How Love Can Reformat Our Lives

Peter Breggin, MD
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Nearly fifty years ago, I first met Ginger as I exited an airplane into the Detroit airport and saw her waiting for me. She was my ride to my hotel. In order to identify herself, she was holding my second novel with the large photo of me on the back over. I did not know that she had already fallen in love with me from the book and the photo.

It was 1972 and I was in Detroit, not as a novelist, but as a psychiatrist and medical expert in one of the most important trials in the history of psychiatry, the famous Kaimowitz case. I was going to testify against psychosurgery experiments at a Michigan state hospital, and the decision of the three-judge panel would ultimately end psychosurgery and lobotomy in state and federal facilities throughout the nation. In the instant I saw Ginger for the first time, I saw only her, and everything about me and the trial faded away. Only twenty years old, she was a vision of intense beauty and spirit, slender with great green eyes and auburn hair.

I fell in love with Ginger, spent five gloriously days with her sandwiched in around the trial, and then returned home. We seemed to understand each other’s thoughts and feelings, and each other’s values and dreams, as no one else had ever done. We not only felt on the same spiritual and intellectual wavelength, we helped to clarify and to advance each other’s thoughts, feelings and hopes. We talked and held hands and felt like we were as physically and spiritually intimate as two people could be.

I was so in love and so filled with hope that I decided there was only one way out—never to see her again!

That’s how frightened I was about loving and losing yet one more time. My unconscious mind was screaming at me, “You think it hurt when you got rejected before? This woman is so wonderful it will destroy you!”

If it had been left up to my overwhelmed heart, I would never have seen Ginger again. Ginger was braver and risked trying to communicate with me, but I was so confused by inner turmoil that I did not respond.

Twelve years later, a mere eyeblink in a love story, all that changed. We miraculously met again. It was entirely unplanned: I was on a media trip from where I lived in the Washington DC area to Los Angeles where, unknown to me, Ginger now lived. In my hotel room I received a phone message from a friend who explained that she had met someone I knew years ago, a woman named Ginger, who would be glad to see me if I had the time.

“My Ginger?” I blurted out aloud to myself and immediately called the number. We got together that day and discovered that we were both recently divorced. We also found that our confidence in ourselves had grown, giving us more trust in our instantly revived love for each other.

Less than two hours after our first meeting in twelve years, I asked Ginger to marry me; and without hesitation, Ginger said yes. We have now been married for thirty-four years—nearly three times that unfortunate twelve-year hiatus. Life, of course, continues to come at us and we in turn continue to take on life, while we mature in our ability to love each other, exceeding anything either of us had ever dared to hope for. We feel surrounded by love in our personal lives and in the reform work we do together in the world.

Experiencing Love

What is this thing we call love that so terrified me?

Love wipes the slate clean. It reformats our lives. It gives us a fresh start.

If we are ready for it, love makes known to us a completely new and higher set of values, aspirations and goals. It can be like magically switching from a muddy old black and white TV screen to high-definition sound and color. Or it can creep up on us with a gradual recognition that we are falling in love with an old friend, but the result is the same—our lives become new and better. Either way, love brings bright and irresistible sources of meaning and joy into our lives.

All this is true not only in romantic love, but in respect to anyone and anything we truly love, from family members and special friends or mentors to heroes we admire and love from a distance. Our love can be for a place or home, for nature, for our work, for art or music, for sports, for country or humanity, and for God. When we love, we change. Through our devotion to someone or something outside ourselves, we engage life in a new and more vitalized and meaningful way.

When we find someone to love or when we find a creative endeavor that we love, we almost inevitably go through a period of fighting against the person we used to be before we found the courage to love. Often, we must overcome our habitual armor, the psychological defenses, the reflexive irritability and anger, the urgent desire to withdraw, the doubts and fears and lack of faith in love and in other people, in life or in a higher power.

In that struggle to throw off or transcend our past, love can help us center our mind and heart as one. Love creates an utter lack of contradiction or opposition between our thoughts and feelings, and between our desires for ourselves and for the one we love. When we allow ourselves to experience love, we are, perhaps for the first time in our lives, free of ambivalence or internal contradictions.

Once we have established a trusting and loving relationship with a person or an endeavor, we can begin to resolve any escalating or threatening conflict by reminding ourselves about our feelings of love and letting ourselves re-experience them. At the moment that our conflict with a loved one seems impossible to resolve, and when we teeter on the edge of outrage or despair, reminding ourselves to revive our love can quickly turn us around.

When we experience love—when the other person seems like a treasure and a gift too good for us to deserve, when the other person’s mere presence brings us joy, when simply thinking of the other makes us happy—we have immersed ourselves in the pure reality of love. In that reality, love can resolve almost any conflict. Work, often very hard work, is required to prevent our inevitable human flaws from undermining or destroying the new and great opportunities in a loving relationship or in our love for any meaningful aspect of life. But the effort required to clear a path for love can become the most worthwhile spiritual exertion of our lives.

Clearing a Path for Love

The love we feel makes us want to nurture the person or activity we love, bringing its interests or needs onto a par with our own, and sometimes ahead of our own. How can we remain mired down in ill-feelings or recriminations, how can we withhold ourselves and remain self-centered, when love commands us to hold another person’s well-being at least on a par with our own?

Love obliterates the familiar limits and restraints within which we and those around us have lived and imagined. In doing so, it produces upheaval in our personal lives, and often in the lives of others. Love can overturn institutions and philosophies and change the course of humanity. This messages lies at the heart of the story of Romeo and Juliet, a conflict between immature and yet intensely loving young people and the prejudices and restraints of their feuding families. Their love and their tragic deaths inspire the uniting of their families.

In the lives of the great reformers and revolutionaries that I admire, from George Washington to Lincoln, from Frederick Douglass to Harriet Tubman, and from Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Jr., love overcame any hate or desires for revenge that these heroes may have harbored toward those whom they confronted or fought. In their striving to bring about a better world, each of them refused to be motivated by rage, hate or revenge against those they opposed in the name of liberty. Each brought a forgiving and loving attitude into their efforts, even while they persisted in risking their lives fighting for freedom. Many attributed their determination to replace hate with love to teachings from the Hebrew and Christian Bibles.

