go through a stage where they have slits and arches in their necks like the gill slits and gill arches of fish. These structures are not gills and do not develop into gills in chicks and humans, but the fact that they are so similar to gill structures in fish at this point in development supports the idea that chicks and humans share a common ancestor with fish. Thus, developmental characters, along with other lines of evidence, can be used for constructing phylogenies.”

          https://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evodevo_02

    • Natural science theory 101: species evolve based on “the survival of the fittest.” However, Darwin (The Descent of Man) and many other “evolutionists” consider cooperation to be a better survival “tool” than competition; the “biggest, baddest ass” is no longer the “fittest.”

    • Some statistics from this article:

      Sexual and romantic relationships between nubile people collapse. From 1991 to 2017, the number of high school students who had sex decreased from 54% to 40% (-26%). At the age of 20, the percentage of abstinent people has more than doubled, from 6% to 15%. From 1999 to 2014, the average number of intercourse per adult per year decreased from 62 to 54 (-13%). About 60% of adults under 35 live without a spouse or partner.

      These figures come from the United States, but the trend is the same in other countries of the world. From 2001 to 2012, in Great Britain, the number of sexual relations per adult per year decreased from 72 to 60 (-17%) in the age group of 16 to 44 years. In Australia, the same rate went from 94 to 73 (-22%). In 2005, one third of Japanese people under 18 to 34 years old and living alone were virgins. In 2017, the rate had further increased to 43%.

      In 1995, a large US longitudinal study showed that 66% of young men and 74% of 17-year-old women had experienced a “special romantic relationship” in the last 18 months. In 2014 when the Pew Research Center asked 17-year-olds if they “ever dated, hooked up with or otherwise had a romantic relationship with another person” —seemingly a broader category than the earlier one— only 46 percent said yes (-34%).

  8. “My own working definition of love is “joyful awareness”—the experience of happiness over the existence of something or someone, including whatever or whomever inspires us, from family and friends to nature and God.”

    I love working with joyful awareness, that’s my healing path. To be awake is to know love because when we are awake, we know that we are more than just our physical selves. We are ever-expansive.

    Although being awake and experssing love in a fear-based and hate-filled society is the epitome of courage. And it takes courage to create change.

    Thanks for the love, courage, and inspiration.

  9. “I now want to boil down the role of love in our lives into a simple observation: Nearly all human personal or emotional success depends upon being able to give and to accept love, and nearly all human personal failure reflects an inability to do so.”

    Great statement, Dr. Breggin! Thanks.

    In my opinion, we are all one and connected to all existence. You could call this God, but for me, this complicates things unnecessarily.

    All existence is light, and everything else is illusion. The sooner one can grasp this fact, the earlier one moves into love and happiness.

    • Unfortunately, in the naïve form as written, it’s not true.
      The ‘achievements’ of the Nazi holocaust were not the result of love.

      Even worthwhile achievements can result from, or be side effects of ambition, revenge, hatred, the need to be better than others, greed, conformity, capitalism, pride……

      One simple answer to everything is always tempting. We all crave certainty and clarity, the one true path.

      There is truth in what Breggin is saying, but this rendition of it is not true, imho.

  10. Thank you Dr. Breggin, for these life-saving words. This blog (for me) caps off what I’ve learned from you about the ill effects of SSRIs. You’ve explained to me the whys as to how I had been treated by the ones I trusted the most, when I needed them the most, and that the results of that treatment is not only something that I’ve had to overcome in order to survive myself, but you gave me a way to understand it. Your words above supply the tools that pave a way to a new and better and more loving future. All one has to do is use them.

  11. The culture has wreaked havoc on many and then redefines love so as not to have to take responsibility. Dr. Breggin seems to have adopted this new philosophy somewhat. If you don’t accept this new definition, you are bullied. THIS IS NOT LOVE. I will love each one of you by giving you permission to love whom you choose, separate from toxic people, and be mindful to be kind and humane to everyone. If this keeps me from having a better and more loving future then psychotic narcissism is another topic to be discussed.

  12. For my part, my problems really did start in my teens–maybe before–when some family friends betrayed my dad, causing him to lose his job and our whole family to become homeless.

    About 14 or 15 I was so upset with multiple moves and betrayals of adult friends that I made a semi-conscious decision to keep to myself and avoid emotional closeness. I remember things went downhill from there.

