Smoke and Flames: Silence In A World On Fire


Power does not just corrupt, as is so often said. It also reflects. The sun has gone deep red and the sky obscured with smoke this week, but some clarity has also emerged in that reflection.

When I was 16 years old I wrote a paper for my political science class that was three times the length and involved far more research than the assignment required. It was an “A” paper. I got a “B” on it — and my first lesson in the misuse of authority, and becoming complicit with corruption in the world.

My professor (I started college two years early) wrote in red pen next to my “B” grade that the paper was indeed impressive, but he disagreed with my political views expressed, thus the lower grade. He had a reputation for adulation around campus, fawning students forming his entourage, and I had dared to disagree with him. He was entrusted by the school with supporting my learning, but instead he was advancing his own self interest and punishing me unfairly when I wouldn’t go along with his personal political beliefs. And so there it was, plain to see: he was corrupt.

I then learned my second lesson of the misuse of power. I wanted to speak up for what was right, but when I considered it my stomach twisted, sheets of cold swept my body, and nausea stirred my gut. Growing up I was often the bright kid who stood out at the head of the class, and I paid a price for it: I was violently bullied. And now when I considered speaking up to the school administration about my grade, I was again paralyzed with shame: I feared that the act of speaking up for what’s right would expose me, bring shame down on me, I’d be seen as selfish. And I was afraid the end result would be losing some standing in the school. Memories of the bullying held me back, and I opted not for what’s right but for what I thought was my self interest. I didn’t speak up about my professor’s corruption.

I was going along with his misuse of power, and I realized he was doing to others what he had done to me. I saw that I was in a way now part of his entourage, not adoring him, but carrying some of his secrets with my silence. By not challenging him I kept my allegiance to him. The next student to come along wouldn’t hear about any of this, and when it happened to them they too would feel alone, also too afraid to speak up, and the cycle would repeat. A corrupt world is built brick by brick by such individual acts of shame and silence. And I made my decision, and I was caught up in it.

I moved on with my life. Or so I thought.

The Academy Award winning film Spotlight, about the Catholic Church’s current protection of serial child sexual abuse, makes this same crucial point about how corruption is supported. The team of journalists track the scandal from corrupt priest to corrupt politician to corrupt judge, at each step finding cover-up and denial in a broad web of complicity. Corruption spreads out from the actual violations like concentric pools of blood, leaving stained hands to the very heights of society. And then the journalists make the final devastating discovery of the film. As they probe the depths of denial and cover-up throughout their community, they discover that the complicity extends back to the newspaper they are working for, which for years dismissed evidence of the crimes and wouldn’t investigate. They realize they are part of the very crime they are uncovering. Looking for corruption out there they end up looking in the mirror. The Other was in fact in them.

It might seem that I am blowing a trivial mistreatment over a grade into a major scandal — that teachers unfairly cut down their students’ grades for petty reasons all the time, and that I should get over it. But years later, after I had left the school, my professor and my B grade behind, I learned how far his corruption had gone: the professor had a sexual relationship with one of his teenage students, had gotten her pregnant, and was fired from the school. It was a community scandal. I was shocked but not completely surprised. The broader pattern was clear; there was consistency in his corrupt behavior. He felt free to use power with impunity to advance his personal interest and agenda, even to the point of hurting others, and he did.

Part of his impunity relied on people going along and not speaking up. Though it was just an unfair grade, if I had spoken up it might have formed one part of a counterforce to his behavior. Others might have paused to think, scrutinize him more closely, or be more cautious around him. It might have emboldened more people to speak up. If I could have made a stand and done the right thing, it might not just have been for the sake of saving my A grade, I might have played a part in preventing the more serious harm that was to come. But my own self interest about how others would see me, my own shame and fear, held me back.

That was decades ago. And last night a powerful synchronicity lit all this up again for me and brought me to a new place of speaking up.

I was in my kitchen playing Jenga with several friends. Jenga as you likely know is about building a tower of blocks that someone inevitably has to bring crashing down. One of my friends turned to me and said that his parents teach at the same school where I got my degree in Jungian psychology, the Process Work Institute of Portland. I had known this friend for a few months but didn’t realize the connection. It was a stunning coincidence. We started chatting, and I asked him why he didn’t get his own training as a Jungian at the Process Work Institute, but went to a different Jungian school instead? The Process Work Institute is great, he said, there are many good things about it, but, “it has some problems…”

I immediately knew what he was talking about. The uncanny scene, there by the Jenga tower with the son of two of my teachers from school, sent a cascade of memories — and new clarity — into motion within me.

After dropping out of a San Francisco graduate program in 1999, sinking into a crisis and going back into a mental health facility, I eventually pulled my life back together seven years later to try again, this time studying at the Process Work Institute. The Process Work theory and approach were much more sympathetic to the patient survivor movement perspective, and a school where RD Laing’s Politics of Experience and Jung’s Red Book were held in regard promised a supportive context for me to start again and pursue a Masters in Counseling.

For the most part my expectations were met. The school taught me a great deal and I did finally get my degree and start my work as a counselor. I consider Jung and Process Work to be a valuable approach, with much more to offer than most other therapy approaches I have looked into. At the same time, however, I kept running up against a kind of discipleship hierarchy at the school, where critical thinking about Process Work and Arnold Mindell — Jungian analyst, the school’s founder, and creator of Process Work — met automatic resistance, a closing of ranks by those at the top of the school pyramid. There was a clinical air combined with a spiritual insularity, with expertise and enlightenment vested in the higher ups. The school, it seemed, wasn’t as comfortable facing its own shadow as it was in pointing out the shadows of others.

I tended to shrug off these reservations and keep going, and eventually made my way through the program and to my goals of an MA and a Diploma in Process Work. I was enthusiastic with my new skills and soon I had an office at the Institute, a thriving private practice as a therapist, was teaching Continuing Education Credit courses, running a highly regarded community group Portland Hearing Voices, and lived in my own apartment a short walk from Forest Park. I got off Social Security and the disability checks I had been receiving since 15 years earlier. I was growing roots into a new life.

Then one day I unexpectedly ran headlong into the schools’ discipleship and shadow I had been trying to avoid. The Director of the Institute walked into my office to chat, as we often did when we had a break from clients or a pause in our work. He sat down, and said, in a casual and indifferent manner, sort of oh-by-the-way: “You know,” he said, “I lost my license to practice as a psychotherapist.”

“Oh?” I said.

“Yes, I had a sexual relationship with a client,” he said.

“Oh?!” I said, alarmed and confused.

“Yes,” he said. “I got unlucky.”

I looked at him in growing shock and dismay, and he said, “Yes, I got a borderline.”

“I got unlucky. I got a borderline.”

Suddenly, just as I was getting my own career going as a counselor, I was grappling with unethical behavior by the Director of the very institution I was affiliated with and had invested many years of my life contributing to. I was grappling with him presenting no indication of remorse or self-reflection about the wrongness of his actions. I was grappling with his vile use of a misogynist clinical interpretation to justify himself and discredit his client. And most crucially, I was grappling with the possibility that the Institute knew about all this and was keeping quiet, protecting him in his position as Director. I had realized long ago that, broadly speaking, psychotherapy is a corrupt industry, rife with the harmful misuse of power and classifying people as higher and lower. Diagnosing clients as sick to defend harmful behavior by therapists is one of the most egregious forms of this corruption. I just hadn’t expected the corruption to reach to my own school.

I was immediately paralyzed with shame. Should I speak up about this? Or, just as I had feared challenging my professor years before, would that risk exposing me and I would become the problem?

In my boiling shame, I froze. I failed to take action.

I buried the shocking encounter with the Director somewhere inside me. Like my school professor, he had dumped one of his secrets on me and pulled me into his corruption. And so by failing to act, I became part of his misuse of power. He remained practicing at the Institute. The Institute was not transparent to students, clients, or the school community about his history of losing his license and being fined for it. Behind closed doors the school must have had its reasons, believing they should hire him anyway and remain quiet about his history. They must have deemed him rehabilitated and remorseful and worth protecting from scrutiny, but here I had clear evidence that he wasn’t. He remained Director. My therapy office was down the hall from his. It was business as usual, except that I had a neighbor who seemed to think he was “unlucky” for sleeping with his therapy client and losing his license because, well, she was “borderline.”

None of this felt okay of course, being in that shame trap. I was frozen but unresolved, in a no-escape bind. My time in Portland started quickly to unravel. The ingredients for renewed madness were beginning to work on me. I had a lot of new factors in my life, and I didn’t go into a self-destructive crisis like I had so many times before, but I was at a loss. The corruption I had run into started to fit with other hesitations about the Institute, and I had also seen before how poorly the Institute responded at times when challenged. I was there holding the shadow of my school and I couldn’t handle it. My own sense of despair and confusion took deep root.

I responded in the hurt and powerless manner shame had taught me throughout my life: I became invisible, quiet, small. I slowly distanced myself from the Institute and Process Work, I gave up my office and apartment, I turned away from my growing income as a teacher at the Institute, I let go of and stepped away from the life I had spent years working to build. All in a cloud of confused shame. And silence.

In the kitchen playing Jenga, in the wild coincidence of sitting there with the son of two Process Work faculty I knew and had studied with, something was shaken inside of me. The life pattern around shame, stretching back to my professor and school bullying and my family history of trauma, came into greater clarity. Something fell apart — my own inner story about it all couldn’t hold up any more. It was wrong for the school to hire a Director with this history and not tell anyone about it, and consider him rehabilitated when he clearly wasn’t. It was wrong that a male therapist blamed sleeping with his female client on her being “borderline.” But the realization became clear in me, that regardless of what I was afraid of happening, I was wrong not to speak up, because I was now with my silence complicit in the misconduct. I realized that shame not only hurts us, but drives us, out of fear of exposure, to be part of things that our hearts would otherwise want no part of.

I started to see how self-serving and wrong it is to think of “corruption” as something “out there” in other people.

I deeply regret that I did not sooner address this publicly. It was my decision to not speak or act, mine alone. I can’t say the reason I kept quiet is because others also kept quiet, or because the several people who I did tell thought it okay to keep quiet, or because speaking up at the Institute meant facing a possible pushback. It was my decision to not speak up. And with that decision I became part of the problem. I should have done something more.

So with my new clarity, I took to today’s public square, Facebook. I was shaking with fear of what might happen, all the shame stretching back to my childhood clawing at me to hold back. I feared I would be exposed and lose some standing for stepping out into the light with all this, and would now be seen as the problem, something wrong with me. But I spoke up anyway. I offered my public apology. I apologized to all the people hurt.

And the shame set in, eating me away inside like a poison.

When I was 16 and didn’t stand up to my corrupt political science professor, I had all the shame from bullying in my family and school holding me back. Now there was that same twisted feeling in my gut, the same cold waves running down my body. But now I was speaking up against a therapist, and publicly challenging other therapists in a school and clinic where I had worked — some of them had even been my own teachers and my own therapists.

I was afraid diagnosis would be turned against me, labels that still, after all these years, have their grip and can sow doubt and undermine my stability. Despite a clearly much more open and insightful understanding of madness and psychiatry, I had seen at the Portland counseling school what I had seen at every other counseling school I have ever come across (perhaps with the exception of my Open Dialogue training, and trainings in the peer movement). People are scrutinized and then devalued for some defect related to pathology. Those lower in the hierarchy bear the brunt of the clinical judgments of those higher. Whether it’s “schizoaffective disorder schizophrenia” and being delusional, as I was labeled with at Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, or the “having relationship edges” and being a “difficult person” needing more enlightened awareness in the language of Process Work, clinical institutions wield a power of labeling that cuts deep. I could be discredited because something is wrong with my personality and even my spirituality. I was making it up. I was acting out. I was playing out some hurt or wound or pattern. I wasn’t compassionate enough. Me speaking up was just my own “self-sabotaging” pattern, more pathology. Speaking up wasn’t a principled act, a desire to do the right thing and embrace the truth. Speaking up wasn’t about the issue, it was about something wrong with me, my broken self, now being exposed, my stigma showing, my own self-interest.

The Director had put all this clinical power on display when he dismissed the woman he violated as “borderline.” Seen through the label, she wasn’t acting on the side of truth when she spoke up and got him to lose his license, she was exposing a symptom of her personality disorder. Seen through the label, he had gotten into trouble not because he had done something wrong, but because something was wrong with her. The message was clear: If we just would accept the fact that she is “borderline,” and if we knew the full story, we’d see that, instead of this being about the clear prohibition on sex with clients, well, it was actually more of a grey area, she was at fault, she was acting out her damaged personality.

Now I was afraid that by speaking up I would join her. I was afraid the Institute I had been part of, the teachers and therapists I had worked with, would deploy their own categorizing and labeling against me. I knew they were good people and I believed many or even most would take the side of supporting me standing up… but there was also that fear… I knew, from years of training both at the Process Work Institute and at the California Institute for Integral Studies, that the mentality to use labeling and diagnosis comes swiftly to skilled therapists and becomes reflexive in learning to defend themselves when challenged. The Institute counts itself as a caring place, and I’ve seen a great deal of healing there, and Jungians might wrap it all in a more sophisticated language, but the message is clear: There is something wrong with you, you are not one of Us here at the top, you are one of Them, down below. It’s an insidious dynamic, and I have even caught myself doing it sometimes (and I am thankful to people who have spoken up to me against this).