Originally my own reform work was motivated by a tangle of idealism, empathy, and self-centered resentment and anger over the injustices in life. The resentment and anger part exhausted me and sometimes led to bad choices, especially in giving voice to or acting upon the frustration and outrage I felt. I eventually realized that I could only sustain and guide a lifetime of reform work by increasingly turning to empathy and love as my motivation and as my ideal for how to influence other people.

Becoming a Source of Love

From romantic love to idealistic reform work, love has many expressions, but its source is always the same. Love shines from our deepest inner resources, our human core, our essence, our identity, our self, spirit or soul. It’s as if we are endowed with an inner lamp with a transformer that we can turn up and turn down—or shut off completely, ruining our own lives and the lives we touch. We are that source of light; the on/off switch is always in our hands.

We are, at our best, a source of love. At our seemingly worst, we generate hate. But we may be even more lost when we burn out and become indifferent and apathetic. In that bleak state of spiritual inertia, we generate little or nothing of worth. Like black holes in the universe, we can relentlessly draw everyone around us into our abyss.

Yet even in our darkest days there is good reason to hope. The degree of suffering we feel, including our “depression” and resentment, reflects the intensity of our desire for a better life for ourselves and others. If we did not desire and envision something better for ourselves and for the world, something very much better, we would not suffer as deeply as we do from the failures, disappointments, and conflicts in our lives.

On this, the best in religion and science come together—human beings thrive when they feel and act upon love. Charles Darwin, who is often falsely described as a materialist and proponent of determinism, described how we human beings have transcended the limitations of biological evolution and social instincts. Darwin concluded that biological evolution by itself could not have created our understanding of love and our monumental accomplishment in creating the Golden Rule—to do unto others as we would have others do unto us. Those achievements required reason and a spiritual understanding of love.

There is romantic love, which can occur at first sight or with growing familiarity. There is love for children, which can flower in pregnancy and peak when a new mother holds her baby to her breast. There is love of nature, love of music or art, love of our work or creativity, or love of life. There is love of God, the Creator, or whatever force or value we identify as “Greater than Myself.”

Our pets can become our best reminders about the purity of unconditional love without the ambivalences and conditions we humans impose upon it. Our dogs especially express pure joy at the sight of us and pure joy is probably the ultimate expression of love. I have at times defined love as joyful awareness. Love as joyful awareness is perhaps nowhere more fervently and beautifully expressed than in art forms such as drama, poetry, hymns and gospel singing. Art as an expression of love is perhaps unexcelled except perhaps for the joyous cacophony of barking and howling with which our three dogs greeted my wife Ginger today on her return home after only two hours absence.

In my professional life as a psychiatrist, and as a friend and family member, and in respect to myself as well, I have found that even when suffering from the direst emotional reactions, we can begin to recover by remembering that we are or can become a source of love.

Nearly everything we call emotional distress or “psychiatric disorders,” regardless of how severe they are, involve a failure to give and to receive love. Experience teaches me that it is impossible to be loving and crazy at the same moment. It is equally impossible to be grateful and depressed at the same time.

Suffering that seemingly crushes the human spirit usually occurs in reaction to profound trauma, neglect or loss. When we understand what these individuals have endured, often starting in childhood, their suffering in retrospect seems inevitable. But that inevitability does not have to determine the future. I say this about myself and everyone I have known in my life and work: No matter how overwhelmed and desperate we feel, recovery and growth depend on becoming open to loving and being loved, and seeming miracles occur when individuals change their life in recognition of these truths.

Something Greater than Ourselves?

Ever since high school, I had been a proud agnostic. Many years later, when I had been in practice for at least a decade, a client asked me if I knew anything about God. Being still agnostic at the time, all I could do was quip about God, “I know it isn’t me.” My client smiled warmly and said, “Peter, that’s a good beginning.”

The renewal of my spiritual life escalated when I met Ginger again and this time found the courage to act on my love for her. Since then, Ginger and I have experienced that loving and being loved continually inspires us with a belief in something greater than ourselves. Love can lift people out of their preoccupation with bodies and material existence onto a joyful spiritual plane. Whether we believe in evolution or in God as the ultimate source of our human nature, when we love, we feel most happily in touch with ourselves and with the best that life can offer.

Love is our soul’s joyful engagement with life and love in its essence is entirely good. Love can feel ecstatic or euphoric, exciting and adventuresome. It can feel joyful and happy. It can feel safe and secure—like coming home after trying times or finding the meaning of life.

Although we often seem to get confused about it, love itself does not make us feel miserable and helpless. Love does not inevitably require suffering and sacrifice, loss and rejection. All the pain and suffering associated with love has to do with its inhibition, perversion and loss, and all the conflict it inevitably arouses in our conflicted minds. Love itself makes all things endurable and all hopes possible.

We can triumph over our legacy of negative emotions in order to become free to love. A key is our willingness and determination never to give up on love despite even catastrophic threats and losses. When in touch with ourselves as a source of love, we can maintain the rationality and moral strength to manage our lives through the greatest challenges.

Having lived more than eight decades on this Earth and having been through despair in most of its manifestations, I have this to recommend: Dare to recognize love. Dare to give and receive love. Then do the work required to build loving relationships and a life based on mutual respect, reason, and sound ethical behavior. Let your purposes and your life be infused with love.

187 COMMENTS

  1. A lovely blog about the importance of love, Peter. And I do agree, love and mutually respectful treatment of others is imperative. I just wish those in your field were wise enough to “build loving relationships and a life based on mutual respect, reason, and sound ethical behavior.” Unfortunately, I found “mental health professionals” to be people who behave in 100% the opposite manner.

    • This is very true. The profession has meant tricking, coercion, conspiracy, etc. to me. When psychiatrists are talking about love, they must be joking; because that has never been my experience.

      The condemned man is not feeling loved. He is feeling hated on. He is feeling conspired against. He is feeling lies from family and friends who called him “sensitive”. The truth was that they people condemning him were over-sensitive and misinterpreted his very real teen angst.

      • The psychiatrist never, ever really gets to know his patient, in my experience.
        He doesn’t even want to (because the patient is the condemned man).
        He doesn’t want to know his patient; so of course he doesn’t want to help him either.
        The psychiatrists job is to punish the patient, in my experience.
        That usually involves tricking the patient into taking drugs that are not going to help him…they usually hurt the patient one way or another. Usually the patient will lose self-confidence.

        Abolish psychiatric trickery. Promote restorative justice, especially for juveniles, but for everyone.