    For those who feel Dr. Breggin was wrong about your case, maybe he is. You’re the best judge of how things are in your interpersonal relationships. But in my case his essay hit the mark. I’m striving to love boldly now.

  13. Excellent article as always from Dr. Breggin. Ditto the ensuing discussion. My own thought with regard to “healing’ from one emotional or psychological problem (However otherwise colonized linguistically by psychiatry, et.al) is that if or when one “heals (perhaps especially when said problem is trauma based), does one return to ones pre dis-at-ease psyche-self or life, or, for that matter, their relationships, etc., as they would have been sans problem’? If not, what has changed, what is brought back, what was lost, maybe gained, and maybe…even extrinsically essential? To truly heal seems to me, however profoundly personal, something radical, something radically essential.

  14. I am on a long (11 plus years) and difficult journey, with many dark nights, but I have learned a lot, especially about paradoxes (everyones point of view here are relevant and equal each person’s current truth and are not to be denied) and paradigm shifts. Many of you going through your psych’ “journeys” are, as I am, allowing ourselves to evolve towards greater self mastery / and calling back our power (in the shamanic sense) of the lost parts of your souls but most importantly to afford us a greater understanding of ourselves and understanding of what each of us loves, to learn to go within and to encourage us to love ourselves (before we try to love others – “Love yourself. Then forget it.
    Then, love the world.”
    ― Mary Oliver, Evidence: Poems) exactly as we are, wounded, vulnerable, etc. We are also finding our way back to the wonder and mystery of life / nature. Our world is going through a great shift which all of the indigenous peoples predicted would occur, we are learning to let go of what does not serve us individually(and as a species) as part of that process. We are learning to step into our power and tap into our creativity…see below for some further explanations and information. Science and non duality is a good site, I know it is difficult to shift from the linear left brain idea of right and wrong and good and bad and to an extent whilst here on the earth we need to be part of the revolution and push for change but if any of us get caught in the anger and hatred then we only end up suffering more…so get that shit out …dance ..shake..scream…paint ..whatever…….move the stuck energy out of ya…
    “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
    and rightdoing there is a field.
    I’ll meet you there.
    When the soul lies down in that grass
    the world is too full to talk about.”
    Rumi

    That is why the language of the heart is so important.

    Gregg Braden shared his stories of traveling to Tibet and living there for almost a month and visiting over 12 monasteries and nunneries. He was in a conversation with an Abbot of one of the monasteries. He asked the Abbot a question and waited for his response — what is the stuff that holds everything together the force that holds everything together—The response was “compassion”. Gregg was so surprised that he thought it was a mistranslation, so he asked him again, the answer, again compassion.
    The abbot said compassion is the experiences in our bodies and it is the force that holds everything in the universe together.
    Gregg thought it was beautiful that this man sitting 17,000 above sea level, in a cold wet monastery, sitting on a stone slab could have such an answer. Gregg was enlightened to understand what key these people have been able to hold onto for thousands of years.
    COMPASSION Compassionate Inquiry with Gabor Maté – YouTube
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6_Gqkg-JnU
    Video for gabor mate compassionate inquiry▶ 7:00
    23 May 2017 – Uploaded by Leading Edge Seminars
    Register for Compassionate Inquiry with Gabor Maté in Edmonton, Toronto, or Vancouver: …
    Rupert Sheldrake – The Science Delusion BANNED TED TALK …
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKHUaNAxsTg
    Video for rupert sheldrake morphic field field ted▶ 18:20
    15 Mar 2013 – Uploaded by revolutionloveevolve
    Re-uploaded as TED have decided to censor Rupert and remove this video from the TEDx youtube channel …
    Is the Soul Obsolete? | Scientific and Medical Network
    https://explore.scimednet.org/…/is-the-soul-obsolete-video-presentation-by-larry-dossey/
    Video for larry dossey one mind▶ 37:02
    27 Apr 2018 – Uploaded by scienceandnonduality
    Dr. Larry Dossey is an internal medicine physician, former Chief of … His most recent book is ONE MIND: How …
    Dying to be me! Anita Moorjani at TEDxBayArea – YouTube
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhcJNJbRJ6U&vl=en
    Video for anita moorjani ted talk▶ 18:06
    30 Nov 2013 – Uploaded by TEDx Talks
    Doctors had given Anita Moorjani just hours to live when she arrived at the hospital in a coma on the morning …
    “You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.”
    ― Mary Oliver, Wild Geese “Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”
    ― Mary Oliver “Hello, sun in my face. Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields…Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.”
    ― Mary Oliver “Tell me,
    what is it you plan to do
    with your one
    wild and precious life?”
    ― Mary Oliver “I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.”
    ― Mary Oliver The Shamanic View Of The World by Christa MacKinnon – HealYourLife
    https://www.healyourlife.com/the-shamanic-view-of-the-world
    24 May 2016 – The traditional shamanic world-view, which is shared by … from different planes of consciousness, shamans perceive the universe in the form of …
    I hope this information helps and provides food for thought……….Namaste…which means the god in me recognises the god in you ………interchange god with whatever word suits you 🙂