I might also be given a kind of spiritual diagnosis: not being caring and self-aware enough. I shouldn’t speak up, because I would just end up making things worse, turn the tables and now I would be the one doing the public shaming and diagnosing, by outing the school Director. Shouldn’t I just keep it all quiet, maybe speak up at a secret committee meeting to keep it under wraps, instead of risking, because something is wrong with me, reversing roles, and becoming a bully myself? Wasn’t speaking up just changing places with the person doing wrong, because I wasn’t worthy, enlightened enough, skilled enough to speak up?

In our world of media poison and political slur, scapegoating and righteousness, it is very hard to imagine how to challenge a specific behavior without launching a broad attack on the badness of the Other. Pointing out another’s wrong behavior can quickly spiral into attacking them as a person, discounting their good side and shaming them for being bad. By speaking I was risking being exposed for doing that. I’m sure the Director has done good work as a therapist, helped many people, and I knew him to be a perfectly nice and caring person… and yet here was his corruption. He also had a huge horrific blind spot. This dilemma shouldn’t hold us back; I had to find a way to challenge his misconduct and the school’s protection of it, and at the same time not just flip it around and make him and the school in a sense a new victim — now with me as the accusing perpetrator. How to challenge the behavior, and also be concerned and compassionate for the other side? Without ending up being paralyzed and protecting misconduct with silence, as the school had apparently done and I had gone along with?

(I’ve known of this dilemma since I was a teenager and learned about Dr. King’s nonviolence, which aims to respect the humanity of the other while being ruthlessly outspoken and militant in confronting their behavior. In King’s legacy today we tend to remember the peacemaker and the preacher of tolerance, and forget that King and Gandhi’s nonviolence actively provoke fierce outspoken confrontation, trigger a dramatic response, and bring injustice dramatically out into the open. King was a troublemaker and a disturber, not, as he has been so often revisioned, someone just on the side of being “peaceful.”)

That night playing Jenga I decided that all the reasons not to speak up just meant I was doing what I had done with the professor who had given me the lower grade. I was becoming part of the protection of the misconduct itself. And I had kept the whole thing going not just out of fear of retaliation and exposure but out of what amounted to my self interest — self interest in my status and standing among colleagues at the Institute. I had been selfish in going along with their decision to keep his behavior quiet and give him the benefit of the doubt, when he was in fact taking no responsibility and was going around blaming his client for being borderline. That’s a much harder reality for me to face, the real shadow of the shiny self-regarding view of myself: I had been selfish and self-interested. It’s one thing to admit I had been afraid, quite another to admit I had made a selfish choice to advance my own status over doing the right thing.

In a way I had done the very thing that a corrupt professor or an unethical therapist does: put self interest first. And when I started to see it more clearly this way, as about my own status and standing and selfishness, I realized I had made a choice I didn’t agree with. It just wasn’t worth it. I had made the wrong choice before, and now I needed to make the right choice. I needed to speak up, regardless.

* * *

On the phone with another colleague trying to make sense of all this, I was told something that stopped me in my tracks. “You know, Will, you can’t really speak out about things, because of your own misconduct. People will use it against you.”

It was like a whole picture coming into focus, him telling me this. I think I knew what he was referring to, a wrong I had done 13 years ago, and even though he was advising me to keep quiet, on reflection I instead felt more emboldened, more sure I needed to speak up. I began to see what might be at the heart of this shame and corruption dynamic in our society, and to sense, maybe, a pathway out of it, for all of us.

13 years earlier I had been called out — deservedly — for dating another activist in our advocacy and support group. She was vulnerable and a lot younger than me (15 years younger, she was 24, I was 39), and what I did was wrong. It was a consensual relationship and as a collective I wasn’t in any supervisory or hiring role, but I certainly had power and status that I didn’t take into account how it would impact her. When we ended our dating she was very hurt. I put my self interest in sexual pleasure and easy companionship above my caring for her needs. I chose someone younger and more vulnerable than me and I felt safer and more free that my power wouldn’t be threatened. I pursued a relationship I knew wouldn’t last, on my terms, based on her being more pliant to me as older and more established. And to make things worse, at the beginning when I was challenged I had defended myself, and it took a long time of our group holding me accountable for me to finally realize I had made a big mistake, and for me to apologize. With my apology I didn’t want to deny the facts of what happened, but at the same time when gossip started flying I didn’t want anything inaccurate to be spread about me. And so I also made the move — questionable in hindsight, as I was certainly wielding my power and influence — to approach the woman’s employer and ask to rein in anything inaccurate being gossiped.

I realized how hard it must have been for the woman I dated to speak up when I had more power and status in the community. I saw, reluctantly, that I had been given a valuable wake-up lesson. It kicked off discussions about sexuality and power in my life. I looked at my choices to date and have relationships with people younger than me. I looked at the differences of vulnerability with people I was dating, questioning myself in the relationships I had with other women who I had met in our group. I looked at power and leadership and vulnerability in activist communities. I reached out to female friends to help me look closely at my patterns of relationships and sex, exploring if there was something I wasn’t seeing or was defending unfairly.

This was at a time when I was growing into more status and prestige. The Freedom Center, Valley Free Radio (another project I was part of), and The Icarus Project, a national group I started working for — all were giving me status to some degree in the community eye, and some people were looking up to me. Sex was caught up in “movement” settings that were in some ways mixtures of both workplaces and communities. After hiding for much of my life under the darkness of a mental illness diagnosis, feeling weak and vulnerable, mistrustful and lonely around people, I had to grapple with the reality of visibility, status, and power. I was in a world where I was being seen more, and having more of an impact — and facing my own exposure and shame more. My identity as a bisexual man, being polyamorous, and being unmarried and childfree meant something in a world where these things are all, for some people, bound to invite scrutiny and gossip.

As money and power had started to flow more into the recovery and alternative mental health movement (state and federal contracts, wealthy donors, international coalitions, media interest), there were new dynamics of politics and competition at work. New levels of secrets and backbiting seemed to be taking hold as they do everywhere there is money and power at stake, with everyone vying for positions that hadn’t been so appealing when I first began my volunteer organizing in this movement. Competition and gossip were reality. I was seen and held up and looked up to more often, and under a lot of criticism from people, including those who might be competing. It was a new world for me, a world where the corruption of “the system” was starting to show up more and more everywhere I looked, and where a movement was starting to seem and act more and more like an industry. I struggled with “paranoia” and wanting to hide, but I knew I had to come out more, I had to start to learn how to take more responsibility for my status and influence and understand that the world where I had begun as co-founder of a small community support group was now a different world.

I certainly had done wrong, that was definitely true, and certainly people will (and should) evaluate me for it; I have to accept that, that some will judge me and raise questions. I remain open to talk about it with anyone who asks, doing my best to set aside my prior defensiveness. I tried to learn from it and incorporate it into my life in the process of being a man, having status and authority, and learning from mistakes how to do my best. I really began to understand that we all have our shadow sides we can’t see — me included — and the challenge is not just to be a good person, but to respond well when our inevitable failings to be a good person blindside us. Especially when our first reaction is defensive.

What happened happened and I don’t want to hide from scrutiny — or have it hold me back.

So when my colleague told me I shouldn’t speak up because I would be exposed and shamed for my own wrongdoing, the whole social pattern came into clarity. The usual way that corrupt and unethical behavior gets “called out” is in a righteous tirade of Us vs Them. Perpetrators are denigrated and victims elevated. The spotlight goes out against Them, and everyone starts Othering and picks sides. Then the target you sling mud at slings mud back at you, and we all go to the ground. You will also be under the spotlight. So you better not speak up unless you want to be exposed and have someone talk about you. Speak up, toss the first stone, and get hit back. So we as a society have built walled camps of righteousness against the bad Other, hiding our own shadow as we attack the shadow of those we see as lesser. Democrats and Republicans do it to each other. Men do it to women. Women, certainly, do it to men. And without a doubt survivors, psychiatric survivors, do it to mental health professionals. Scapegoating can become the flip side of complicity, our shared trap of shame. I have seen abuse flow in all directions in families and between patients and professionals. We may have different access to power, we may be in unequal relationships, but it’s in everyone, this Us versus Them shaming dynamic. We all do it.

We are all in these shame traps: Be silent and be complicit? Speak up and be exposed? Bully in reverse through accusation? Keep status or lose it by becoming a troublemaker? Protect the misconduct of others so you can hide your own shadow side from scrutiny?

It isn’t just “them.” It’s also us. When we discover some abuse of power, and we honestly trace its roots, we always will end up finding ourselves in it somehow. We will find the complicity of silence and denial, we will find the unleashing of scapegoating and persecution of the bad guy, or we will find we are hiding our own transgressions from being exposed to scrutiny. My colleague was advising me to turn away from that mirror, to avoid having my own shadow in the open, to not be honest because it would bring shame down on me. I should stay silent and go along and be complicit, so that everyone else would be complicit with me. We should all just keep our heads down, stay silent, cash our paychecks and enjoy our reputations.

But I disagree. I think the opposite is true. I think we all need to face our shadow. In these traps we all suffer, our world suffers, our movement suffers, the future suffers, our hearts suffer. We all sink into stress and despair, we all are pulled into cynicism and giving up. We betray younger generations who have trusted our words and haven’t learned the lessons of listening for our silences. These traps are the ingredients of suffering and madness for all of us. We are all held in these dynamics of shame, and it is setting the world on fire. Hiding and silence help no one.

If we are going to make a world we all can feel at home with, safe in, we often start with movements. In our movement since the early days of Freedom Center I’ve tried not just to advocate for changes out there but also to nurture changes within ourselves. We are survivors who need empowerment both in terms of the system and inside our own healing process. We envisioned Freedom Center as an activist and also a support community. A place to be at home and to be safe. In many ways we joined the nonviolent tradition of Dr. King, where we march against injustice in the world and also create together a “beloved community” of caring for each other. When I was held accountable and challenged for my misconduct 13 years ago, it was painful and overwhelming, but it served the right purpose: holding me accountable and protecting the integrity of our beloved community.

In this movement I’ve found we create in microcosm the things we oppose: looking at the “out there” we also find it “in here.” Not in exact proportion, and the power differences are real, but we mirror each other. We all face shame and the dynamics of speaking up or keeping silent. There are many closets around with skeletons in them — and many people walking around with the keys to those closets. People hold each other’s secrets in webs of complicity to corruption just like people did around my professor, just like around the Director of my therapy school. I’ve been part of that. And I want to start to unravel those dynamics. We are in this movement together, but at times we lose the bigger vision. I’ve heard over and over quiet whispers of gossip hidden from the light of day when what is needed is transparent disclosure — and the gossip protects the person gossipped about and fuels competition and turf battles for funding. I’ve seen corruption and tried to speak up (intellectual property theft, sexual abuse, money mismanagement), then struggled with these same traps of shame and complicity, scapegoating and retaliation. I’ve gotten burned many times, learned to keep quiet…

And then I remember the deeper vision, and I keep trying. I have a commitment to the people I have met and worked with and represent, a commitment to the work of healing. I have to keep taking risks. I am always encouraging clients, support group members, and families, to find courage, to speak up, to live honestly and find their truth. So don’t I also have to do this work myself? Don’t we all have to do this work?

Maybe this is not just #metoo. Maybe this is #ustoo. Maybe we need to commit to not holding toxic secrets, not just for those around us but in ourselves. Maybe we have to face our shadows, together, not just attack the shadow of the other. Can we imagine something new — not “calling someone out,” but calling ourselves out together? Can everyone who is holding back start to speak up in a mutual process of healing our world? Can we let go of the shiny Facebook status updates and the righteous poses for our funders and the media, can we hold back from the media mud scapegoat spectacle, and can we start getting real about the shadows we all have, the corruption we are all part of?

As I write this the sky is literally filled with smoke and the sun is blood red because our world is changing. Our political system is broken. We are afraid and angry. We are descending into an Us vs Them world. Time is running short. We have to start making real changes — real changes. Real changes! And take real risks. We have to find courage. Psychiatry and the mental health system are failing, but they are also just sets of human relationships, relationships we are also part of. Maybe our greatest act of courage is to see it’s not just “out there,” but it’s also inside of us. Maybe we can bear the shame, and the scrutiny, of admitting that it is “our side” that is also part of the problem, that we are dangerously also part of “the system.” Maybe we can break the silence that protects misconduct and corruption around us — even while it means being exposed ourselves. Maybe we can challenge misconduct in the system fiercely and uncompromisingly, and also keep ourselves open and vulnerable to misconduct within ourselves. Maybe we can start being honest with each other.

The Process Work Institute responded to my public apology with a thoughtful email dialogue about what happened and what to do about it. As of this writing they are in a continued discussion internally about their responsibility to be transparent when hiring and hosting a therapist who has lost their license, and what it means that their own judgement of rehabilitation was obviously so wrongheaded. They are looking at how their behind-closed-doors decision harmed others by not giving everyone the facts so we could decide for ourselves. But I also sense all the same dynamics at play, and I don’t know what they will end up doing by way of apology or restorative process now that their actions are more in the public light. They might just close ranks, say they did nothing wrong, and treat this like a personal problem with me. They might subtly put me back into the client role, and then, as therapists so often do when challenged, say there must be something wrong inside me, something not spiritually advanced enough or psychologically healed enough, in me (and then condescendingly even offer to help my distress). They might see their special skills and philosophy as putting them above playing by the rules. They might just continue to play the corrupt game of power.