    • This whole subject just seems like a joke to people who are being oppressed by psychiatry.
      There is a massive power differential that is obvious to those who are being silenced, drugged, etc.
      To me Dr. Breggin seems to be celebrating his own success, while ignoring the people who are left behind.
      I am saying this in the most polite way I can so that my comments will not be deleted again.
      I do recognize that Dr. Breggin has done a lot to raise awareness about the dangers of the therapeutic state.
      However, this article does not follow in that vein–in fact, it is a mostly strange La La Land article in my opinion. Love is not a realistic solution when your home is being invaded. Love is not a realistic solution when you are being sexually assaulted in your home every night. Love is not a realistic solution when your friends and family have cut you off from all meaningful dialogue.

        • John,
          I share your same frustration, and yet, to be fair I’m sure the more widely known a person is the more emails he or she gets. I can’t even imagine the amount of emails one must get who has a global reach: there’s simply no way they could respond to all of them.

          I have recently been in contact with someone whose reach is pretty large, and I’m blown away that this person has repeatedly written me thoughtful and gracious letters. He is literally the ONLY person I’ve ever contacted to do so. Sometimes it’s almost brought me to tears after a decade of being ignored and belittled in my attempts to change the conversation how we SO’s can get involved in the healing process of our loved ones.

          So I do share your frustration and angst, but I’m not sure how anyone ‘of note’ fixes the issue in the age of email.
          Sam

          • That is not helpful. I realize when people are sincere, usually. And I haven’t seen sincerity from people in power since 1980. I have recognized a pattern of being shut off. This same pattern has appeared even in dissidents like doctor B.

          • No, John, that was definitely NOT my intention. I’m sorry it felt that way to you. I was trying to express empathy, that for most of the last 10 years I have been treated EXACTLY the way you have, and how deeply painful it is to be ignored and blown off and treated like I didn’t matter. I guess I shouldn’t have shared this current experience with you: it wasn’t to make you feel badly, but to express my incredulity that I happened upon one person who treated me differently than the rest.
            Sam

          • Upon further reflection, I think I see why Dr. Breggin is being insensitive on purpose. As I said, he seems to be in La La Land while many others are suffering. I think he is really trying to get to me and tell me that my stupid behavior–a nuisance crime in 1981 was very insensitive. OK, I accept that, and I apologize, again, to everyone I may have offended.

            Stupid juvenile behavior needs restorative justice; because what I did then and what I am getting now is not justice. Dialogue has to happen. When politicians (and prosecutors are politicians) get involved they can pretend that teenage confusion and acting out is a hate crime. That just was not the truth; but no one was interested in the truth.

            There still must be some examination of the TBI from the driveway accident in the summer of 1966 and the gas-lighting I got from my mom. This is being ignored.

            I never had an official diagnosis of brain injury because my parents did not want to be officially negligent in the accident in the driveway at 8550 Keller Road; Cincinnati, OH 45243.

    • A lack of love–e.g., physical, emotional, and sexual abuse–is why most people seek “mental health treatment” in the first place. Love (healthy attachment) is what all humans need to feel “ok” with themselves. Without love, we have nothing.

    • Peter Breggin is a good man, and this is sound advice. The problem, as Oldhead wryly pointed out, is that psychiatry is the antithesis of love. This is not to say that love is not crucial to healing or to living an abundant and fulfilling life. Rather, it is to point out what should be obvious by now. Psychiatry is the polar opposite of God, love, and every good thing.

      Although I agree with the thrust of Breggin’s arguments here and in many of his books, I need to point out the error in this statement:

      “Nearly everything we call emotional distress or ‘psychiatric disorders,’ regardless of how severe they are, involve a failure to give and to receive love.”

      This is simply false. Much of what is called emotional distress or “psychiatric disorders” is provoked directly by psychiatry upon loving and innocent people. Think of all the tender, loving, innocent children whose lives are being destroyed by psychiatry. Think of the loving grandparents who are being drugged into a chemical stupor in rest homes. Think of the millions of other people who give and receive love, and yet their lives are devastated by psychiatric labeling, involuntary incarceration, forced shock and drugging, torture, abuse, and drug-induced suicide. Psychiatry is the CAUSE of these problems.

      Love is the solution, I agree. MLK, jr. took the high road, at least in his rhetoric and his political leadership, in terms of loving his enemies. But truth must always accompany love, otherwise we are left with the empty “altruism” and secular “compassion” that is actually the antithesis of true charity.

      By all means let us love one another. Love begets love. But let’s also tell the truth.

      • Without love, we have nothing….This is saint Paul and this theology not psychology. Many people live beyond theological meaning of love BUT NOT beyond Eros.
        Many psychological archetypes are beyond typical Eros in “theological” meaning. Love belongs to mythical Eros and Eros has got many dimensions. Eros is not only material love (biblical love), it it far more complex than material love like marriage between man and woman. Eros was destroyed by theology and materialism, especially by theology. Imaginal love is also a love.

        ” All impossible love forces upon us a discipline of interiorizing. Anima becomes psyche as the image of the impossibly loved person who tends to represent the daimon that, by inhibiting compulsion, fosters new dimensions of psychic awarness.” James Hillman

        Eros is born of chaos. And Eros is connected with destruction…..You won’t hear that from saint Mark…YOU WILL HEAR ABOUT IT FROM SARAH KANE.

        For us Eros means theological love, material love. Love has got many dimensions, from strictly material to pure psychological. They say that psychological love is something unreal. Well I fell in love many times and it has nothing to do with material relationships or god.

        That is why they invented metal. ; )

        “Without love I would be nothing” . And now people without love in theological meaning, means nothing. Theology is not humane.

      • Psychiatry destroyed all the love in my life. When they labeled me “hard core” my friends shunned me. This was after “psych education” by the way. Telling people “Mental illness is real. They’re crazy and hopeless,” is great at selling (involuntary) “treatment” but it causes ostracism and cruelty.

        My relationship with my mom got really bad. The doctor assured her the “meds” were highly effective and if I acted weird, had seizures, or lazy/apathetic I must not be taking them properly. They made me horribly numb. I felt everyone in the world hated me. I wondered if I had a soul like other people. And all the drugs did was make me hard to live with. I still act stupidly from TBI after going off.

        I may love others but no one will ever love me again. Except my cat.

        I wonder how many other survivors have turned misanthropic. Occasionally I meet people in casual situations but I don’t trust them or share much beyond casual small-talk.