  15. Peter Breggin wrote: “As family members, therapists or doctors, what if we never again promoted or prescribed drugs as a “treatment” because they ultimately impair our frontal lobes and hence our ability to love?”

    Aye, just stick to those friends of the frontal lobes, alcohol, nicotine, sugar, aspartame, and cocaine.

    I suppose looking back to history, we will find more Love, prior to impairing our frontal lobes with psychiatric drugs?

    Okay. Let’s peer back through time and find the Great Age of Pre-Psychiatric Love. Keep going, keep going… and, keep going. O dear, we appear to have fallen over the edge of human time, to a time without humans.

    Okay, bring it back a bit. Hit the brakes! We’ve hit another cliff-edge, and gone to the time when no humans remain.

    One thing that struck me though was that beauty, that natural strangely harmonic beauty, when the humans aren’t turning the whole world gradually into some kind of plastic legoland of Love… serene… but also… lacking in something.

    Anyway best of wishes to all the lovers of the frontal lobes. Just one word of caution. Don’t get too attached to them. When it comes to the crunch, not even a perfectly functioning unabused pair of frontal lobes will prove much use to ya…

    Love to all xxx

  16. It’s been interesting to read everyone’s thoughts. I found Fromm’s work around college and grad school and was intrigued. I tried to use it for Agra’s school course and received an failing grade and just ended up rewriting what the prof wanted or needed to hear.
    In sacred literature and philosophy there are shades and shades of definitions of the word live. Agape, caritas, Eros and others.
    Companssion and having the ability to truly connect with anotber’s suffering is an absolute requirement for shamans or any in the helper role.
    This is so sadly sadly lacking in our word today and in the MH system or any so called service profession.
    I can consider writings such as Fromm or sacred literature or any other thinking work or artistic creation as touchpoints or touchstones.
    Every culture has them and they can be at times traced to the extreme past which is so interesting.
    Doesn’t mean we agree or disagree they actually are ah! A Good Trigger or set of Triggers!
    Talk about missing the boat or mark! The blatant focus on me, myself, and I, the igornace of human history, and “ Wallstreet” the movie prime directive of “ greed is good” have been swallowed hook, line, and sinker, by many.
    The old primary source writings sometimes reveal a different wisdom more embracing of kindreneess of all and insight to suffering to occurs in all its many many forms as a key to connection rather than hate.
    Psychiatry as in other institutions not only needs to acknowledge the awfulness of treatment, make appropriate and sincere apologies, and then appropriate and real ongoing amends.

    • Well Oldhead amends can mean many things on a spectrum or actually going off the spectrum to start a new paradigm.
      Suffering and trauma and altered realities whether by a spiritual or another means all will still be here even if and when psychiatry is changed, destroyed, altered, or ended.
      Healing of human souls is paramount.
      How we go about that in global, national, regional, or local areas depends on what voices are the loudest.
      History is written by the victors so how to achieve that?
      According to recent books and articles I have read- manuscripts and letters were destroyed by wars and aggressive relegious frictions of all sorts. There has been much that was lost or suppressed.
      One needs not only to have a game book but a game plan as well. Unless one has those essential tool along with funding and some ability to wield power nothing will happen. We can talk or write but that doesn’t change things.
      I still posit there are people in the system who could help.

      • Suffering and trauma and altered realities whether by a spiritual or another means all will still be here even if and when psychiatry is changed, destroyed, altered, or ended.