But they might do something different. They might instead start to look at all this more clearly, to recognize that even a deep command of sophisticated psychological theory can’t eradicate the fact that we all have shadows, we all have blind spots, we are all in this complicity and corruption together. Maybe instead of consulting lawyers and keeping our secrets close, we will meet together and have an honest conversation, looking at all we have done wrong, all of us, sharing our shadows, together.

That’s a dialogue I’d want to be part of. And a movement worth struggling for.


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


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  1. Thanks Will. This is a very deep and thoughtful essay! I really appreciate the way you addressed your own mistakes, and the way fear of facing our own mistakes can then make us more fearful of calling out something that is wrong in others.

    And it’s also important that we find measured ways of calling out the failings not just of our enemies but also of our close allies. This requires something other than black and white thinking – we don’t want to trash people who are otherwise doing good work, but we also don’t want to just get silent when real damage is being done by people who otherwise are doing good things.

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  2. I’m not really good with setting boundaries myself, preferring to get past them. I guess that makes me something of a dinosaur.

    I’m not in the mood for a witch burning, even if the witch we’re talking about burning happens to be a witch doctor.

    I’m not a big one for the ‘confessional mode’ either, and with that, there goes the entire therapy industry out the window.

    Sexuality is ALWAYS going to be a sensitive issue. If one is going to blow the whistle on anything, I’d want it to be on something more important than some minor sexual indiscretion or other. I simply think, if you’re going to destroy a person’s career, there’s got to be a better reason for doing so than somebody’s injured pride.

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    • I disagree: “Sexuality is ALWAYS going to be a sensitive issue. If one is going to blow the whistle on anything, I’d want it to be on something more important than some minor sexual indiscretion or other.” Sex is USUALLY a sensitive issue EXCEPT between a therapist and a client wherein I believe that it should be criminal- a breach of fiduciary duty.

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      • Okay, and so if one has an intimate relationship, one must drop the professional relationship, and vice versa? What does that do for “love at first sight”, or even at “second sight”? I don’t have all the answers, but I do know, as they say, s***t happens.

        I don’t think this taboo of yours (i.e. the given present patient doctor dichotomy) was such as it has become today.

        Carl Gustav Jung, if you’ve seen the movie A Dangerous Method (2011) is known for having had a relationship with one of his patients, or former patients, and a future psychoanalyst herself, Sabina Spielrein, but perhaps it was actually after the professional relationship had dissolved that the intimate one began. Regardless, life can get messy. Provided, of course, the engine turns over at all.

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        • I imagine that your Exception is actually going to make sex between therapist and client more Sensitive than would otherwise be the case rather than less so. Enacting a law against such interactions is not going to prevent outlaws from arising…nor, for that matter, in laws.

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        • Frank Blankenship wrote: “Carl Gustav Jung, if you’ve seen the movie A Dangerous Method (2011) is known for having had a relationship with one of his patients, or former patients, and a future psychoanalyst herself, Sabina Spielrein, but perhaps it was actually after the professional relationship had dissolved that the intimate one began.”

          Nope. Jung commenced the spanky hanky-panky with Ms Spielrein while undertaking his experimental version of Freud’s techniques. We know this because he revealed to Freud in private correspondence what was going on and Freud was furious, this adding further to their inevitable parting of ways. Spielrein expressed no regrets for Jung’s groundbreaking therapeutic fucking. But what she did regret were a number of her psychoanalytic ideas being stolen by Jung and Freud and her being effectively written out of the history books.

          I agree with Will Hall’s implicit call for fighting corruption. I think that all therapists that consider themselves therapeutic fuckers should come out about it and make it absolutely clear from the off that their therapy may involve them prostituting themselves out for cash.

          I expect gentler terms would be arrived at in the honest self-reappraisal.

          Therapy with benefits?

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          • I don’t really care if the therapeutic play of this couple carried over into their sex play, or vice versa. That’s their business, not mine. I don’t think every relationship involves one predatory individual taking advantage of an innocent and naive patsy. Some relationships are a matter of two people taking advantage of each other.

            I think there is a big difference between priests molesting children and being protected by the church and two adults, with emphasis on adult, getting involved in a relationship. I don’t buy the current “adult child” nonsensical narrative that is being sent down the line, and as such, I think people should be able to make their own decisions.

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        • In the case Will talked about it wasn’t just the inappropriate sex. But once it was found out the man blamed it on the eeeevul “borderline” herself.

          Should have asked Dr. Sane McFeely what his excuse was since he claimed to be “mentally healthy.” Forcing folks like him to take a barrage of psych tests when caught in the Act would cut back on a lot of this crap.

          When police get caught committing crimes they fare poorly in prison. I wonder how “mental health” enforcers would fare in the hellish system they have enforced.

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        • I disagree unless your client is a minor.

          We could also be dealing with the case of a client “taking advantage of a therapist”, except in that case, the matter would, after Freud, be called “transference”, would it not?

          I always had a problem with the circumscribed and bracketed unreality of therapy, set apart from real life, and I still do. I don’t see a great deal of benefit in treating grown people like children, and, in fact, I see a lot of harm developing out of doing so.

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          • I used the term “client” to address the “business” obligation of a “therapist/counselor” in our (capitalistic) society. Lawyers and therapists are contracted to put their clients’ interests ahead of their own interests related to the type of work provided. Sexual behavior is about self-interest so this type of relationship should not qualify for “tough love.”

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          • Huh, and re-huh. “Tough love” is usually punishment masquerading as affection, isn’t it? Had we affection masquerading as punishment, that would be something else, wouldn’t it? My only point is, in this instance, if you think that in this ‘director’ guy you have caught another Harvey Weinstein, I don’t think so.

            I don’t see this as some matter that would be frowned on in a capitalist setting but smiled at in a socialist one. Martyrdom, in the sense of eternally delayed gratification, is a hard way to go, and sometimes it can get excessive.

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        • Business obligations are about self-interest, too. With regard to “love” as “punishment”, or where it is “forced”, in what we call “rape” and “assault”, I’d be in agreement. Outside of that, I prefer due process, something prisoners of the “mental health” system don’t get, over character assassination. Given due process, your suspect is innocent until proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt. Should such a professional amateur mismatch produce another mad psychiatrist or mad psychologist, I would hope not to be too prejudiced against the subject myself.

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  3. Frank’s comment resonates with me, at least somewhat. I’ve heard this tendency — which has been building steam since before “me too” and stretches into other areas as well — referred to as the “politics of denunciation.” Here it just feels vaguely self-indulgent. What I note more than anything is how the women involved, due to the “professional” nature of the situation, have been reduced to “clients,” and their perceptions of and feelings about these “unprofessional” encounters — whatever they may be — don’t seem to be considered relevant, or if so they aren’t mentioned here.

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    • Will has worked tirelessly to care for the marginalized in the community; he deserves the same respect we afford Dr. Breggin.

      I disagree with your support of Frank’s comment- that this post “feels vaguely self-indulgent.” Will emotionally suffers from feeling complicit in working for a counseling company led by someone who denigrated the clientele; he tried to rectify the matter as best he knew how.

      I also believe that the “women involved” are being “elevated” to “clients” rather than “reduced” to clients; the term “client” references the professional relationship and legal obligation to provide “professional” care.

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      • I don’t think this “Breggin vs. Will” comparison is apt or relevant. It’s apples and oranges, and this shouldn’t be about personalities. And I don’t see how the issue becomes one of “respect.” (Also I said “vaguely” because I haven’t quite put my finger on it.)

        Whether or not being considered a “client” represents an elevation or reduction of social status (I think it is obviously the latter) the fact remains that the opinions and perspectives of the women involved are apparently not considered relevant, as they are not even mentioned indirectly or in passing.

        I am one of the “marginalized in the community” btw, and if I needed a spokesperson it would be someone with a clear analysis of capitalism and psychiatry, as well as social work and the other so-called “caring” fields which operate to serve its interests.

        the term “client” references the professional relationship and legal obligation to provide “professional” care

        The fact that you put these words in quotes indicates that you are also aware that they are specious terms which create artificial distinctions between human beings.

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        • I agree that this should not be about personalities and that Will could improve his “‘therapeutic’ skills” with more insight into psychiatry, but I sought more sensitivity to what I perceived as an expression of deep emotional suffering from a person working hard to do right by others.

          I thought that the term “patient” was the worse term because it implied a business relationship based on medical science. I thought that “client” referenced the fact that counselors/therapists have a fiduciary (business) duty to people that they “counsel.” I assume that you dislike the term “client” because it implies a balanced relationship when many (most?) people do not voluntarily seek counseling (and fewer are treated with the respect that “clients” are due and generally are afforded). I believe that I used the term properly in the above context but agree that it hardly applies to most situations as counselors/therapists rarely respect the business relationship. What is your preferred term to reference those in “counseling/therapy”?

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          • I leave that to those who practice it, I’m not going to validate it by making suggestions as to how it’s “done better.”

            Even the very best “psychotherapy” remains a dialogue or at least an interaction between two human beings. I’m not even sure what a “professional” characteristic is supposed to be, but one of them involves turning the “client” into someone to be held at arm’s length. While this sometimes may be part of the “ground rules” to which both parties agree, it is in every case an alienated interaction by definition, a sort of game. And as Eric Berne wrote in “Games People Play,” the first rule of any such game is that no one may acknowledge that a game is being played.

            So my concern is no so much with terminology but with the fact that such “professional-client” interactions are inherent aspects of the alienation of human relationships under capitalism, in the current age neoliberalism. So they are bound to be fraught with contradiction, and human characteristics are bound to escape the artifice.

            In general I don’t believe answers to the collective problems we face will be found via millions of people participating in individual counseling, even if it is “socially aware.” Such alienated interactions may, and sometimes do, help some individuals sort their issues out in a way that frees up their energy and ability to join everyone else in displacing the system that created these personal traumas in the first place, and constructing a new paradigm which serves human needs and interests. But expecting counseling or “therapy” of any sort to make one happy and free, and devoid of social responsibility, is not only illusory but selfish.

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      • I think it took courage to write this, and that it raises a vitally important issue for professionals, one which ultimately drove me away from the field: even if an individual can do good work with individuals, does participation in the system convey tacit approval of the “status quo” ideas of chemical imbalances, subjective pseudo-medical “diagnoses,” and paternalistic force applied to “noncompliant patients?”

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        • People need to re-learn the very natural functions of being human, which includes supporting one another. Others can help, and we can help each other, but human-ness needs to be understood as something that exists as a matter of course, not as the result of “professional” expertise. Nor is it an “alternative to psychiatry.” Maybe those who clamor for prostitution to be criminalized should extend that logic to those who charge money for non-sexual emotional support as well (just to make the logic consistent).

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          • I, personally, never thought it was fair that people can’t make a buck charging for their bodies- whether that means providing sexual favors, or a kidney, excess skin, or hunk of liver. Everybody in the organ donation profits from it except the donor- how is that ok??

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          • It’s kind of the ultimate application of the profit motive. But it also shows that the profit motive is ultimately degrading, reducing even our own bodies to mere commodities to be bought and sold. No one should be reduced to the point that they are forced to do this. Those who genuinely choose to do this is a different issue, but let’s be honest, the vast majority of prostitutes are not in it because they think it’s a fun way to make a few extra bucks.

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          • I have known revolutionary prostitutes (as friends) who insisted that they enjoyed this, relatively speaking, and didn’t try to euphemize it by calling it “sex work.” Nor did they work for pimps. Unfortunately for the standard analysis, I’m not talking about self-despising doormats, but women — one in particular — who were more spiritually liberated and politically conscious than most liberal feminists. So far be it for me to go the route of branding women who choose to get by like this as automatically embracing internalized misogyny. What’s hard to do is to find a clear moral line between prostitution and other oppressive activities which are engaged in, not out of love or passion, but to make a buck. This certainly includes engaging in consensual “support” or “caring” activities undertaken not primarily out of love or concern for someone in one’s life, but to make money from random strangers.

            I’m not “shaming” any of the above, but yeah, let’s be consistent.

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          • I don’t disagree with you. For one thing, there is no way anyone can determine which “professionals” can help you re-learn these functions and which will drive you further into the “pit of despair.” (Sorry, I’m just running the Princess Bride lines today!) So what’s the point of having a “profession” where being a “professional” provides no guidance as to what the professional is able to provide?

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          • Oldhead said: ” So far be it for me to go the route of branding women who choose to get by like this as automatically embracing internalized misogyny.”

            Does that mean that one needs a vagina to really know what misogyny is?

            Prostitution in today’s world is a commodity relationship, and it is inherently oppressive.

            Prostitutes are the “victims” in these relationships and should never be criminalized for their behavior.

            And yes, in a truly revolutionary society when all commodity relationships are gradually eliminated, prostitution will be outlawed.

            Anyone who defends prostitution, doesn’t yet understand what prostitution really is, and does not understand the harm it does to women (and also to those men forced into carrying out this commodity relationship).


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          • Talk it over with Lavender. Yes, I think she’s far more qualified than I to continue this line of inquiry. And more entitled to a vote in the matter than either of us.