        People aren’t all mean or nasty–just around me and those like me. I bring out the worst in all I meet. Like a curse.

        • Cats are wonderful Rachel. Ya, my ability to love was affected by the drugs for many years. It’s coming back in spurts, but trust remains low because of the years of deceit. Now when someone says that they want to “help” me in any way, I run in the opposite direction. I even had a bad dream last weekend where I was unable to get away from people trying to “help” me. Aaahhh! I am beginning to meet people who I can share love with though.

        • Rachel777,

          I am deeply empathetic to what you are saying.

          I have had to do my share of forgiving with my Mom after NAMI educated and guilted her into having me force treated. I really can’t blame my Mom for being misinformed. She thought she was doing the best for me. Now, NAMI, on the other hand… I have no forgiveness for them or other entities with the same view of things.

          Thank you for sharing your thoughts and some of your personal truth! I truly believe that through our stories we will be able to create a “system” of care that is far from mainstream thought.

          I carry a huge love for all of life on Earth. But, like you, on an individual basis, I could do without many people. The public has been so misinformed by media and stigma that it will be hard to turn around. However, I think it can be done! We are doing it by discussing it.

          Love and tears can heal many things. In addition, animal companions, writing, music and more can help.
          Here’s a music mantra to live by:

          Getting Better / Tesla + Lyrics
          https://youtu.be/oISIMqIBmaQ

          🙂

          I think the key to finding loving friendships may be to find those that are like-minded. So, I guess we are all in the right place.

          Don’t give up on love! First and foremost love and be kind to yourself and those vibes will attract more of the same.

          Sending lots of love and positive vibes to you!
          Peace!

          Jonell <3

          • To expand, I think they both reflect both qualities. Szasz was not simply a Spockian intellectual, if you read some of his less commonly referred to writing I think you’ll see that his was highly upset by and passionately dedicated to fighting psychiatric oppression. (That of course doesn’t mean he was as good a political analyst or organizer as he was at deconstructing psychiatry. We all have our strong & weak points.)

            As for Breggin, I’ve written lots of words in his praise, so I think some honest criticism at times is only appropriate.

          • Who said Breggin was a liar or Szazs cold blooded? Truth and love are actually conjoined twins who’ll die if taken apart. They just emphasize one more than the other.

            Szazs has written some witty stuff on par with Mark Twain. Not a sci fi space alien or android! And the favorite butt of his wit were the quacks who loved to deceive people at the expense of others’ liberty, well-being and life itself.

            Breggin spoke the truth when it got him into trouble. Wish I had read Toxic Psychiatry the year it came out. It could have saved me years of heart ache and misery.

  2. Thank you Peter. Love is powerful! I wonder if some of the people that you have worked with felt “unlovable” due to past experiences and thus their perception was that they could not give or receive love. For some, it may help learn to love yourself first (through actions of self-care and being kind to oneself). Giving/receiving love will follow.

  3. Hi Peter I really like your article and mostly agree with what you are saying but this paragraph is way too much of a generalisation. “Nearly everything we call emotional distress or “psychiatric disorders,” regardless of how severe they are, involve a failure to give and to receive love. Experience teaches me that it is impossible to be loving and crazy at the same moment. It is equally impossible to be grateful and depressed at the same time.”
    You see I believe that I am very able to give and receive love but I can still go crazy. In fact sometimes it is the fear of losing someone we love that can drive me crazy or the inability to love someone I am “supposed” to because they have abused me that screws me up.
    I use the last time I went crazy as an example (which was only August last year). I had shifted house (which was the worse shift I have ever done as far as things going wrong) and about a month earlier had come to the realization that my mother wasn’t going to get better and it was not going to be very long before she died. (she died in December) also the person who abused me (who is a family member) turned up unexpected and my mum was always trying to “make things right” between us. Also whilst I was crazy I was able to give and receive love for the majority of the time although I must admit there was about 24hours when I couldn’t due to being too crazy.
    Interesting though that as I write this it remains about love, just not as simple as giving or receiving it. Certainly being consciously grateful has been my weapon against depression.
    I also wonder if I went crazy then, so that when my mum eventually died I could be there lovingly for my family and embrace the love that surrounds us. The abusive family member I even handled really well during her funeral and internment.
    I also agree with ILNC that loving ourselves really opens the door for giving and receiving love.

    • Withholding love from a child is cruel and harmful control and manipulation, and sadly quite common. Take away love and you’ve got fear and rage from lack of safety and feelings of unworthiness. Connecting with our innate love is healing, and can help to attract loving, heart-based relationships later in life, as opposed to power-based relationships, which is the antithesis of love-based.

  4. Yeah yeah. We don’t need another “enlightened” shrink, we need a fighter against psychiatry, and please spare me all the flowery rhetoric. It’s not one of my favorite concepts, but this to me is truly a form of victim blaming. (Where are Richard and Frank when you need them?)

    Dr. Breggin, still looking forward (hopefully) to more of your expert exposes of drugging and mass shootings. Will your 2nd honeymoon be over soon? Hoping to hear you again on Coast to Coast!

    • I agree with you oldhead, although it must be difficult to deal with the cognitive dissonance of working on the inside of psychiatry. Breggin is a good man, a great man even, and has done much good, and continues to do much good. It is true that only love will persuade. But sometimes tough love is necessary too. The tough love that it is time to offer to psychiatry is the kind of tough love that tells the truth. It is the kind of tough love that is willing to say that the emperor has no clothes, and not to make any excuses for the emperor or the fawning crowd. If we truly wish to love those whose lives are being destroyed by psychiatry, we might start by telling the truth about psychiatry. The most loving thing to do is to abolish the pseudo-scientific system of slavery that is psychiatry.

    • I have a problem with any struggle for justice that ISN”T based upon one’s feeling for his or her fellows. I think there is always a danger of becoming too abstract, too ideological, and essentially too obtuse in one’s way of thinking to see beyond the tip of one’s nose.

      Yes, “tough” “love” is what you get in the “mental health” system, but “tough” “love” can kill you. How could I best put it? Oh, yeah. “Mental health treatment” is no way to treat a friend.

      • “Mental health treatment” is the perfect passive aggressive revenge scheme for that annoying relative you can’t stand. Or maybe you are just jealous of them.

        You can ruin their life and come out smelling like a rose. The Long Suffering Saint. And everyone will tell you how LUCKY the “crazy” relative is to have someone like you in their life.