        I don’t see how this is relevant. The existence of suffering and the existence of psychiatry are two different and unrelated things. No one said psychiatry is responsible for all suffering (although it adds more).

        I still posit there are people in the system who could help.

        Well, let’s get them out of the system then so they can start.

      • Emotional suffering is natural but psychiatry claims that it is pathological; psychiatry promotes a harmful narrative that lacks any medical (biological) criteria. Understanding emotional suffering as a natural response to distressful experiences is critical for improving the human social condition.

    • BEST: 2 formal, public announcements from the American Psychiatric Ass’n:
      1. There will be NO “DSM-6”. Perhaps a DSM-5R, or DSM-5TR, as with the DSM-IVR & DSM-IVTR….
      2. New memberships in the APA will CEASE. Through natural attrition & decease, the APA will cease to exist in a few decades at most.
      VOILA! No psychiatry, no DSM!….

  17. im beginning to think…

    my opinion is that there is no love in psychiatry, psychology, any of it. never was, never will be. even when there’s real human interest in another human being’s life, that’s -despite- the fundamental, core nature of the industry, not because of it.

    Dr.Breggin says that “emotional disorders” are “disorders of love.” Nothing against Dr.Breggin–I’ve found his work exposing psyc drugs quite helpful–but this sounds as if he’s simply -using the power- of his position, rather than further debunking and deconstructing the guild and denouncing the power and authority given him by society, as a psychiatrist. and so…

    maybe “antipsychiatry,” as a movement, is doomed? what was it szasz’s book was entitled…Quackery, Squared? something like that? I personally don’t want an “enlightened” and/or “progressive” psychiatrist, etc. any more than I want the rest of my days to be spent in the clutches of a “humane slave owner.” which makes me think…

    I’m thankful that…yeah, I survived. Thankful to my family, thankful to God. There were no other “survivors” in my journey, and honestly…

    Christians have done more for me than any psychiatrist, counselor, or other survivors. Christ, my family, and Christians.

    maybe we just need to support each other in our efforts to (re)claim whatever is left of our lives, here on earth? I don’t think there are any psych ‘experts’ who are all that interested in letting the captives go free and losing their status and income.

    • Your post makes sense to me except the paragraph about “antipschiatry”; “antipsychiatry” seeks to abolish psychiatry while “critical psychiatry” seeks to reform psychiatry. Were you exchanging the two terms or were you intending to be critical of abolishing psychiatry?

      • abolishing psychiatry is a worthwhile goal. I don’t think I will see it in my lifetime, and I’m young-ish (“old millennial,” I believe is the term for my cohort).

        I just…I don’t know that an antipsychiatry movement will be what ends psychiatry. Maybe? Maybe not. With the high costs and dismal results of psych “care,” nationalized health care might do more to end at least the worst of Mental Health, Inc.’s practices than any movement rooted in shared ideology, even shared experiences.

        “Critical psychiatry,” to me, seems to be a way to acknowledge some of the major problems, make some changes, create careers for those involved, and…in the process…save psychiatry! Its kind of like The New Deal saving capitalism from itself.

        Psychiatry is a state sponsored religion that reflects+serves the interests of those in power. Psych issues are really social and economic and moral issues, not “medical” issues. Therefore…

        I think what I’m thinking and trying to articulate is that -real change-, possibly including the abolition of psychiatry, will probably not come thru an antipsychiatry movement, but rather thru changes in the social and economic and moral roots of psych power.

        • More linearly speaking:

          the abolition of psychiatry, will probably not come thru an antipsychiatry movement, but rather thru changes in the social and economic and moral roots of psych power

          Which must be articulated and spearheaded by a conscious anti-psychiatry movement, along with others.

        • I kind of think all efforts to talk psychiatry to death are doomed to failure from the get go. Basically, it ain’t gonna succumb to talk.

          I also don’t happen to go along with the “abolish psychiatry” slogan in particular. If you’re going to ‘abolish psychiatry’, you’re not going to do so without ‘coercion’, and I’m against coercion.

          I would see psychiatric oppression, that is, coercive psychiatry, abolished. No contradiction there. Psychiatry is only a problem because of its propensity to treat people who don’t want to be treated. Get rid of that power, and psychiatry would no longer be treating people against their expressed will and wishes.