            Women are the only humans who can experience misogyny, not just “understand” it intellectually or empathize with it. The same applies to psychiatric inmates and survivors in terms of “sanism.”

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          • Richard,
            Like oldhead, I also have had friends who are strong, proud feminists who have chosen to provide sexual services of various sorts for money. They do not resemble any of your projections. There were no ‘pimps’ involved, nor did they feel exploited or denigrated. The sex work they engage in is not “inherently oppressive;” in fact, they’d say it was liberating. The services they provide are valuable, both monetarily and personally. These women are talented, and like other talented professionals, enjoy their work. Why should they be deprived of this choice?

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          • For my part I was thinking about the kind we hear about most often where underage girls/boys are farmed out by pimps who take all their earnings. The kind called sex trafficking similar to slavery rather than voluntary.

            As far as “therapy” goes I’m not opposed to it either. But it should be voluntary. A lot of today’s counselors aren’t paid directly by the consumed but the state pays them (sometimes) for coercing people to visit them. They can no more be said to work FOR the “client” than a prison guard or jailer works FOR the imprisoned.

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          • Lavender,

            It’s a subject that deserves more analysis for sure. I’m not even claiming that prostitution is not degrading, or that the majority of women who engage in it feel good about it. In fact I share the distaste of many radical feminists who oppose the normalization of what IS in most cases sexist exploitation by calling it “sex work.” However there’s a difference between slamming prostitution as an institution and pontificating over what individual women may “choose” to do for sustenance, or even for petty cash. (I use “choose” in a relative sense, since generally ALL the “choices” suck.)

            “When they’ve tortured and scared you for 20-odd years
            Then they expect you to ‘pick a career’
            When you can’t really function you’re so full of fear…”

            — J.L. (playing in my head)

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        • A lot of today’s counselors aren’t paid directly by the consumed but the state pays them (sometimes) for coercing people to visit them. They can no more be said to work FOR the “client” than a prison guard or jailer works FOR the imprisoned.


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  4. Psychiatry and the mental health system are failing, but they are also just sets of human relationships, relationships we are also part of.

    Oh if it were only true. Psychiatry is not a “set of human relationships,” it is a tool to enforce the domination of one class of people over another (there aren’t that many different ways to say this).

    And by no means is it failing, it is accomplishing its purpose — the subjugation of potential dissidents in self-managed prisons of guilt and shame — more effectively, and with more victims, than ever. This is what we should be fighting.

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    • And without a doubt survivors, psychiatric survivors, do it to mental health professionals.

      This is shaming of survivors.

      Maybe we can bear the shame, and the scrutiny, of admitting that it is “our side” that is also part of the problem, that we are dangerously also part of “the system.”

      OK I missed these bits the first time around. This is not not criticism/self-criticism, it is self-flagellation and blaming the victim, in this case us. Survivors have every right to our rage at “mental health” professionals and capitalism in general. And except for those of us who own factories or manage hedge funds we are NOT “part of the system” in any other sense than that in which Untouchables are part of the caste system, i.e. serving as its doormats.

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      • I think I get your point, OH, but I also think you may be misunderstanding – either that, or I am.
        In another conversation I mentioned non-violent resistance but was then unable to access my computer to explain while the conversation was current. What I was talking about then is a new type of activism. It acknowledges the fact that we no longer live in anything even vaguely democratic, and also that the institutions that we oppose are authoritarian and therefore not amenable to reason.

        In our post-democracies even a sizable majority of the population cannot bring about change by dissent alone – civil disobedience and disrupting actions are needed. At the same time non-violent movements actively try to create amongst themselves the kind of supportive, non-coercive and horizontal relationships and communities that they envisage in a post-change world. None of this is easy. It requires challenging the foundations of the problems of the current interpersonal mess that we’ve all been encultured with – all of us!

        I’m old enough to have seen the phenomenon of ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’ (usually slightly less odious at first), happen after change has been brought about, over and over again. They become more a changing of the guards than the fundamental change that was longed and fought for.

        I believe we should invest more effort in changing our own settings in creating the communities amongst ourselves that we wish for so that real change might actually follow from resistance.

        Of course the power and responsibility for current abusive and oppressive realities doesn’t rest equally between oppressor and the oppressed. Taking responsibility for challenging the oppressor within is about caring for each other now and creating something better for the future.

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        • Keep in mind that I only challenge things the statements you make that I don’t necessarily support, and that much of your perspective resonates with me. That said,

          At the same time non-violent movements actively try to create amongst themselves the kind of supportive, non-coercive and horizontal relationships and communities that they envisage in a post-change world.

          Your insisting on the term “non-violent” carries an implication of “movements” being violent, otherwise it wouldn’t need to be specified. And while people can attempt to develop the sorts of communal attitudes which would accompany a revolutionary society, until the material reality supports this we will be confined to a primarily individualist, nuclear family oriented social structure which is oppressive by nature, at least at this point in history.

          The “new boss/old boss” meme is generally used to argue against revolution, and is usually a simplistic reduction of any given situation; some specific examples of what you mean would be helpful.

          Taking responsibility for challenging the oppressor within is about caring for each other now and creating something better for the future.

          If we did that the whole issue of “professionalism” would be moot. But the future is an illusion. Be here now. 🙂

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          • Hi OH,

            The present is a super-humid day, cleaning up while listening to Wall of Voodoo as loud as the speakers will go and feeling pretty good. The present is taking care of itself. I hope you are feeling good in your part of the world.

            The movement I’m talking about is about the only thing around these parts which is led and organised by young people. I just turn up when and where.

            It’s different in the way they organise themselves and just getting started. I hope it continues and gets stronger. I think the nonviolent tag isn’t meant to imply that other things are or have been violent, just to emphasise a philosophy and to make sure that those words are always associated with actions since civil disobedience tactics are usually central.

            It seems to be growing out of a new kind of anarchism combined with a new kind of pacifism in response to climate change and everything that goes with it. It seems to me to be a much less-naïve version of anarchy/pacifism. Most are also working on finding small-scale alternatives to capitalism and building on them (sound familiar?) but this time with more self-awareness I hope.
            Time will tell.

            I hear what you say about material reality. That is what is being challenged.

            As for meet the new boss…. that would probably lead even further away from the post. Maybe another post?

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          • OK are you ready for the part where violence is unleashed against you without provocation (other than being effective)? Actually I don’t know what you are talking about specifically but that’s ok.

            There are no true “small scale alternatives to capitalism” possible until capitalism is eliminated, only what capitalism permits. But I don’t want to spoil things for you, maybe you should be surprised. Not that I’m happy about the situation. But anarchism is a dead end from all I’ve ever seen. Unless you need some windows broken or buildings tagged. 🙁

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          • Quote:
            “OK are you ready for the part where violence is unleashed against you without provocation (other than being effective)? ”

            Expecting it and training for it, Oldhead.
            I haven’t had anything to do with organising these actions, but I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen.

            “There are no true “small scale alternatives to capitalism” possible until capitalism is eliminated, only what capitalism permits. But I don’t want to spoil things for you, maybe you should be surprised. Not that I’m happy about the situation.”

            Maybe things are different now in that almost everyone knows we need to grow food locally, learn how to fix and make essential items, re-learn old skills, build communities, etc,…
            Because – global crisis. I’m never quite sure not living in the US – is climate change and its consequences not accepted as fact by most in the US?

            “But anarchism is a dead end from all I’ve ever seen. Unless you need some windows broken or buildings tagged”

            I would have agreed with you, but this does seem to be a different beast.


            edited to add the link above for the kinds of resistance tactics that are being used

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      • If we have left the system how can we be part of it? I’m a survivor–not a user or “consumer” any longer. I’m struggling to forgive those who damaged me with mind games, defaming me to my loved ones, and tricking me into dangerous addictive drugs I never would have taken if they’d been truthful.

        I left an abusive boyfriend who threatened my family. I forgave him. I pity him and hope he can get over his issues. But our relationship is through. The same applies to psych workers.

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    • Yes, it’s what we should be fighting.
      But the roadmap is less than clear, when one side has all the pedigrees, cash, advertising budget, and weapons, er, drugs on its side.
      And, on the “other” side, people who nitpick at each other, ripping their arguments apart, on a regular basis.
      As for whether “mental health therapists”, whatever their self description, should be all castigated and thrown in a basket called deplorable – in a time of fewer and fewer jobs available, what could they do instead?

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      • And, on the “other” side, people who nitpick at each other, ripping their arguments apart, on a regular basis.

        What you call “nitpicking” is exactly what we SHOULD be doing at this stage. We all need to learn to waste every argument the opposition tries to use to undermine us, and many of these arguments are reflected in our “own” beliefs. We should all be attempting to root out the enemy within, and helping each other see our blind spots and inconsistencies before they are exploited by the “enemy.” We can’t rely on “leaders”; all of us should be capable of holding their own in a debate, and more.

        in a time of fewer and fewer jobs available, what could they do instead?

        Is that really our concern? (Though as Rachel alluded to there may be more openings for prison guards as the general situation declines.)

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        • Thanks for your response to my admittedly provacative post. If I seem impatient as to how to defeat the enemy, it is because there are already two gone (killed by psychiatry’s “ministrations”) in my immediate family and I’ve about exhausted myself from my own efforts in the “fight”.
          As for the remark about jobs, it is quite a question – when one looks at our planet in crisis, de-growth makes a heck of a lot more sense than creating ever growing mountains of stuff – hence, if followed, a big risk for jobs. I guess it’s a topic for somewhere else – though it was triggered by Will’s comment about his city in flames.

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          • Hi, I took your “jobs” comment with the requisite sense of irony.

            Anyway, I know you’re a “comrade,” and also get that you were trying to criticize unnecessary negativity in discussions among those who should be united. I was taking the “yang” perspective to your “yin.” (Although some consider things I say “extreme,” if you pay attention you’ll notice that I’m always trying to achieve some sort of balance, though not always in the sense many recognize as such.)

            To continue with my original thought, I often see intra-survivor disputes on MIA and elsewhere as sparring matches between friends who are sharpening our intellectual skills for the “big fight.”

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          • Yes – important to sharpen one’s skills for the “big fight”. As for the big fight itself, I guess the actual strategy discussions are taking place behind closed doors, not in this public space?
            One area that could use some attention is how to get “good guy” websites to pop up when one googles “mental health help” or some such in a particular city. It’s the NAMI and standard pharma-based stuff that pops up first. If anything else at all, such as “Rethinking Psychiatry”, it’s way, way down on the list. Perhaps there’s a tech wizard among the group that could look into the ins and outs of this.
            Be it yin or yang, “they” have all the power, all the cash, all the influence. So wily skills are called for.

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          • Hmm. Part of that is that the answer is not “alternative services,” so just having people contacting you when they’re looking for “treatment” will just put you in the position of feeling compelled to nurse the personal problems of a zillion people with no real analysis of psychiatry or interest in confronting it. The AP movement as I conceive it should not be an alternative “service industry.” Even “support groups” for random people who call themselves “survivors” to me reflect the same alienated “expert/consumer” paradigm as the “mental health” industry.

            Many people think that abolishing psychiatry must involve replacing it with “something better,” which I consider to be missing the point. We should be focused on exposing and defeating it, and along with it the notion of “support” as consisting of people and places to “go to”, rather than it just being part of what people do as human beings.

            So anyway, just wondering — have you personally reached the full-fledged anti-psychiatry stage or do you still believe it can be reformed?

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          • With all respect, OH, not everyone’s experience with psychiatry is the same as yours. I’m not saying psychiatry meets legitimate needs; rather there are legitimate needs people seek out psychiatric “help” for and wind up worse off than ever.

            From what you have said, I think you had a “bad trip” and got locked up for that when all you needed to do was ride it out.

            But there are others like me who were depressed and anxious. Often the SSRI made them label us incurably evil deviants. (A shell and nut game. Ha ha! You wouldn’t have gone crazy on that life saving medicine if you weren’t EVIIILLLL to begin with.)

            Still others were freaking out in extreme states and bothering family members who worried at the ravings of their loved ones. Yes, we know drugs ruin all chance for full recovery but they see the tranquilizing effect sometimes produced and imagine it proves they’re being “helped.”

            A few are dangerous, eccentric criminals. For this last category we have the penal system of course.

            All the first three groups need places to crash while they get their heads together. The third and–maybe second group–need moral support. I realize psychiatry does exactly the opposite–alienating those around you, ruining your ability to think straight. But people think they’ll get help there. Or they wouldn’t go voluntarily. Many do–including those in extreme states.

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          • “Crash pads” for “getting heads together”, sure, that’s one way to look at it. Unfortunately, that’s not what you get. Mostly, people “wind up getting worse” because “treatment” is based on false premises, mainly that there is some kind of disease at work on the subject. Psychiatric intervention, like military intervention, is a hostile act. I think people would be better off without the “mental health” system all the way round. Abolish forced psychiatry however, and the only complaints would be coming from people who did “seek” “help”. I’d like to remind you that some of us were prisoners of the system, and not its welcome guests. Ending the “insanity defense” would close one loophole in accountability here while ending forced treatment would close the other. Then, if you’ve got complaints, in the final analysis, you’ve only got yourself to blame for them. A system that “needs alternatives” to itself is a system we should get rid of. “Alternative medicine” is, generally speaking, a form of quackery, except in psychiatry’s case, where what’s offered as mainstream treatment is quackery.