      • I remember my mom handing me the NAMI magazines after I got out of the Lindner Center. I was bewildered by them for weeks; and I think it took me months before I started to realize that I was a scapegoat.

        That is what can happen to people who grew up being gaslighted by their parents.
        Again, my mom made me write in my autobiography that it was my fault that I got run over in the driveway in 1966. The truth was that I was brain injured and Treon was negligent.

        So, I do not believe in “tough love”; because that to me means Scapegoating.

        • “Tough love” may also mean your friends and relatives being facetious with you in their every interaction. This is extremely tiring; but I know it happens.

          NAMI pretends to stand for parents that “love” their children–but are too embarrassed by them to talk to them anymore (without being facetious). That is not love anymore, in my opinion.

          When restorative justice cannot be considered for juvenile bad behavior, we are left with scapegoating and lifetime ostracizing. There is not much to love about that.

          Love, to me, means forgiveness and dialogue. That is not what I am getting.
          I am getting shut out and ridiculed. That is hatred.

          • Dragon Slayer, above, was referring to prosecuting psychiatrists, and perhaps even forbidding their practice, as “tough love”. I think it kind of a stretch to call that “love”. I was trying to point out that, in many cases, “tough love” is what people think they are showing by admitting people into psychiatric prisons AKA hospitals. To more precisely reword what I said in my earlier comment, the “mental health” system is no way to treat a friend.

            I imagine there is a great deal of acceptance to love. Acceptance that would rule out excluding and ridiculing people.

          • Restorative justice can work. Forgiveness and dialogue can work. The alternative is vindictive, cruel and unusual punishment.

            This is especially important in juveniles cases but it should be used in all cases.

            When no one is willing to listen to a juvenile when they have offended a community, that is not justice. That is scapegoating.
            When it takes decades for the juvenile to even realize that he has been a scapegoat since high school, then the system is broken bc that is not justice.

  5. So nice to read a love story here for a change. I think it a good thing when a little of that victory can rub off on the rest of us. Suppressing emotion, or closing oneself off to it, doesn’t improve one’s take on reality one iota. Being open to experience, and accepting, yes, I’d have to say, there is something to that.

  6. Positive writing about the good that can happen in life can never really be critized in terms of the intent and the experience that allowed good to flow.
    However being this is MIA where folks in the field and front lines on both sides meet and converse it is a bit of a sticky wicket for me and perhaps others.
    Trauma is part of this site and how humans in today’s world try to cope with their own and the meta layers we all live with.
    The most painful part of my life as lived from within the MH system as inpatient and outpatient was the experience of a lack of caritas and agape in the system.
    As terrible as my experience was, I was aware of my family’s live but it was clear they didn’t know WHAT to do and were grasping at the ONLY STRAWS that were available.
    The poly pharmacy and psychotropics or neurotoxins – take your pick
    Blunted and dampened my own emotional self do love for my self and others became an abstract term and life situation. I am never sure if I had ECT but I do have Swiss cheese memory but love because of several treatment professionals and inpatient conditions CUT out love.
    Many many folks on both sides of the MH have trauma in its many forms. One can never forget that male aid my be an abuse survivor possibly with an addiction issue and behind on his rent. He just has the keys and someday or maybe earlier did not.
    The fact that it seems we humans continue on and struggle to either gain or get back the ability to live in all its forms over and over and over again is amazing to me.
    Studies in relegion have shown an interesting connection to how children imagine god to how they see their parents. If one is not exposed to love early on in some way how can one love others in return?
    Then there is Father Zorissima’s sp? quote from “Brothers Karamazov” about love in action which is so vitally needed now.
    “ The Little Prince” and others keep me going in these times.
    It would just be nice to have Peter come down from his perch. When one lives their life sitting on the catbird seat it behooves one to realize we ain’t all sitting there.
    PS Going to grad school there were many shrink wives going back to school so they could join their husband’s practices. They would come to class and talk about not getting the project done because daughter had a baby. Understandable but there is this edge and I have always struggled with their relationship together. Cloe Mendes and Jay Haley or Salvador Minuchin come to mind. One was once married to the other.
    So there is that undercurrent as well. Boundaries even the most well meaning sets off uneasiness in me but I know it happens a lot in private practices. And thereby hangs another tale.

  7. Oh well, guess even Frank doesn’t get why I’m raising the red flags here, still hoping Richard will show up. Glad Dragonslayer understands, as do most of those with whom I correspond offline who no longer consider MIA their priority. I can hear now the simplistic interpretations of my statements bouncing around in many people’s heads (“Look — Oldhead is trashing love!” 🙂 ). But I can’t concern myself with that.

    Accusing people of being responsible for their oppression, whatever form it may take, by being “unable to accept love” is victim blaming of the highest order. Many will rush to insist “that’s not what he’s saying,” but that’s how it comes across. I still think Breggin is conflating his personal life with that of the movement. (Guess we’ll never know as he never responds to comments.)

    • Abuse victims do have a hard time “accepting love” because they can’t trust anyone. Peter Breggin would say deal with them kindly instead of further cruelty and punishment for weakness. All standard “treatments” of psychiatry.

      I know that’s not activism. But this is NOT an anti-psychiatry site for activism or support. So complaining that it isn’t is like finding fault with a grocery store for not selling nails. But produce here and get your nails at the hardware store.

      • Rachel, Peter Breggin and his work stretch back DECADES prior to MIA, so it doesn’t matter where he says things so much as what he says. (These columns also appear in his alerts, on his website and probably elsewhere.)

        Breggin IS and always has been an activist, to the degree any psychiatrist can be, and his work is not defined solely by what he puts on MIA. If he were just another schmaltzy liberal pontificator I wouldn’t have much of a reaction to this article either way. But some people consider him to be anti-psychiatry, so this is the context of my concerns.

        A number of people say Breggin has been becoming increasingly more right-wing over the past several decades (some ascribe this to his reaction to 9/11). So I think I need to speak up here. If anyone sees Richard Lewis posting, please direct him here. And everyone else please don’t waste your time trying to convince me of the power of love, as that’s not what this is about.

        • I don’t think Dr. Breggin’s philosophy of psychological healing has altered with his political leanings. Remember, one of his most famous books (and one that I credit with helping to save my life) is titled “Toxic Psychiatry: Why Therapy, Empathy and LOVE Must Replace the Drugs, Electroshock, and Biochemical Theories of the New Psychiatry.”