          When psychiatry can’t treat people who don’t want to be treated, when it no longer operates prison camps, what is the problem? All anybody who doesn’t want to be treated has to do is say, “no”.

    • FWIW, Szazs was himself a psychiatrist. If Breggin were starting his career he probably would go for a Ph.D. in psychology, since he is a counselor who only uses his medical knowledge to undo damage done by others. Nowadays, counseling psychiatrists, are very few in number.

      Counseling/coaching/training can itself become counterproductive if you don’t make changes needed to reach your goal.

      And don’t get me started on how “therapy” or counseling has been corrupted by its reliance on psychiatry. I steer clear of community mental illness centers now. When I hear others urging unhappy people not to be afraid to seek out “treatment” I feel like screaming and ripping out my hair.

        • The major problem is presenting rational arguments to irrational people. “Yeah, but the lady in the cartoon Zoloft commercials looks so happy! I know that stuff must help people.”

          I tried telling my friends. Instead of doing any research they laughed at me, saying RW just wrote his books for big bucks. Reading is a waste of time, they think. They work hard and chill in front of the tube when not working.

          People don’t say this of course. But the brainwashing is real. I don’t own a TV and I bet a lot of the survivors here don’t either since it’s full of psych propaganda. Enough of my brain cells have already been killed.

          BTW, if Bob Whitaker wanted $$$$$$ he did a poor job of it. The awards he won are great but they’re prizes. Not guaranteed. He could earn serious money writing for TV or ad copy for Big Pharma. Or combine the genres, writing cartoon drug commercials for the magical new “antidepressant” Zombify. And the atypical “antipsychotic” to help it work Xacerbate.

          • No. I avoid TV by staying in my room a lot. Looks typical. The woman looks like a success story for SSRI’s. Totally calm and blah.

            I know women like that. They are too pain free now. Some are couch potatoes since reading and going on walks are too much work. Others fly into crying fits between “meh” days when the drug is “working.”

            Mine had sent me into a moderate/severe depression for the last decade I took it. No longer depressed enough for suicide. Thanks to quitting my “life saving meds.”

          • Poor Emilia! I saw her kind of “success” story every day at the center for years. And “enjoyed” it in my own life.

            Everyone who worked at the center told us we should be happy to be segregated, dependent on meager hand outs, horribly sick, and unable to smile or weep. Would they consider this desirable for themselves? I think not.

            Those pretty cartoons with dancing pills and lemonade are a bunch of bovine excrement.

      • I feel the same way, Rachel.
        You have great way with words.

        I. also agree with YIS above. Salvation is leaving it behind completely, which for me, isn’t compatible with being an activist. I don’t know how to get past this because in this kind of activism, being angry is hugely discrediting, more so than any other, and being discredited for feeling angry about this, the suggestion or accusation that it proves psychiatry right about protesters, turns my anger into an impotent rage.

        • Going to educate my parents. My mom is 68 and taking celexa. I love her and maybe knowing I came off my cocktail despite the severity of my “diagnosis” might give her the courage. Her doctor took her off cymbalta but Mom was pretty sick and confused since the GP didn’t know much about tapering and had her take pills every other day. 😛

          A lot of uneducated, untrained survivors would know better than that. That’s why survivingantidepressants.com is so trafficked.

          Been off all psych drugs since September of last year. For over a year I took nothing but Effexor. According to psychiatric experts I should have been floridly psychotic and manic, but I was quite calm the whole time with only one brief melt down due to severe autoimmune symptoms like FM. Living in a single wide with my parents too, so it was stressful.

          Still extremely absent minded, disorganized, with poor social skills. My frontal lobes are badly damaged I fear. Segregation with eccentrics/isolation for my whole adult life deserves some credit for the last.

          Anyhow I did not go nuts, murder myself or others, wind up at local eateries in my skivvies, or tell my parents I was actually the princess of another planet…the usual stuff we’re all s’posed to do cause shrinks say we should. Tired of obeying those quacks.

          Staying sane is my ultimate act of defiance to those lying oligarchs. Gainful employment and marriage would be others. (At the center they kept threatening us not to marry. Or even date any “healthy” people.)

          If any militant psych docs are reading I’m sorry I didn’t lose it to prove what omniscient god like beings you are. Oh wait! I’m not. Medicate yourselves.