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          • I agree Frank. What I’m talking about would not be psychiatry but a way people “out of it” could hide till they could think straight again. Not medicine but help. A way of escape from psychiatry if you like.

            I know this is semantics but the underground railroad WAS an alternative to slavery. So we need an alternative to offer those who suffer or psychiatry will devour them.

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          • rather there are legitimate needs people seek out psychiatric “help” for and wind up worse off than ever.

            So where have I ever denied that, Rachel? I thought by now you would understand my analysis better than that. The point is that those legitimate needs never have and never will be served by psychiatry.

            From what you have said, I think you had a “bad trip” and got locked up for that when all you needed to do was ride it out.

            Please don’t ever do that to me, it’s a very dismissive comment based on a few details you may have gleaned about my experience. You have no idea of what I’ve been through. LSD was not responsible for anything except perhaps accentuating the situation, and helping me see through the veneer. “Bad trips” are not delusions, btw, they are based in reality.

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          • The underground railroad IS a way out of the clutches of the loony bin. As for “alternative”, that includes anything and everything but forced treatment. Get rid of the force, and none of it is “alternative” any more. We don’t need any “alternatives” to force, we need to put an end to the use of force instead. Are more options better? Not necessarily, but cultivating a hobby, for instance, is probably preferable to ruminating in a broom closet.

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        • Oldhead – It will be great if/when we reach the happy day that psychiatry and its poisons go the way of the dodo bird. Meanwhile, I fail to understand the logic (if indeed logic is involved) of not supporting the development of non-lethal, non-coercive alternatives. The amount of death and wreckage (addiction, chronicity, ruined physical health) caused by the drugs demands such alternatives, in my humble opinion.

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          • Yes you fail to understand. Do you want “alternative” drugs to help people mask their realities, or “alternative” lies? It’s all based on avoiding reality, and what you actually are saying in effect is more like “Yes, we need to radically restructure society immediately to prevent this immense suffering it causes. But that’s too hard and dangerous and I’m not even going to try, rather I’ll work on ‘alternative’ ways to suppress the pain and rage that will result from ignoring the real problem.” (And wait for the time that it all changes, which will never happen until we make it happen. And so the cycle continues.)

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          • I really get both sides of this, and I don’t think either side is “wrong.” I see the viewpoint that radical change takes a long time, and meanwhile, other people are being damaged. I also get that people (actually MOST people) DO suffer from the negative effects of our bizarre social system, and such people need and deserve all the help they can get.

            On the other hand, I’ve experienced first hand that being a “good player” in a bad system doesn’t really change the system. In fact, participation eventually felt like collusion, tacit acceptance of the system’s legitimacy. I believe we need to come up with new ways to help each other that don’t convey that kind of acceptance, that remains 100% opposed to the dismissive and abusive concepts behind the psychiatric worldview.

            I don’t know the answer, but I think we need both – new ways to help people, and direct resistance to the system aimed not only at dethroning psychiatry, but at addressing the social power imbalances that make psychiatry appear necessary to the general population.

            A tall order, to say the least!

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          • I think your views are clear, I just don’t share them, so if that’s “dismissive,” so be it. I’m also pretty sure you don’t get what I’m saying either, so we could go around endlessly like this.

            There’s nothing wrong with, and nothing at all new about, places where people can go to hang out and commiserate with one another, phone lines they can call, etc. Fine. But whatever you call it these are not “alternatives to psychiatry,” because this is not the purpose or function of psychiatry. Nor do they constitute “fighting psychiatry.” They are separate endeavors, and one need not and should not be contingent upon the other.

            Btw the part in italics was not at all directed at you personally or specifically — it’s something I just finally put my finger on and managed to articulate a little better. Sorry you’re the first person I sprung it on, as it characterizes the attitudes of many people. It’s won’t be the last time you hear me say it though. 🙂

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          • See my post to Rachel.
            I worked in public schools alot – many serve as direct pipelines to getting little children on ADHD drugs. Once, when working in an immigrant school, this sweet little boy who had light in his eyes got put on them and the light went out. Another time a little boy put on the drugs had a seizure. I ultimately put my foot down and said that unless at least three interventions ( move the child’s seat, get a new teacher, etc.) had been tried there would be no referral for “ADHD screening” (the Connors scale). And the referrals trickled down to zero. Such prevention is fine but there must also be some other option for a family, or an individual, who is having a crisis of a “mental health” sort…some option other than drugs that kill and “care” that demeans, degrades, takes away rights, and gives a person a label at a young age – or any age. Not to help develop or support other choices may well be a death sentence for the individual.

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          • Yeah, the option is to treat the kid like a human being. And maybe prosecution for those responsible. And if you had the option of stopping it at all, giving the kid a “3 strikes and you’re out” approach is unconscionable. And you want to blame all this on ME?

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          • @Steve — The other variable to consider is that constantly focusing on mopping up the damage takes energy away from dealing with the source of the problem in the first place, putting such into the realm of the “distant future” and looking at it as something that will “happen,” not something we do. So of people simply keep waiting to see what “happens” they may not be pleasantly surprised.

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          • I think that is a legitimate argument. It is a very real dilemma, and I’ve been on both sides of it, but in the end, I had to get out of the “mental health” system because I felt I was implicitly approving of things that I could not truly support, and in fact found abhorrent.

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  5. This is one of the best blogs I personally believe MiA has ever published. Thank you, Will, for your honesty. It addresses the reality that the number one actual function of today’s “mental health” profession, both the psychologists and psychiatrists, and even the Jungians, whose non DSM belief system I do somewhat agree with, is totally corrupted by greed, power and paternalism, to the point of misogyny, and massive in scope rape cover ups.

    The number one actual function of our “mental health industries” today is covering up rape and abuse of children. And your industries’ goal is to silence the child abuse survivors, and the mothers speaking out for all our children. This is the reality, even according to your industry’s own medical literature.

    It was confessed to me by an ethical pastor in 2011, that the child abuse covering up psychiatric and psychological crimes my family had dealt with were “the dirty little secret of the two original educated professions.” And our society is absolutely dealing with staggering in scope, systemic, crimes against humanity, by the miseducated, DSM deluded, “mental health professionals.”

    And the primary function of the psychological industry has been covering up rape, as well.

    “I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire…”

    Speak the truth, the primary actual function of all the “mental health professions,” historically and still today, is covering up rape of women and children. Rape is a crime. Our society, as a whole, is NOT benefitted by having a group of paternalistic, scientifically fraudulent, iatrogenic illness creating, primarily child abuse covering up, industries. It’s time for our society to rid itself of the rape covering up industries, and start arresting the rapists instead.

    “You’re going to hear me roar…” And “I’m going to set the world on fire…” I absolutely agree, you “are all in this complicity and corruption together. Maybe instead of consulting lawyers and keeping [y]our secrets close, we will meet together and have an honest conversation, looking at all [you] have done wrong, all of us, sharing our shadows, together.”

    The mothers of the abused children say, No more! Raping our children destroys our society, and will destroy humanity. What are you rape cover uppers and profiteers thinking? I understand today’s rape covering up industry is a multibillion dollar, medical/religious “dirty little secret” rape covering up system. But it’s still a rape covering up system, which is illegal. Wake up!

    It’s morally repugnant for a society to have a multibillion dollar, iatrogenic illness creating, child rape covering up, group of “mental health” industries. And you psychological and psychiatric child rape cover uppers have been aiding, abetting, and empowering the child rapists for decades or longer.

    Do you actually believe our society is best ruled by psychopathic, “luciferian pedophiles,” since that’s where our society finds itself now, according to world leaders. The truth of this sad reality, to where your industries’ corruption has brought Western “civilization,” is all over the internet now. We need a return to the rule of law. And this cannot occur, until our force treating “mental health professionals” have their undeserved power, to hold innocent people against their will and poison them with neurotoxic drugs, taken away.

    And as a society, we cannot fix society’s systemic problems, unless we confess that the problems exist. And systemic problems do exist. As Chris Hedges stated, “We now live in a nation where doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the press destroys information, religion destroys morals, and our banks destroy the economy.”

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  6. You have worked tirelessly in support of the marginalized; I am sorry that your work does not give you more comfort. The abuse that you have experienced in your life seems to make you especially sensitive to the emotional suffering of others. This seems to make you an especially good therapist for everyone but yourself; you are not protecting yourself from abuse.

    Abused people often seek pure honesty and fail to notice the standard social practice of criticizing friends and colleagues with a “good cop, bad cop” routine. In other words, when a friend says something objectionable while thinking that you are supportive, people often respond about how others now consider the comment objectionable. This leaves your personal criticism vague while supporting the general criticism of the transgression. “Bold” people may consider this a “weak” approach to conflict resolution but I consider it a communication tool. It is easy to be bold with strangers and others’ companies but difficult to criticize friends and one’s business colleagues.

    Abused people also tend to seek redemption for transgressions through public “confession”; I understand your article to promote this policy. I do not believe that most people are willing to avail themselves of honest confessions; it exposes them to more public ridicule. Most people seek redemption through private acts to protect themselves from criticism. Thus standard “office politics” promotes criticizing colleagues (or the company) in private and complimenting them in public. I believe that your old company feels like it provides the community a valuable service that is compromised by your public criticism; I believe it will focus more on protecting itself than on your criticism.

    I have admired your work for years and am sorry to hear that you are not comforted more from your legacy of “giving.” I contend that all emotions are natural and that the DSM pathologizes the natural emotional suffering of the marginalized; I am sorry that your suffering has been pathologized and that you are sensitive to these false labels. You deserve to be appreciated for your commitment to justice and to live in a world with more justice.

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  7. Will, I loved reading this very long, very thoughtful and discerning piece. It is hard and lovely at the same time. I relate to suddenly realizing that everything, for instance (your director) that once was, is no longer which begs the question of whether or not to take action, right? For me, I took flight and said or shared rarely with the sole exception of other women i trusted to just listen and honor the horrible abuses I experienced several years ago. I said nothing against the Director in question. Nothing. Today we remain in contact and it is with mutual intention to always remain on the side of truth and side with meaningful work over a pissed on poor quality version of it. Life’s too short and Will, I am proud of you. I wish we were nearer physically because I sure would love to just hang out and talk.

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  8. Will, thank you for sharing so honestly and transparently from your perspective, and I very sincerely respect your position and process here. Power dynamics and abuse bring up profoundly strong feelings and interpersonal issues, and can make each of us struggle to one degree or another. You articulate this well.

    I agree that we all play a part in the system we’ve created, one way or another, and we can be complicit with it in the most unconscious and unwitting ways, especially when suddenly thrust into that position. And, where there is money/salary involved, we all know the power of that persuasion. That is the nature of systemic programming, playing on our fears.

    Retaliation from the system only proves its corruption, and does not allow necessary truth to come to light, other than its own shadow which is already quite apparent to most of us. And this is what I, at least, seek in these endeavors–the truth and clarity that will lead to change.

    There are various parts to play in a dysfunctional system. One person, alone, cannot maintain a corrput system, an abuser has to be supported, so they create an enabling support system. Once we awaken to the role we’ve been playing and the implications thereof, that is an opportunity for great introspection, as you are embodying here.

    This is a highly relevant dialogue, imo, given the profoundly corrupt system, on so many levels, we’re talking about here.

    My personal experience comes from another perpsective, having played the role of “victim,” and then calling out power abuse and other potentially highly injurious practices based on power roles, and everyone protects the abuser, making it systemic.

    That experience has set off my own process of emotional journeying and trying to create meaning from it all, while learning quite a bit about how these systems trap and double-bind, completely oblivious to their abusive and injurious natures. Still a work in progress, but more and more clarity comes daily, from which I take my inner guidance based on my own personal truth and values, much like you describe.

    I don’t see anything wrong with consulting lawyers, however. There are tons of legal issues to consider when dealing with systemic power abuse. There are legal aid agencies for low income people, which I used once with success. The legal world is not easy either, but it can provide another perspective and one might just find a broad-minded and courageous attorney with insight and integrity.

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  9. The good in this blog:

    1) The challenging and speaking out against authority and their attempts to cover it up

    2) The recognition that silence in the face of seeing various forms of exploitation and abuses of power can be a dangerous self perpetuating form of complicity in allowing those crimes to continue.

    3) The willingness to be self-critical (and promote the important role of self-criticism in any human rights movement) about one’s complicity in remaining silent, and those times when the author took advantage of certain power differentials and put his own self interests above the possibility of harming more vulnerable people.

    The “bad”, or misguided themes , promoted in this blog:

    1) The multiple references to Jung, and those adherents that follow him, without any critical analysis of Jung and his belief system. Is it any wonder that the director of a program in a school featuring and idealizing Jungian analysis, had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a “client?” As was pointed out in another comment, Jung himself, deeply violated the power differential between himself and a client, and now one of his followers was merely following in the footsteps of his mentor.

    2) NO CLASS ANALYSIS!!!! And no analysis where psychiatry and the Medical Model fits into maintaining and enforcing a class based system.
    Will made the following statements: ” …we all have shadows, we all have blind spots, we are all in this complicity and corruption together.” “… “our side” that is also part of the problem, that we are dangerously also part of “the system.” ”

    This is very dangerous thinking. It is one thing (a very important thing) to see how our thinking and behavior has been influenced, and at times, corrupted by a very oppressive and pervasive system, and yes, we need to criticize it when it happens. HOWEVER, WE ARE NOT ALL THE SAME OR EQUALLY COMPLICIT IN THIS ONGOING OPPRESSION.