          • Yeah but I bet the most essential part of all that, the part that you had never heard before, was the exposure and deconstruction of psychiatric assault by a psychiatrist. That’s the part I’ve been missing in his articles lately, this isn’t the first.

            Regardless, imploring victims of a toxic system to respond with “love” is a pretty simplistic and privileged attitude, and absolutely a form of victim blaming (thanks for validating that KS). Besides, many people thoughout history have had nothing but love in the hearts as they charged into battle.

          • Not unless one has attained a position (i.e. status) does wisdom, in my estimation, edge one towards conservatism. I would think that, to a certain extent anyway, people’s politics reflect their interests. For some it may take longer to attain a position of power however. Wisdom itself need neither be conservative nor liberal, nor even, ahem, radical. The restraining of power that comes with wisdom, I don’t know, you tell me where that falls on the political spectrum.

    • Yeah, OldHead, I’m not knocking love.

      Blaming people for evading responsibility is a very human thing to do. I don’t consider it “victim blaming” to suggest that a person could slough the “victim” role now and then. Not realizing there are other roles in life besides that of “victim”? What can I say? If you don’t choose your fate, you certainly choose how you react to it.

      • Yes, and righteous indignation is good power which does, indeed, fuel change. However, without the balance of love, I don’t know how righteous indignation would not become constant rage, sabotage, and eventual burnout. We need balance for well-being.

        So I think I’d say the converse– that while righteous indignation may be a necessary tool for change, it is not sufficient. Love is *the* essential ingredient for change.

        Just a thought to throw out there…

          • Rage is a reasonable response to the oppression and injustices which plague our families and societies, but I think, in the long run, rage is self-destructive, exactly for the reason which Sandra states below–it eats away at us and affects our lives and health adversely in the long run.

            And also as Sandra says, with which I obviously agree wholeheartely, rage is ultimately a road block to change in its constrictive nature because a shift in consciousness in the collective IS taking place, whether we like it or not. It has to, we’ve hit a wall. People are waking up in droves now, and it will continue. This is new ground.

            The energy of love is a connector for the purpose of creating, and it is expansive and inclusive, not based on division or class or race or gender or nationality or even profession or any role in the world, but is based on pure equality at the core, something we all possess innately, even though some may not be as active in it as others. Still, it is most practical and powerful. Some even say that love is THE most powerful energy in the world/universe.

          • I think sometimes rage is necessary to get out of the less empowering emotions, like fear, grief, and apathy. I personally had to go through a rage “phase” to stop being anxious all the time, and I’ve seen many who do the same.

            Rage has its uses, but it’s not a place I want to get stuck.

          • Well spoken truth, Steve, which is why I said “in the long run.”

            “Rage has its uses, but it’s not a place I want to get stuck.”

            Precisely!

  8. This was a powerful essay. I don’t know if anyone’s noticed the level of deliberately created division in this country, and that something is terribly wrong with our world today. Although many are waking up to this fact. A conscience awareness shift is taking place. But I know when I nurtured my utter hatred and outrage at the mental health field for years it ate at my soul like a rabid virus, blocking a conscious shift from taking place. Whereas ‘knowledge is power’, love is even a greater power. And I’m afraid nothing will ever change in this Twilight Zone world we’re living in if it’s governed by hatred. That only feeds the beast. And it’s so easy to get caught up in the constant (deliberate) division of hating one another for their race, religion, or culture so Peter Breggin gets a great big thank you from me for posting this wonderful essay.

    • Thank you so much for this comment. These are not empty words, but indeed, the very substantial truth and reality of the situation, imo also–

      “A conscience awareness shift is taking place. But I know when I nurtured my utter hatred and outrage at the mental health field for years it ate at my soul like a rabid virus, blocking a conscious shift from taking place. Whereas ‘knowledge is power’, love is even a greater power. And I’m afraid nothing will ever change in this Twilight Zone world we’re living in if it’s governed by hatred. That only feeds the beast.”

      You said it perfectly. And, I’ll add that one way it feeds the beast is that it creates business for it.

      If psychiatry fails because instead of love, empathy, and compassion it dispenses drugs and stigmatizing labels to those who were deprived of unconditional love, then it stands to reason that the more love in the world, the less need for so called “mental health care.” So in essence, love IS anti-psychiatry, in the most powerful and practical sense.

      More love = less fear, less distress, less hopelessness, so therefore less rage and despondence from feelings of powerlessness, leading to more ease, clarity, and loving kindness and co-operation, which is where good progress occurs, just naturally. Who needs a shrink, then?

      Dr. Breggin has tremendous life experience and wisdom. These are healing words he offers, and, I believe, clever guidance. Beautiful legacy 🙂

      Same with your post, Sandra, healing words and wonderful permission.

    • Hi. I remember your article about the side effects….I was so shocked.
      You are a hero, Sandra. We should also remember that love is not a good reason to fight. Anger is, and anger is good. Thanks to anger we want to wake up. And what I have learned already is the fact that no one will love you for telling the truth. That is why victims of the psychiatric dehumanization are invisible. And if someone is broken by the system, he is probably the greatest hero.

    • @Sandra, why are you changing the subject? You’re the only one here talking about hatred. There IS lots of division, that’s how capitalism stays in power, and yes, some of it is being deliberately stoked. We need to sort out the real divisions from the false ones, and especially those which are being opportunistically promoted by faux “progressives” and right wing “Democratic” neoliberals, who suck in idealistic people then disillusion them. And we need to understand that the root of the “love” problem is that capitalism and alienated labor are incompatible with love; too much love is bad for business.

      • “We need to sort out the real divisions from the false ones, and especially those which are being opportunistically promoted by faux “progressives” and right wing “Democratic” neoliberals, who suck in idealistic people then disillusion them.”

        This sounds like “the system” (mh, social services, and tangents) to me. That’s exactly how I would have characterized the voc rehab agency with which I’d been involved as client, then staff, and then EEOC plaintiff. The management here were the most inauthentic and dishonest people I’d ever met, and they totally projected the image you describe, what used to be called “bleeding heart liberals.” In reality, they were social elitists/marginalizers, purely. In other words, total bigots. No love there.

        I won my mediation fairly easily and they showed themselves at the mediation exactly as I had called them out, it was obvious.