        • in this kind of activism, being angry is hugely discrediting

          Say what??? On whom are you relying to judge your “credibility”? If by “this kind of activism” you’re referring to anti-psychiatry activism, anger — make that rage — is a requirement.

          • yeah.

            That’s all very well OH, but rage is visceral anger, a biological preparedness to inflict severe hurt or death. It can only be sustained for short bursts without harming or killing the carrier. I’ve got to find a way to some calm and equilibrium about this to be anything more than a self destructive liability.

            As for credibility, what I’m saying is that to gain any traction, any successful movement will have to be a model of non violent resistance, imo. Spitting rage and hatred is counterproductive, but atm, I can’t be anything but hateful and rageful to the mildest provocation. You might think that’s useful, I know I’m useless like this.

          • Mad, maybe?

            I’m not bashing righteous rage.

            As for credibility, is the anger that comes out of personal experience any less credible than many of those little scraps of paper framed and hanging from office walls that we call credentials? The stuffed shirt and nameplate is credible with the credibility that comes of class privilege, status, custom, and excessive bullshit. He or she also, btw, has the potential to be a major impediment to constructive change. I’m also tipping my hat to any con artist that can expose those con artists of conventionality and the status quo for the frauds and hucksters that they actually are.

          • Mad?
            Definitely.

            Thanks for the laugh with my morning coffee.

            As for credibility, I’m with you. But for a movement for change there needs to be equanimity, control and strategy on the side of the marginalised. Those stuffed shirts with their paper credentials can be as crazy and rage filled as they like without losing any ground. It has always been this way in movements for change.

          • So, I think Out is saying that they can’t trust themselves to express anger over this in public? Correct me if I’m wrong Out. I have similar emotional problems linked–I believe–to TBI from a quarter century on the drugs. It’s one thing to be angry over ruined lives and needless deaths. But frothing at the mouth and hysterical or passionate weeping is another. Because they automatically assume you are unstable and dangerous (Dr. Quackenbush told them you are a cold-blooded killer) any display of intense negative emotions is suspect. Best talk about it calmly and clinically detached for an air of “scientific” credibility. Like Mr. Spock.

          • rage is visceral anger, a biological preparedness to inflict severe hurt or death. It can only be sustained for short bursts without harming or killing the carrier

            I take it you’re not Black, which has been described for many as being in a constant state of rage. Anyway, sounds like you need how to channel and focus your rage, not suppress it or guilt trip yourself about feeling it. Discipline is important, but this is different than repression.

            The key is to know what you’re talking about, and learn what arguments are valid and which ones play into the hands of the system.

          • to gain any traction, any successful movement will have to be a model of non violent resistance

            No, fuck all that, we don’t need to be any more “polite” than our adversaries. How did violence even make its way into your consciousness here — who has ever used or called for violence? This is a red herring you seem to be internalizing, and functions as a self-imposed constraint.

          • “How did violence even make its way into your consciousness here…?”

            Violence is intrinsically linked to psychiatry. The psychiatrist frightens the mainstream audience with tales of dangerous crazies running amok committing random acts of violence like some apocalyptic horror flick.

            The self appointed white knight will protect the public by rounding up everyone he thinks may commit a crime in the future. Yes, force will be required–even violence. But it’s for the greater good.

            And it won’t hurt the crazies…much. Not like their kind have feelings anyhow. 🙁

          • @Rachel — That’s not the context he was using, he was reacting to the false knee-jerk accusations made against activist causes of all sorts that they “support violence,” which is almost never the case. It’s similar to accusations made about AP people “supporting Scientology”; the response should not be defensiveness but to expose the absurdity of the charge and move on with what you’re doing.

          • I’m feeling patronised, OH.

            I’m not guilt tripping myself. Anger can be channeled, rage just eats me alive. I’m not in a ‘constant state’ just easily provoked.

            I don’t believe resistance needs to be’ polite’. I do believe that effective resistance requires calm and self control. Usually I can be calm, but for me this issue brings out the worst in me, partly because of not being able to react at the time, but mainly because people I cared about died.

          • Totally understandable. It’s hard to keep calm when you know the damage that is being done. But I also agree that taking a strategic approach is crucial, and sometimes that means focusing the anger/rage toward a particular approach that is most likely to work.

            Doing the right thing doesn’t always feel good!