    We live in a CLASS SYSTEM where a small minority has complete control of the means of production, distribution of goods and services, and they have control of various police forces and and a military to back up and maintain their power position throughout society. They set up all the rules and continue to enforce them. We should never accept responsibility for this because it only COVERS UP AND PLACES A VAIL OVER THE VERY FACT THAT WE LIVE IN A CLASS SOCIETY.

    This kind of thinking does NOT help people figure out what is really going on in our society and where people should stand up and take decisive and demonstrative action against all forms of oppression.


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  10. I am really surprised that Oldhead and Frank would end up MINIMIZING the harm done by a therapist and/or doctor when they use their power differentials to selfishly sexually exploit a client. This should NEVER be minimized or given ANY form of tacit approval, under ANY circumstances.

    You both have called out (as have I) any, and all, forms of arrogance and power priviledges when it comes to professionals functioning in the “mental health” system. And very often you have done so in your critique of their participation here at MIA, sometimes even mistakenly treating potential friends as if they were an enemy, So, how is it that suddenly the exploitation of a woman in a counseling relationship becomes more vague and confusing when it comes to violating a very emotionally dangerous and loaded power differential?


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    • I see physical harm as more of a problem than any sort psychological innuendo or presumed personal fragility. The power differential nobody is denying, and I’m certainly for doing something about that as it is 100 % behind the totalitarian nature of forced treatment. I just don’t see any virtue, nor power for that matter, in this neutering of the subjects of the therapeutic state. Members of the professional class, and those they are bound to by study, custom, or habit (“provision” or whatever), are not different species, unable to cohabit and breed. Treating them as such is harmful and insulting.

      We were speaking about “love” recently in commentary on a different post by a different author. I certainly was never one to confuse “love” with the “therapeutic” tortures I received, however, I am not ruling out “love” as a matter for discourse. This definitely brings in the question as to motivation when it comes to both professional service provider and his clientele, the service consumer, or user. I don’t know to what island the “lover” has been exiled, in your book, but apparently, you and I are not going there, are we, Richard?

      I simply don’t think the infantilization, de-humanization, and sub-humanization of the “mental patient” by legal and “mental health” authorities very helpful to achieving human rights for the human being in the “mental patient” role, and the loony bin trap. Not all “mental patients” even, would want to be consigned, or condemned even, to screwing only among their own maligned, marginalized, and dis-empowered populations. I have to ask, in some instances here, who is giving and who is taking?

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    • You both have called out (as have I) any, and all, forms of arrogance and power priviledges when it comes to professionals functioning in the “mental health” system.

      I point out what’s in front of me, but not in hopes of “improving” an untenable situation.

      And very often you have done so in your critique of their participation here at MIA, sometimes even mistakenly treating potential friends as if they were an enemy

      A statement which shows that in many ways you have yet to understand what it means to have an anti-psychiatry perspective (such as presuming to define our allies).

      how is it that suddenly the exploitation of a woman in a counseling relationship becomes more vague

      This is generalizing from the specific, which remains hearsay to a great degree. But I’m not playing the game of validating the entire context by picking at anecdotal occurrences (one involving the author), as if correcting a particular behavior makes it ok for the rest to continue unchallenged. If someone is worried about “corruption” they should never have entered the “therapeutic” arena.

      We’re talking primarily about male behavior here, not “therapist” behavior; eliminating the “therapeutic” context would not solve the problem. To me sounds like the guy Will compelled to “out” was a mentalist asshole, and that Will also was an asshole — as a man, not a “counselor” — not because of her age or his “power,” but for using the woman for sex and convenience. This however is not addressed, and I guess we’ll never know how either of the women actually felt, as they are only referred to in the 3rd person. No doubt some will say their actual feelings are secondary, it’s the fact that the “rule book” wasn’t followed, but in other circumstances isn’t such an attitude considered “paternalistic”?

      I’m very “on” to men acting oh-so-conscious of and “sensitive” to sexism as a tactic to bed feminist women, and have watched this for years, so excuse what may seem to be my cynicism regarding male pontification and finger-pointing.

      Anyway, back to Richard, I agree that lack of a class analysis does lead to this sort of individualist morass of mutual blame and guilt when the problem is collective, and at its base includes the notion of “professional” human beings.

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      • Jerks will be jerks. Without the power dynamics the men couldn’t get away with it so readily though.

        Not only does a shrink or counselor have substantial power the consumed lacks, but by virtue of psychiatric labels the victim is stripped of all credibility and has no voice that an employee would have if an employer sexually harassed her.

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      • Oldhead

        You said: “If someone is worried about “corruption” they should never have entered the “therapeutic” arena.”

        Here you are “blaming the victim.” In this case, it is a vulnerable woman seeking help from a professional who has taken an oath to “do no harm,” and this same professional has pledged to never cross these type of boundaries as part of accepting their license to practice. This is all essential in order to create a safe place for someone to possibly get the help they need.

        You said: “We’re talking primarily about male behavior here, not “therapist” behavior; eliminating the “therapeutic” context would not solve the problem.”

        This statement ignores the fact that professionals such as therapists and doctors have a specific code of ethics and consequences for violating them. And sexual boundaries is one code that is clearly necessary, whether or not this person practices inside (or outside) the Medical Model.

        Oldhead, you are still minimizing sexual exploitation here.


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          • Once again you avoid the point AND the self-criticism.

            And yes, as long as professional therapists exist in this world, they must abide by some ethical standards that demand that they “do no harm.”

            And I look forward to the day (and I am working toward that day) when there will be no need or reason for therapists to exist in this world.


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          • One could consider any and all sexual relations as examples of “sexual exploitation”, except for the fact that they aren’t. We hear that a “therapist” claimed to be reprimanded for having had sexual relations with a “client”. We don’t know that he “exploited” her. Such, at any rate, is my interpretation, although perhaps the “director” at this time might have shown better judgment by leaning on his first amendment rights rather than treating Will as if he were a priest in a confession booth. In such situations, the less said, the better, unless one is interested in doing serious damage to one’s career. As for coming clean, if anyone has a lot to come clean about, it’s going to take a whole lot more than a confession.

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      • Reading this over again, when I made the statement that “Will also was an asshole…,” I should have emphasized that I have also been an asshole, as have all men who are honest with themselves. So I’m not pontificating, just trying to give my take on some of the dynamics described. I guess I take for granted that people know I don’t consider myself Will’s moral superior, but only I know that unless I clarify. By no means do I consider myself a role model.

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  11. Will,
    I don’t know whether you wronged the young woman in question by pursuing a romantic/sexual relationship with her, but you certainly wronged her afterward:

    Note how when you spoke with people about this relationship, you get to characterize that as you getting help with self-reflection, yet when she spoke to others about this relationship, you characterize that as “gossip.”

    And you went so far as to tattle to her employer(!), threatening her livelihood in order to silence her. And even in hindsight, you deem that action merely “questionable.” Wow.

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  12. I feel this is a very brave and important piece of work. I am really surprised to hear some call it “self indulgent,” or that sexual indiscretion like sleeping with a client is of little or no importance.

    To me what is powerful about this piece is that it is a transparent effort to heal something that is extremely traumatizing. When I was Mad, I recall having a strong intuition that anyone who got ahead and was powerful was only able to do that because they were corrupt. It is a notion I have learned to let go of and pretend that I don’t believe it, but I have come across little evidence to the contrary. I see a whole lot of things I want no part of and have to accept a lot misconduct by the powerful and choose to pick my battles.

    I am really impressed by this effort and choose not to quibble over words. I applaud an attempt to heal some of this world that is on fire. I think it takes a lot of integrity to be honest about what is happening and to be willing to wound your own reputation and depict yourself in an honest manner in the name of healing. As someone who feels very irrelevant and gossiped about and is never allowed in the tent, I am grateful to any leader who makes the effort to be transparent and work through issues of power and justice in an ethical manner.

    I have been ousted from a job due to what I consider to be an abuse of power and was afraid I would lose my house. But I feel so lucky to even have a house and though I suffered during the extended time of uncertainty am just grateful to have someone tell the truth about corruption that should not be hidden.

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  13. Will Hall I appreciate the help you have given to countless people including me. You may need a sabbatical soon. Or maybe look into a career shift if not change. Your friend Daniel Mackler quit therapy due to burn out. Take care of yourself or you won’t be able to help others. 🙂

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  14. Will, I am grateful for your blog. I think it’s very hard to recognize our own blind spots and even harder to take responsibility for them, openly voice them, and try to change. We’ve all been so shaped by inequality that it’s easy to fall into our own versions of how we’ve been treated. Restoring justice seems more distant as we turn on ourselves. Changing our relationships to power is very hard, and your blog attempts to offer another mirror to reflect and clarify. We must all bear the heat. The voices of those who have not been heard or validated burn with deep intensity. We can all open to our power to contribute to justice. Absorbing shame from our earlier powerlessness, ignorance, or vulnerabilities perpetuates and fossilizes the damage. We all can take individual and communal responsibility for moving towards demystifying power and growing greater justice. I appreciate your demonstrating how this can look, showing the consequences of speaking and not speaking. Witnessing in silence destroys us and erodes possibilities for building a better future.

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  15. Thanks Will for your honest and raw unveiling of all the trauma. Both which you experienced, and which you then gave to a former client. Good on you for being honest about your cohorts’ reaction and your subsequent self-reflection. Your relationship will have hurt her, for sure. I speak as a woman here.

    It’s my reflection, after some very intense family trauma (grief and addiction related), now thankfully over, which was a repeat of my early childhood, but worse, that what we experience we then give to others. Usually unconsciously, because that’s human nature. Rarely intentionally, but when we see the damage WE have done (rather than scapegoating others) it rightly brings us up short, and can tip us into ‘madness’. (Although I don’t like that word!)

    I always challenged the wrong-doers, from when I was very young (4): my dad, teachers, bosses. I had to live with being unpopular, and respected in equal measure. It takes a fierceness and a willingness to sow your own furrow and accepting the loneliness which comes from speaking out. Never shouting though – all done quietly and with the “guy in charge” face to face. My complaints about sexism in the workplace DID help other women, of which I’m proud. I and a small team reported a director for his very drunken behaviour and 3 months later, he left the company. I hope he learnt a lesson. Because I’m gifted with a very powerful voice, I’ve stopped many fights, and calmed down very angry men.

    Would I trade it to fit in with the ‘status quo’ and keep shtum? To have been a more popular woman? No, a thousand times no! Gandhi, King, Mandela, Tutu and Sylvia Pankhurst are my icons, even with their flaws. There are no white men amongst my icons! Too much damage done – I see what you have to trade in order to be part of this incredibly corrupt system: inner integrity.

    I’m a big fan of Carl Jung and remain so, despite what I learnt from comments here. “Dreams and Memories” helped me when I was entering my slow fall into crisis (never medicated, btw, nor went to a ‘shrink’ because I instinctively distrusted them. I hung on until I discovered the Open Dialogue team in the UK, in 2016!!) I also enjoyed “Man and his Symbols.”

    You became yourself, Will, when you wrote this post, in being utterly honest about your faults. Thus, you are more raggedy and utterly human, which is, I believe, the path that anyone in the mental health profession needs to walk and help from: raggedy and utterly human. Or to quote Jung: “there is no coming to consciousness without pain.”

    Namaste, good man.

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        • Well then you are critically misinformed in your beliefs and, while you are engaged in valuable work, I must say your repeating stuff like this before such a wide audience without first having the facts is racist, and very harmful. Black Lives Matter. Maybe — after reading the report from Amnesty International or any of the reams of factual information available — you should read Mumia’s recent book, “Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?” (I have an idea what you’ve been reading so far.)

          Mumia is very Black, which is why I asked Annette (who is white I presume) why Mumia was not listed among the others she considers “icons.”

          You should also check your history — Mandela was not at all committed to so-called non-violence. He was arrested and convicted for transporting weaponry and I believe explosives. The reason he remained in prison for so long is that he courageously REFUSED to renounced armed struggle as a condition of release. Mumia has been imprisoned even longer, and is alive only as the result of practically the entire planet standing up to prevent his execution. But they’re still trying to kill him, most recently by refusing to treat the Hep C he got in prison. He not only needs to be released, we need him on the outside to teach us and help lead us.

          Not trying to get intense on you, but it irks me that with all the pontificating at MIA about racism and “privilege” Mumia is NEVER mentioned. Maybe after he dies everyone will finally start paying attention, that’s the way it seems to work, but it totally sucks.

          Mumia is also innocent of any murder, unlike the cops who bombed the home of Mumia’s MOVE compatriots during the same era, murdering 6 adults, 5 children, and lots of animals. 🙁

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          • Mumia, a reporter and former Black Panther teenage prodigy, was directly threatened by Rizzo at a news conference following the first MOVE confrontation. Rizzo, largely because of MOVE, was gone by the day in 1981 when Mumia was attacked and shot as he ran towards the scene of his brother being beaten by the same cop, who was then shot and killed by the passenger in Mumia’s brother’s car. Who was then found dead 3 years later, handcuffed with a needle in his arm, the same night the cops bombed the second MOVE headquarters, killing 11 MOVE members and torching two blocks.