        Point being, I think when real and authentic truth (whatever that be in the moment) is closing in and offered sincerely, I believe what is actually true vs. false makes itself quite clear. And as usual, everyone has to decide for themselves what they believe. Although I do agree with you, that there is a lot of inauthenticity to be considered and sorted out, I think that’s part of the challenge here.

  9. With all due respect Dr Breggin, I am not going to address this point by point because I understand that this was written with the best of intentions but I found most of it problematic. I have to say it’s the deepest pile of psychobabble and “change your mind change your life” kind of feel good self help advice that survivors of psychiatric abuse have largely had enough of. I don’t need anyone else to tell me I need an attitude adjustment – just a little more love – or how my own fears or some such are precluding my finding love. However well intentioned, this is so overly simplistic and woo woo it’s hard to believe it was actually presented seriously and wasn’t instead saved for a light hearted Valentine’s Day blog.

    What people really need is for the self help gurus to start passing out actual boots instead of merely suggesting ways to feel better when it’s freezing. Love and mindfulness don’t prevent frostbite. We need fundamental changes at the most basic levels to change a societal structure and economic system that is currently harmful to almost all who participate in it.

    One last note, if we are to receive instruction on how to survive the injustices of the world we live in, in my opinion, it shouldn’t be coming from white male professionals, no matter how well intended. Surely black men and oppressed communities generally are in a better position to speak about how they retain spiritual wholeness and give and receive love whilst living in such an unjust and inequitable world. I just don’t think this is within a successful white male professional’s expertise. However much empathy Dr Breggin has for the psychiatrized, his perspective is still one of privilege and affluence.

    I want to know what drives people like Pam Africa and Mumia Abu Jamal. Now that surely must be love.

  10. I’m sure this is another excellent article by Dr. Breggin, but the title swore me off. Love is a made up word I’ve disabused myself from, both from my end and that of others. Power and wealth are the only two things that are real in this world, love the means to achieve both, save position one’s self to its future procurements. But it is a wonderful illusion (or was it delusion? while it lasted.

  11. There’s an interesting connection between this blog and the previous blog about “madness.” Can’t quite put my finger on it, yet, but I can feel this. Could “madness” be at the other end of the spectrum from love in the continuum of human experience?

    And when I say “love,” I don’t mean one’s relationship life, I just mean loving life in general. That is a feeling much different than resenting life or living in fear, and more strikingly, these seem to at times be at irreconcilable perspectives.

    Really I’m just talking about the general feeling of love for SOMETHING for which one can feel gratitude, and somehow, hopefully get a daily dose of it, to fuel one’s personal growth and evolution. That’s a radical shift in, both, feeling and perspective from those of no love or gratitude, and that can apply to specific experiences as well as the overall experience of life, in general.

    Just thinking out loud, wondering about this. These last couple of blogs have been very thought-provoking. Also, feeling-provoking, which I quite appreciate.

      • I’ve heard this from a lot of sources, and it makes sense to me. Unconditional love trumps fear because when we are connected to our source of love (what some call “inner light”), then we know profound trust in the process of life from a very broad perspective, that goes beyond the intellect. That goes hand in hand in my experience.

        So if that is the case, then perhaps “madness” would be a product of chronic fear? Which can become unbearable after a while, lack of light and joy along with chronic mistrust. That becomes a filter (internalized) and everything can appear to be threatening on some level, until something shfits through a healing process (is how I would put it). I’ve certainly been there, it’s a form of post-traumatic stress from deep betrayal.

        While love does have a feeling associated to it, I see it more as a state of being, which is how I would characterize the experience of “madness,” as I perceive it to be at the moment.

        In feeling terms, the opposite of fear would be joy, imo. Those two definitely cannot exist in the same space. And the feeling of true deep unconditional love certainly is joyous.

        I think it’s human to experience a variety of states of being as we go along. Things change a lot as we get older and integrate our experiences while creating more and more of them. I think “awakening” is not a one-time thing, we awaken to many things as time goes by.

        • Unconditional love trumps fear because as humans/mammals, belonging to a group is one of our most profound biological/psychological needs. The kind of creatures we are are not designed to survive and live on our own. Mammal brains – the “limbic” or second lobe of our three-part brains to develop evolutionarily – function by “resonating” – connecting or interlocking – with other mammal brains. Without that, particularly in the first few years of life when the most brain growth, development and wiring are taking place, things go very wrong. This is why solitary confinement is classified as torture and is known to cause insanity (no doubt, particularly in people who were deprived of secure attachment as children).

          Unconditional, attentive love is a unique relationship that each and every one of us needs to develop healthily. Attachment, which describes a stable, secure and nurturing relationship – particularly of an infant with its primary caregiver(s), which creates lifelong resilience due to the aforementioned brain wiring phase – is one of the key fundamental building blocks of each human life, besides such things as oxygen, nourishment, freedom from physical harm, etc.

          This current technologized culture is largely blind to the mechanism and importance of attachment/love. That is why we see the ravages and injustices that we do – because too many people are being forced to develop without the most essential nourishment for their social-emotional brains. This causes, in addition to all “mental illness” and much physical illness, character issues, lack of empathy, anti-social behavior, etc.

          Also, contrary to current popular ideas, love is not something we can self-generate. Love and attachment refer literally to the connections *between* human beings, and the basis for that is a healthy period of *being on the receiving end* of ample nurturance as a child, which fortifies us with reserves of love that we are then able to give out to others.

          If we were an aware and intelligent society, we would pay much more attention to attachment and solidarity, and support parents in creating a time- and love-rich relationship with their young children to create healthy and pro-social future adults.

          • This is a great and hardy comment, Susannah, and deserves a really good discussion. Lots of truth, and also subtleties which I feel merit mindful exploration.

            While I don’t have a lot of energy today to engage too much here, I did pick out one thing on which I would like to comment because I have thought about this one quite a bit and as of now, this is how I would respond when you say–

            “Love and attachment refer literally to the connections *between* human beings, and the basis for that is a healthy period of *being on the receiving end* of ample nurturance as a child, which fortifies us with reserves of love that we are then able to give out to others.”

            Yes, a healthy dose of unconditional love flowing between child and parent mutually for a good period of time is what we all hope for–consciously, if we are aware adults, and unconsciously, if we are pre-verbal infants. In both cases, this would be the natural human desire.

            In a post above, I say–

            “Withholding love from a child is cruel and harmful control and manipulation, and sadly quite common. Take away love and you’ve got fear and rage from lack of safety and feelings of unworthiness.”