          • All part of the process you know. I’m just saying the goal should be to utilize the energy in the best way possible, whatever that may be; for me that includes learning to expose the subtext of what even truly progressive people often take for granted in their language and their conceptualization of the problem (which is often dismissed as “picking at semantics”), as well as to explore the strategies & tactics needed to defeat a very sophisticated and multi-tentacled adversary. Maybe it’s a form of passive-aggression, but I enjoy helping psych propagandists trip over their own contradictions for all to see. Far more creative than a knuckle sandwich. Psychiatry’s power rests largely in people’s willingness to to be ignorant, which we should never be hesitant to challenge. (To be sure, it also rests largely on firepower as well.)

    • maybe “antipsychiatry,” as a movement, is doomed?

      Anti-psychiatry has nothing whatever to do with “progressive psychiatrists”; this would be a contradiction in terms. You’re talking about professionals who have appropriated the term, not the actual movement against psychiatry.

    • Antipsychiatry can’t die. Phoenixlike, it is always going to be reborn from its own ashes. As long as coercive mistreatment goes by the name of psychiatry there will be a place for antipsychiatry. As long as psychiatry has it’s bug-a-boo, antipsychiatry, it will be something we can throw in its face, it will be a way of defiance. Should psychiatry stamp out the flame. One more dry stalk is dangled in the wind waiting for a single spark to rekindle the raging fire. As long as people demand compliance, the resilient resistance of antipsychiatry will be a physical need, and a need that is not going to ever fizzle out entirely. As long as psychiatry is unfreedom, antipsychiatry will be freedom. You can’t stamp that out. It is something that is going to come back again and again and again. It will keep coming back until it is triumphant. If psychiatry must kill the spirit, antipsychiatry is the spirit that it is trying to kill, but although you can kill the flesh, you can’t kill a spirit. Try, and that spirit is going to haunt you to the end of your days.

  18. The breakdown of communication that results in the personification of conflicted thought and emotion, cannot be understood within the framework of a self-protective denial or withholding and withdrawal of communication.
    Communication is relation, but the development of coded separations of dominant and subjected roles of personified grievance and fantasy, uses the form of communication to subvert, coerce, and undermine communication, which is both within our mind as it is extending to other minds.
    Love’s awareness is denied by the self-convicted judgement of a self-protective grievance, and such a denial leaves us vulnerable to the deceits of others who are likewise associating separateness with power in the role of ‘helper’ or ‘protector’.
    The misuse of the terms of and forms of love is the masking of the attempt to mimic and manipulate but love itself is a transcendent recognition that lifts us out of the manipulative fear driven personality struggle – if only for a glimpse.
    The true extension of love is of a stark or unadorned and simple self-honesty – regardless the forms it takes. There is no defining of love in positive terms excepting as a recognition that shares of itself to the free willingness of a like recognition in others. There is nothing coercive or divisive in love’s reality but is seen from a freedom from it.
    I write this from my own tuning into a field of willing communication to the listening.
    In human terms we make a complex fragmentation of self and world in fear, hate and grievance, but to a truly Innocent appreciation, all is rendered in terms of sharing love because such is love’s nature and a call for love because there is no other nature even if we dedicate our mind to seeking some other form of completion, reinforcement or vindication. Evil arises from the protection of a lie, to which the true is lost in exchange for a reversal of consciousness under which love is both fearful and hateful, and hate seen as the power of protection, for a separateness believed to be salvation.
    A lie of a love can intend to heal in the validating of itself as identified against evil.
    When Jesus said “resist ye not evil” he was warning against deceit in which we are baited and phished by reaction to hate in others what we thereby hide and protect as hidden self. Align in the true of your peace, Truth and peace are together. Self conflict is a feedback that can invoke a willingness and curiosity to know – but this choice must grow a new habit against the momentum of the old.

    Tis general sketch is my appreciation into the theme of love’s loss to a fractured sense of self and world.
    It is not true that you don’t know what you got til it’s gone. That is a hindsight in lack. We know what we have and are in its presence – which is a shared and tangible quality that cannot be faked by presentation and still share or communicate such qualities of being as we call, love, joy, peace, truth – and are then apt to identify in special forms or special experience or person and seek to manipulate FROM a sense of lack running unnoticed.