            I know the case like the back of my hand should anyone have questions. I think it’s a particularly appropriate subject following a blog which concerns itself with speaking out in the face of evil and corruption.

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          • I would pretty much guarantee that “commonly accepted knowledge” about Mumia Abu Jamal and the MOVE incident(s) are quite significant distortions of reality. History is written by the victors, as they say. It was a very ugly time in Philadelphia history, and I am absolutely sure that no one wanted the full story to emerge.

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          • This is truly shocking Steve. I don’t consider you “a” racist, i.e. as a noun, but to tacitly spread such misinformation, knowingly or not, when you have no idea of the circumstances of the case is absolutely a racist thing to do, especially when you’re speaking of Black men in U.S. prisons. And the fact that you would take Wikipedia as a reliable source of info about anything, but especially something like this, is egregious. The capitalist media have been consistent co-conspirators in spreading lies about Mumia, and this has been a major factor in Mumia’s plight, and a learning experience for all who have attempted to educate others.

            So, as an FYI, be aware that in the trial of Mumia’s brother Billy, one of the prostitutes whose false testimony was used to convict Mumia referred to Billy having a passenger in his VW — who turns out to have been Ken Freeman, Billy’s partner in a street vending business. This was apparently a prosecutorial slip-up, which put the lie to police contentions that no one was at the scene but Mumia and his brother. All the other “evidence” was concocted as well, and this should not be at all surprising considering how much they wanted Mumia dead.

            So, I can’t believe you would cooperate in spreading such lies on the basis of Wikipedia; there are SO MANY credible sources if you look in the right places. For a very basic one try the Amnesty International account: There has been much more which has come out in the 20 years since, but this is a good start if you’re really interested in a semblance of truth. For a more recent and personal account of his situation try this Guardian article:

            Why do you think Mumia has been made an honorary citizen of Paris, with a prominent French street named after him, has been supported in dozens of resolutions by international governments, and virtually ignored by U.S. media?

            Anyway hopefully you will now recognize this a blind spot you were unaware of; it’s understandable, given the massive effort by the Fraternal Order of Police and many others to suppress the truth, but hopefully now you will realize you have been duped along with many others in the U.S. I’d been under the impression that you are Canadian, so expected that you would be more informed about this, as are most people outside the U.S. Am I wrong about this?

            Still noting the silence here. Curious, given the theme of the discussion.

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          • I thought that Abu-Jamal was widely heralded for justifiable homicide in response to racist police violence rather than for mistaken identity; I will investigate further.

            I am a US citizen; any specific reason why you considered me to be Canadian?

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          • Don’t know where or how I picked that up, maybe Wikipedia. 🙂 Thanks for clarifying.

            Anyway, that’s what the F.O.P. and others want people to believe is Mumia’s defense. There are indeed many who would have supported him if he had simply been defending his brother from a vicious police assault. But at the time of the killing he was lying in the street with a bullet through his liver and lung (and afterward was beaten within a inch of his life before being taken to the hospital, and stomped some more in the emergency room).

            Anyway you’re not to blame for your misconceptions, as there has been a concerted anti-Mumia propaganda campaign going on forever. The truth will not be found in Wikipedia OR the New York Times, but it’s out there for anyone who wants it.

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  16. Rachel – I am talking about everything that psychiatry’s ministrations (in the form of drugs and ECT) can do, including iatragenic damage. Two in my immediate family are dead from psychiatry’s treatments, while one more is still on psych. drugs….and many more people that I met during years of testifying before FDA committees in Washington – who lost their family members to psych. drugs -continue to grieve, as do I.

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    • Thanks for clarifying, Ebl. My condolences. Obviously you’re not pro psychiatry either.

      I have lost two friends to psychiatric treatments myself. Not suicide influenced by suffering from treatments, but the drugs themselves killed them. A friend of mine left NAMI (family members) after they let her sister be slowly drugged to death at 49. L. wanted to help her beloved sister–not kill her.

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  17. Rachel777 – Yes,” suffering from treatments” is how my two family members died. I was able (with others) to get a warning on the label for the one drug because, of course, the FDA dragged its feet as always. As for not being pro psychiatry, of course I am not. But when the chips are down in a family and they have no knowledge of “the game” at all, what are their options….look online, the first thing that pops up is NAMI. Or the local mental health, or whatever psychiatrist they find in the “phone book”.So I am pro things like Soteria houses to help people get off the drugs, pro macro nutrients if that helps people get off or not get on drugs in the first place, pro Open Dialogue (I think …sounds good, anyway), pro the Voices groups (I think; no personal knowledge), pro art therapy, you name it….Just not coercive and no drugs. And the more publicity there is for and about them, the more there is a chance that that family might – just might – have heard of such options.There is always the danger (Will Hall was alluding to this) that with the rise of such new ways comes the turf battles, especially where there is money involved. Which is why I would never, ever consider (if I were young) going anywhere near being involved in helping others as my job…too close to home, too many trauma bells set off, no stomach for such power games.

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  18. A “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation to be sure; but is it a 50/50 split? Will your soul be better or worse off if you keep silent? Everyone should expect to pay for their own mistakes; and not expect anyone to keep silent on a crime.
    Let the appropriate people know what is happening/happened and unburden your soul. We all carry our own burdens of our history; there is no need to carry the burdens of others’ sins as well. Folks that do carry the knowledge of other peoples “problems” do so at their own mental health risk.
    Tell your internal “chain of command” the story; and tell law enforcement too. Let the abuse charges fall where they may.
    If you choose to remain a complicit enabler; then you are just as bad as the person committing the crime. And like the old show Baretta said – “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time”.

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  19. we are talking about speaking up…
    well I am going to speak up now…
    this anti-psychiatry thing is way wrong…
    you are trying to take down everything …
    the good and the bad…for me I like taking
    my valium when things go haywire..
    and I don’t want to be told how bad that is..
    I have a mental illness….all that talk about
    changing the words is won’t go anywhere…
    you are trying to take down innocent people..
    maybe you ought to take a look at yourselves..

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    • Extremely thought provoking. Thank you for speaking your truth with such power and conviction. Looking at ourselves is never a bad idea, imo.

      When you consider the whole of humanity and each person’s personal experience, these are in no way black & white issues, to say the least. We each have to take care of ourselves our own way. I think these are good personal boundaries to set and respect.

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    • I do look at myself Littleturtle. Which is easier to do off drugs

      Innocent people will be hurt I fear. But this is already happening all the time.

      Accepting that I wasted years of my life and permanently damaged my health because of a hoax was traumatizing.

      I believe Valium helps you feel better. Oldhead and others would say you should be able to take it without a prescription.

      Gandhi knew what he was talking about when he said, “Be the change.”

      I’m curious why having us believe you are incurably “mentally ill” is important to you. I was relieved at the thought I could get better off my drugs. But others feel very differently.

      Would you like to share why you feel this way, Littleturtle?

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        • Benzos are hard to come off of too. Some people never are able to ride out the stress from withdrawals.

          I have friends who choose to remain in the System. I wish they could leave but it’s difficult and dangerous too. If they catch you trying to “escape” they’ll drag you back to the loony bin, drug you more than ever, and attribute your worsened state to decompensation.

          I understand why they choose to remain. It took me 4 years to make a break for it.

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      • Gandhi knew what he was talking about when he said, “Be the change.”

        Gandhi unfortunately didn’t know what he was talking about when he said, “Be the change.” Because he never said it.

        According to Quote Investigator: “Gandhi died in 1948, and the earliest close match known to QI appeared many years later in 1974 within a book chapter written by educator Arleen Lorrance.”

        Arleen Lorrance who? Not quite as sexy but certainly the quote is a world apart from the polticial writings of Ghandhi, who would never have advocated for the individualism that the misquote promotes.

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    • littleturtle

      If I were you (and clearly I am not), I wouldn’t spend much time on these boards. This is not in any way to disparage the views strongly held here (many of which I share, having had two family members killed by psychiatry) but there seems to be little oxygen in the discussion for much else than getting rid of psychiatry; little room for ways to get there, little room for how to educate, or give a hand up, to those who have no knowledge of alternative ways of healing, little nuance at all.

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      • No, bad reply. This person is being defensive, and while coming off as concerned has no comprehension of, at least, what I’m talking about, and has no comprehension of “nuance,” at least as used here. Trying to drive people off of MIA because he can’t handle the subject matter is very selfish. I won’t be responding to his future posts.

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        • Oldhead, you know I agree with you. But I’m not sure this particular battle needs to be fought (or can be won with this approach). Fellow patients will come around or not, but the brainwashed are not the real enemy. Those caught up in the system need gentler handling. Save some of the anger and hostility for the practitioners actively pushing for the tortures like ECT, because they are the ones actively choosing to continue to do harm.

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          • I don’t think you read this person’s statements about his complicity in what I consider psychiatric child abuse. Also note that I reached out positively the first time he reacted to my statements (even referred to him as a “comrade”) but he has been persistent in his hostility.

            Don’t know if he’s a “survivor” or not. At any rate, his call for people to abandon MIA because he doesn’t agree with many of us is inappropriate. Obviously little turtle finds something here valuable, so he shouldn’t be encouraged to leave because someone has a problem with others.

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          • I am struggling to follow this because the comments here don’t post in any logical order and it’s difficult to always determine who is replying to whom.

            I haven’t read the comments about psychiatric child abuse. I have no doubt I’d agree if I had.

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          • kindredspirit – I understand the anger seen here; believe me I have plenty of it myself. But to disparage others – who may still be “struggling in the system” or who aren’t sure what to do or where to turn instead – seems to me to be an appoach that does no good at all.

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          • Tired of this shit. EBL has been consistently antagonistic. I haven’t disparaged anyone, and when this gets deleted I want EBL’s disingenuous and insulting comment deleted too.

            Random people on the internet should not be mistaken for friends. And if “friends” desert you because of an intellectual disagreement they are not friends either.

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          • Posting as moderator:

            I am actually not going to take down any of these posts, even though some might find them offensive, because I want this discussion to be read and thought about and maybe learned from. It is important to note that MIA does not promote or oppose any particular viewpoint on the “MH system” and moderation is not invoked simply because people have differences of opinion regarding what should be done. Some commenters appearing “hostile” toward a VIEWPOINT is part of a discussion board experience. When comments get hostile toward individuals or groups of PEOPLE, that’s when the moderator steps in.

            That being said, it seems kind of destructive to make general criticisms of “MIA” just because the comments don’t reflect what you want said. MIA is a community, and it has its own characteristics, just like any community. Depending on one’s viewpoint, these characteristics may be considered good, bad or indifferent, but the answer if one is not connecting with the community is not to criticize the community to others within the community. It’s either to listen to the viewpoints you’re finding challenging and seeing where those others are coming from, or to choose to spend one’s time elsewhere.

            Some of the comments on this thread are edging toward personal, even though they are couched in general terms. I’d like to see that stop. You can see in the case of MedLawPsych that extremely contrasting opinions are being exchanged in a mostly quite civil manner, so there is no prohibition on expressing opinions not generally agreed upon by the community. However, the community being what it is, one can expect to encounter some strong disagreements if expressing approval of processes or concepts that most people here find objectionable. That’s just human nature.

            There are few places where survivors of the psychiatric system are welcome to express their experiences. While it is by no means perfect, nor is my moderation flawless, it is the priority to allow the widest expression of viewpoints and to recognize that everyone has their own experience. This includes the experience of having seen such horrors perpetrated by psychiatry that one wants to eliminate it from the face of the earth. That some people take that position, and express it passionately, should not be a surprise, nor should it deter others from respectfully expressing their own personal viewpoints, even if they are more “revisionist” positions, or support some things that most people in the community might not support. Just be prepared to defend your position!

            So let’s try to get back to respecting the fact that people have differences of opinions, and try to learn from them instead of getting into attack/counterattack mode. If a comment really does appear offensive, please report it to the moderator, and we will make our best judgment about whether to remove it or ask for it to be edited. But please don’t make comments that are calculated to escalate the conflict. It is that kind of comment that makes people feel unsafe in sharing their experiences, and that’s the opposite of what we really want here.

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          • Sorry, EBL, but I’m with Oldhead on this one. I don’t believe you e been disparaged. I agree with Oldhead’s position that there are already alternatives available for help outside of Psychiatry. They’re regularly posted about on this website in fact.

            I also understand why Steve played devil’s advocate and I follow his logic, but I am with Oldhead that it’s time for real change, and people in positions of authority like teachers such as yourself are on the front lines of that change. I completely understand why Oldhead is upset at your seeming three strikes rule. Now it seems like you’ve also said there are no longer referrals being made, that they trickled down to zero, but you don’t seem willing to make a blanket statement that you no longer refer kids for adhd treatment. I don’t understand your fence sitting position, honestly.

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          • In response to Steve (moderator)

            A very well stated AND appropriate position to take as the moderator here at MIA.

            This is a perfect example where moderator restraint is the best and necessary position to take, while also clarifying the overall expectations for dialogue at MIA.

            Once a process of TOO much moderation begins, then some people will start reporting more and more comments, and expecting them to all be deleted. It then becomes a dangerous and distracting “rabbit hole” of censorship.