    A Course in Miracles is a specialised form of support for identifying and undoing the blocks to love’s awareness now – that served and serves me. But the synchronicities that align for anyone who themselves give willingness to a desire to heal unto truth will be what works for you in your relational constellation. No one already convicted or convinced of the truth of their own (or anyone else’s) judgement, is open or listening or curious or willing for truth – but are engaged in struggle to determine it – including the fear of others imposing their will and the hatred of being coerced or undermined in what you take to be your own.

    • I support all the efforts people are making to change, reform, get rid or even destroy psychiatry. For me Peter’s article speaks of another possibility to address human suffering. Psychiatry survives because it has medicalized human suffering and frightened if not terrorized the populace. When there seems to be no where else to turn for what appears to be “madness” psychiatry will survive. Psychiatry will wither on the vine like most other movements that are antithetical to the human spirit of liberty and growth. For me I wish to deprive psychiatry at the source. If people who are suffering have others to turn to, others who are not afraid of being with someone in their suffering who doesn’t have to fix, cure, advise or make better; psychiatry has fewer patients. If we truly believe that love, empathy, engagement, community, persistence can heal then we have within all of us the power to effect change. We don’t have to wait. Everyday we have the opportunity to assist if allowed. It is for US to change from believing(not on this forum but in the public) others called professionals, are the authorities regarding human suffering. That is where the madness truly lies. We are responsible to care for ourselves but not in a vacuum; but also for each other and build healing communities. Psychiatry only exists because of our collective failure(albeit supported by psychiatry) to see human suffering as given in the human condition and that it is our responsibility to tend to each other and not abdicate our own inner powers to heal and to contribute to each other’s healing. There are now many alternative kinds of communities developing around the world addressing this. I am doing my little part in getting these messages out to the public. I am grateful for all those here who share with such passion their desires for change.

      • Dr. Blatt, I firmly believe the cause for the increase of depression and other extreme states comes largely from loneliness and lack of community. One of the places people used to find unconditional love was through churches/synagogues/etc.

        I notice the churches I have attended the last few years have been heavily pushing psychiatry. On the one hand I want to commend their desire to help people. But I also get irritated because they seem to be using it as a way to tell those who are suffering to bug off.

        Instead of asking Dave to join you for a cup of coffee while he grieves his recent divorce or job loss you tell him you’re not qualified to help him. He needs a certified therapist instead. Oh, and is he taking his “meds?”

        If he’s not he deserves to be severely punished by being locked up, then shunned by everyone at church on his release. This is not good for anyone. The “meds” are only half the reason so few people with labels lead good lives.

        • Hi Rachel
          I enjoy your posts and please call me Ken. I agree with you. The sources of our despair come from many wells. The APA has a major initiative to “reach out” to all faith based organizations and spread the gospel according to the APA thereby bringing in more people to become patients. The motive is to “end the stigma” by declaring “mental-illness is a brain disease like any other disease” so we should not discriminate and send those we’re concerned about to the doctor. In effect this increases otherness and fear and discrimination only increases. We all suffer in our own ways. We all have the same needs for sustenance and human connection and kindness. I’d rather be in the coffee shop talking to another alongside of me who can listen than facing a psychiatrist who is behind a huge desk while he/she is on the computer and writing out a prescription.

          • Thank you Ken.

            It doesn’t help that many of us are so trusting of authority figures. And that is how we view doctors.

            Until I read the works of William Glasser I had no idea psychiatry was ungrounded in known science. Seriously. I majored in liberal arts and left science/medicine to the experts like most do.

            Still trying to persuade my parents. My brother works for Pfizer so there’s a real conflict of interest there.

            My dad’s a retired preacher. Well read and intelligent. I showed him an article by Dr. Ronald Pies published in the APA Journal. Dad was upset by the philosophy of monism underlying the premise of the article. This runs counter to the doctrine of many orthodox faiths.

            Now they realize the Chemical Imbalance is an urban legend and characters like Pies are laughing up their sleeves at the “uninformed” public they have deceived. For our own good of course.

      • Dr. B, not bad at all for an MD. 🙂 Almost the only thing I would disagree with is using the phrase “alternatives to psychiatry,” as though psychiatry is the standard by which any attempt to alleviate suffering must be measured.

        On a more systemic level, while suffering is on one level a part of the human condition, it is increased exponentially in a world system in which the bottom line in all human pursuits and aspirations has been reduced to, well, the bottom line.