            I am very surprised by some of the people who are actually calling for more deletions of certain comments.

            Steve, I highly commend your overall role in this difficult process.

            This makes MIA a great place on the Web to learn and struggle through many different scientific and political concepts and positions. This process is not without some occasional pain and discomfort. But this is how we all grow, and how truth is eventually arrived at somewhere down the road.

            Have a great holiday season!


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      • Activism and healing are different things. I have sought out my own path of inner healing with little or no help from other human beings. (Unfortunately my body got messed up from the physical strain of withdrawal and I’ve been battling infections ever since.)

        We really need a support forum for people leaving psychiatry. Since not everyone at MIA pursues the same goals of activism this is more of a dialogue tool than a place for healing or social activism.

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          • I can’t agree with you completely, ebl. I agree that this forum is not a place for healing. Personally I’ve found it incredibly frustrating too, trying to get people to even be open to the perspective that Psychiatry does a great deal of harm to a great number of people. And most people do not have the time or ambition to even begin to explore the underlying social and economic processes that drive people more and more to professional “help”. So no, this isn’t a place for healing.

            But I also feel that it’s important to keep having these conversations, for those who have been harmed to continue to push back against the practitioners and the family members who see us antipsychiatry activists as a threat to their livelihoods or their control of their loved ones.

            If there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that MIA is never going to be everything to everyone because there are too many different agendas competing – some want to see a better system but don’t have any real ideas for what to do differently, some, like me, want to see Psychiatry fall and for neuropsychiatric illnesses to be treated by medicine and see those simply experiencing distress to receive appropriate caring help from a strong community that doesn’t pathologize their struggles, some think the system is fine as it is or even needs to be strengthened by bringing back institutions.

            It’s hard to keep a cool head under these circumstances. I personally have found the most benefit from privately networking with other activists I’ve met here and I save my energy for when I am able to effectively communicate and stay away when I’m simply hostile.

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          • Kindredspirit – I’m just surprised that there is no moderator here – to edit or delete openly hostile posts. I find it disappointing. That said, I agree that the dialogue is important. The “system” is an entrapping one, and there is way too much death and ruined lives. But, with so much money on the line (BigPharma, BigPsychiatry, BigMentalHealthSystems), it is a powerful force, and it seems a shame to tear down those who want to change it, whatever change means to them, to have a rigid dogma that excludes rather than includes.

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          • Commenting as moderator:

            There most definitely is a moderator here, namely me, and if there is a comment you feel is inappropriately hostile, please hit the “report” button at the bottom of the comment. I moderate about once a day, so there is not a flashing red light that goes off when you report it, but I will get to it within 24 hours or so.

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        • That’s good advice, Rachel. I witnessed a lot of friendships between people disintegrate over the 2016 electoral process and thought the same. It can be difficult to know when to dig in and when to preserve the relationship. I think when people have been as damaged as many commenters here have that they feel an incredible urgency to prevent others from experiencing it and so frustrations mount and tempers flare.

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          • kindredspirit – I have never, nor would I ever, refer a child to get any sort of psych. drugs. It is, and has been the “factory farm – ness” of teachers doing this that I’ve tried to stop. So, no fence sitting. I’ve been in the wars for over fifteen years.

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        • Activism and healing are different things.

          YES! — this is crucial to understand, whatever synonyms you use for “healing,” (i.e. “support,” etc.). They are completely different things, however interrelated.

          People who seriously want to pursue the end of psychiatry need to understand one of the most destructive memes holding many of us back from freely pursuing our goals — the very untrue contention that before we eliminate psychiatry we must have “alternatives.” They are separate pursuits involving different activities. One is not contingent upon the other, and those who continually pose them in opposition do themselves and the movement a disservice.

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          • I think this is an important clarification and deserves emphasis. Other means of dealing with mental/emotional distress aren’t “alternatives” to psychiatry, they are means of dealing with mental/emotional distress. As soon as we call them “alternatives,” we accept the idea that psychiatry is a means of dealing with mental/emotional distress, and that, in fact, it’s the main one and the others are options for those who don’t like the main options offered. Kind of creates an equivalence, rather than observing that a “hearing voices” group is an attempt to provide information and support leading to mental/emotional/spiritual growth, while psychiatry is dedicated to keeping people’s unwanted or inconvenient emotions in check and keeping people from acting in ways inconvenient for the status quo economic/social system. They really have nothing to do with one another, but calling it an “alternative” diminishes it to a second choice in an array which includes psychiatry as the mainstream option.

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          • Psychiatry is the “main”, medical “means” of “dealing” with “mental/emotional distress”; this is harmful since emotional suffering is not a medical problem. An “alternative” to understanding emotional suffering as a medical problem is understanding emotional suffering as a spiritual problem as with “demonic possession.” A more truthful “alternative” to psychiatry and its medical interpretation of emotional suffering is understanding emotional expressions of distress as natural. I think people need to understand this alternative to psychiatry in order to understand psychiatry.

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          • Other means of dealing with mental/emotional distress aren’t “alternatives” to psychiatry, they are means of dealing with mental/emotional distress. As soon as we call them “alternatives,” we accept the idea that psychiatry is a means of dealing with mental/emotional distress, and that, in fact, it’s the main one and the others are options for those who don’t like the main options offered.

            Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner! This is EXACTLY what I mean when I criticize the term “alternatives.”

            I am also on the same page with Steve’s earlier comment — though I would reject the possible implication that people are anti-psychiatry primarily for emotional rather than analytical reasons.

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          • I certainly did not intend to imply that at all. Taking an antipsychicatry viewpoint is 100% supportable by rational arguments, which is something a pro-psychiatry viewpoint can not claim at all, especially since the current model starts off with a huge logical error of not bothering to objectively define what it is they are “treating.”

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    • I understand where you are coming from, littleturtle. There was a long time, over a decade, where I defended the treatments I received as real medicine. At the time I would have been very upset if someone had criticized my treatment regimen. I vigorously defended my disability and my mental illness. So I understand why it’s so very threatening to those who believe that this is real necessary medicine. I hope that if you ever decide that you don’t want to be on the drugs or in treatment that you will receive the same amazing support I had during that transformation.

      Yes, many of us here are extremely hostile toward a system we see as illegitimate and harmful. And sometimes that makes communicating with the “other side” difficult. I wish you the best in your journey.

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  20. there are so many good people here….we have been hurt..hurt badly…
    but I must now speak some truth to power…anti-psychiatry..
    I strongly believe it is too extreme….and like revolts the bad
    may outweigh the good…certain things need to be taken
    down…but why would some want to take ME down…
    there are some here that are very hateful of everything…
    and I don’t like that….we must speak up effectively…and I have a mental illness…
    and I have talked with Robert whitaker…he might agree about anti-psychiatry with me…he is a good guy…

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    • There is no need to worry about a handful of commentators under the line of Mad in America. They are not going to take psychiatry down with pithy words and textual posturing. The majority of people that write articles here are interested in reform. Change is inevitable, and discussions are important to influence that change. What’s important is for as many voices to be heard as possible. There are lots of places on the internet that are pro-psychiatry… and anything even hinting at critique and questioning is abruptly rounded on, and rarely tolerated. And when it is tolerated it tends to be ghettoised.

      The majority of people in the mental health system are like you. They are able to discern that there is a lot of good and a lot that is far from good. There are many excellent people, and many not-so excellent people.

      As far as mental illness goes, it’s an attempt at an explanatory narrative. But by the by, it is only a very weakly evidenced narrative. However, culturally, it is the favoured narrative and all signs are that its massive growth is going to continue and so again, you have no need to worry about people taking your mental illness away from you, if that is the explanatory narrative you wish to invest in, which gives you meaning.

      Additionally, no-one is going to take your drugs from you, if you wish to go on taking them, you are free to go on taking them. Some people — the majority in this place — do not take benefits from drugs or were very harmed by them. If that is not your experience, then you may be one of the lucky ones, and it would seem that again, you are in the majority. Because most people don’t claim to have had bad experiences with drugs and in fact attest to some benefit from them.

      Benzos I agree are handy, if used very sparingly. A lot of people have a hard time on them, and a hard time getting off them. If that isn’t your experience then no-one here has the right to tell you otherwise. Some people do have a habit of contradicting peoples’ personal experiences. It’s uncouth of them, but that is their wont. I wouldn’t take it too seriously. There’s no point.

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    • Oldhead commented above: “Littleturtle has always been a sympathetic participant and I don’t want them to get caught in the crossfire.”

      He does not want to take you down Littleturtle. He hates the System. Not people like you.

      My religion teaches hating people is wrong and I must forgive and love even those who wish me harm. However it’s right for me to escape abusive situations whenever possible. I don’t hate psychiatrists–let alone those who feel they are helping them. (Psychiatry as an institution however….)

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        • There’s no need for Psychiatry to exist as a branch of medicine in order to have the good parts of caring and empathy and (social, emotional, financial, housing, etc) support. Psychiatry is a means of social control, not helping people. Psychiatrists are by and large not therapists. They are not interested in making you feel better about your life. Their only interest is in matching your reported symptoms with drugs.

          When my medical doctor asked about my home life and I told him of abuse at home, his response of putting me on an SSRI, did not help me get out of an abusive situation. It made me manic, and have crazy behavior that made it look to all involved as if my poor husband was having to care for a crazy person instead of causing the crazy. Psychiatry causes enormous levels of social harm. It’s time to do away with it for good.

          None of the good parts of psychiatric care are in any way a product specifically of psychiatry itself.

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          • When a doctor tries inquiring about things which are not related to my presenting problem, I refuse to answer, because “that’s none of your business” is becoming just as important a phrase nowadays as “where is the bathroom?”

            And context is everything. I will never answer an “alcohol screening,” for instance, but if I come in complaining of feeling dizzy, spinning, or woozie-headed I will answer as to whether I have recently consumed alcohol, because it is pertinent to the presenting issue.

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  21. oldhead and steve want to know what are the good parts
    of psychiatry that need to be saved….important question…
    I think right away about the most important part to keep
    and to make sure you are talking about what is TRUE…
    you do not want BIOLOGY to be swept away….I am not
    talking about biology that is not true…I want to see a PEACEFUL
    transition from without and from within…how about that…
    Robert Whitaker has started us on that journey here at MIA..

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  22. I skimmed this article.

    I think it should have stayed as a heart felt conversation over coffee between the author and a mate, not a confessional morality tale where serious abuse by a therapist is mixed with Mr Hall’s, “When I was younger I made a massive mistake, I was a plonker and….”

    I am left wondering if the women concerned read a draft before it was published?

    I want MIA and other media to cover sexual abuse by therapists, and when therapists blame the client that very much deserves investigating and bringing to the attention of the public. I want to read articles about abuse by therapists that cover how serious it is, whether it is endemic and who, these days it tackling it. I especially want to hear the survivors side of the story.

    I do not want such articles dressed up with personal moral quandaries where someone who is saying they made a mistake and may have hurt a women and which the women concerned may read. I am wondering if the women in the story Will Hall has told may not have seen a draft of this article and whether she consented to this article being published? I hope she did. If not this is a serious error of judgement by Will Hall and the MIA editorial team.

    If no consent was given by the women in Will Hall’s story then I think MIA need to review their editorial policies.

    I think Will Hall needs to get some advice on how to publicly address the serious issues around of sexual assault in therapy. If no consent was given by the women in Will Hall’s story he needs to review whatever he learnt about confidentiality and respecting people who he comes into contact with in self help groups and therapy situations and get some advice on how to write about those situations in a way that respects people’s confidentiality, especially if he thinks he may have abused his power in such situation.

    Perhaps I skimmed the article too quickly. If so please correct me.

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    • Mention of rape and abuse below

      I was thinking the same things, particularly wrt the “borderline” patient/client. If she is identifiable, some people (including some with power over her, family, friends, current therapists, etc.) might blame her for it*. Others might refuse to treat her, or treat her with the aim of doing the same thing to her. Just having it brought up in such a public way could be very triggering for her, too.

      As a BPD service-user**, let me point out that many of us struggle because of past sexual trauma(s), often stemming from childhood sexual abuse. Many of us have… different approaches to authority figures, a desperate need for love/care/approval, and a lack of/unclear grasp of boundaries. If one of my counselors/therapists had been sexual with me (before the last 6 years, anyway), I would have let it happen and then suffered horrendously because of it, probably for years.

      *As a certified BPD** S-U I was accused of causing my own rape at one point, as well as of making it up for attention.
      ** I don’t agree with the BPD label, or that the disorder actually exists.

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  23. Hi Will, thanks for the blog.

    I read it, and read comments.
    Reading the article, I see you did something that no psychiatrist would ever do,
    expose yourself.
    Not a bad thing, but yes, it’s the kind of thing people pick apart, just like a shrink does.
    Shrinks are good at hiding stuff, they pretend they have no issues, and maybe they don’t because
    they don’t self examine or doubt.
    Wonderful disposition to have. Never doubt oneself.

    The director who named the client as the problem, same thing, he came to you for therapy….which is
    fine, except he called the woman an azz for screwing with him. I guess the Director also called her an azz when his wife found out.

    I guess it helps to judge nothing and will result in judging thyself less….

    It does sound as if you should focus less on method, maybe just being yourself.

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