            And it needn’t be conscious of course, as there are so very many reasons why a child becomes deprived of love, and that is enough to create distress along with post-traumatic stress.

            The problem deepens profoundly when the parents or adults around a love-deprived child cannot see that this is the problem, and instead, blame it on something else or even the child–which is kind of undestandable because the alternative to blame is facing oneself squarely with regard to personal growth; but at the same time, humility on the part of the adult would be most valuable here–or a disease or condition or “the world,” or maybe the child simply gets labeled “problem child,” and treated as such, which compounds the issue and neglect turns into blatant abuse, the essence of gaslighting. Any or all of these and more.

            And really, the issue is that this child has been deprived of love. Indeed, that can lead to all sorts of porblems in life, IF IT IS NOT CORRECTED. Being deprived of love as a child can snowball and follow us from one relationship to another, and our relationship with self is ambiguous at best.

            I believe in healing, and I believe in heart healing, so my belief is that this can heal, but how? Perhaps some people do not feel there is healing for this, and I would not argue with that belief. However, that is not me, I believe childhood love-deprivation can heal. But it is really hard work and takes a lot of flexibility in thinking. This is a matter of reprogramming on a neural and cellular level. It is transformational healing.

            I believe there are many roads and options here. What, exactly, would it mean to “correct” this? To me, that is the most important topic to explore, by far, because the answer to this would solve an awful lot of problems in today’s world. This would be the conciousness shift at hand–from love-deprived to love-filled consciousness. These generate two different (and rather divergent, I believe) personal realities, and I think it’s rather palpable, on a feeling level. The contrast is enormous.

          • “…love is not something we can self-generate.”

            This is where I take pause. I’m not so sure about that. I actually feel this statement is a denial of a vital part of who we are, naturally.

            And if it turns out we can, indeed, self-generate love, then it would probably be good to know how to access that. I believe we can. And when we learn this, we learn how to self-heal. We are also wired for that, but it gets knocked out of us by all that fear mongering and social programming, and by those who convince others they NEED them, making people dependent. Obviously, not healthy attachment, but pure co-dependence. No love there.

            That’s one of the main grievances re psychiatry–it abrubtly disrupts our natural healing and personal growth process with a bunch of socially divisive mythology, which is why people tend to get stuck in a “chronically ill” state, and why so many people feel abused by the sytem.

            Self-generated love is, I believe, our nature, and it is our built-in mechanism for self-healing. I say we call it back into being. That would certainly be my preference, in any event.

  12. I usually go with “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything” but I have to agree with Oldhead and KindredSpirit’s comments. It seems a big reason someone might end up having problems with “giving and receiving love” is the result and collateral damage of having endured harmful psychiatric labelling and treatments. Aren’t anti-depressants known for dampening down all a person’s emotions, both the good ones (love) and bad. It is gut wrenching to read the stories of those who have been so harmed by psychiatry and it is clear many are indeed “victims” of psychiatry. It is great if they can find strength, courage and loving support to find their way back to a place of peace and love but am not comfortable with putting the onus on the victim to be the fixer.

  13. My view is that LOVE can heal. Anger and rage can propel us to work for change. ( Hopefully with love in our hearts to avoid hate and war.)

    Is working toward and talking about things to create change for each of us individually just for our own selves or is it also the empathy and love for others in our hearts that also drives us to fight to create change?

    Here are some words of wisdom to live by from Maya Angelou…

    “Use that anger.
    You write it.
    You paint it.
    You dance it.
    You march it.
    You vote it.
    You do everything about it. ”
    — Maya Angelou —

  14. There is a war going on with casualties only on one side ……We are the unorganized deer in the headlights and they are picking us off and they are seen to be rolling back progress that resistance seemed to have gained in the past…..Have they also done something unknown to us that keeps us from being able to work together somehow ? Have they gained so much power that they are immune to any resistance ? Must we now really stand and shout with tears of joy in our eyes , ” I Love You Big Brother ” ? ……until we figure out if we are still able ….. resistance still remains .
    These are just some feelings and thoughts …. I really don’t know what to do while these headlights are shining into my eyes .

  15. Dr. Breggin,

    I cannot understate the role of unconditional love as my wife has healed from early childhood trauma, and yet to say that ‘all you need is love’ (cue the Beatles) would be a vast over simplification. Early childhood trauma, at least in my wife, including neglectful parents and abuse from someone outside the family filled my wife with all kinds of lies that she believed about herself: I’m unlovable, I belong to my abuser; if my own parents don’t love me, how will anyone else; I deserved this, this happened because I’m bad, etc, etc. As well it has kept her brain in trauma mode (hyper-vigilance and fearful) for nearly 50 years. It has taken us more than a decade to unpack each of these lies. I had to be willing to say and do whatever it takes, 100’s of times to help her unlearn those messages and learn new thought patterns. We still don’t have the fear-factor completely turned off, and the issues caused by the dissociation which create neural plasticity issues are labyrinthine to put it mildly. It’s simply not a quick or easy fix that she could ‘choose’ to let love wash away.

    Again, unconditional love is important. My wife had to know that I was in this for the long haul, that I would continue to love her no matter her response or lack of response to me, no matter the hardships we went thru. But it’s the kind of love that is far more than just the giddy feelings of being ‘in love.’ It’s the love that says I will go thru hell with you and back no matter how much we both hurt.
    Yours,
    Sam

    • Sam, this is a most beautiful and heart-warming comment/story. How inspiring to understand and appreciate the impact of past wounds your wife endured and be so determined to have your wife fully realize that she is a wonderful and deserving person. Hats off to you! Probably every woman in the world would want to clone you!

  16. People seek emotional well-being (positive emotions) and avoid emotional suffering (negative emotions). Happiness and confidence are expressions of emotional well-being while sadness and fear are expressions of emotional suffering (and related coping styles deemed disabling). Consistently, common behavior patterns that express emotional suffering are described in categories by the DSM. Loving someone generally promotes emotional well-being for the person being loved; in contrast, psychiatry generally promotes emotional suffering for clients by pathologizing their natural emotional suffering.

  17. I do believe love which exudes happiness is the answer to mental illness. When my son was just 6 months old my husband became redundant and it looked like him getting another job was slim. Having lived in poverty before I became frightened about our precarious future. Then I suffered one of the craziest episodes in my life. I never stopped loving my husband but the love of my new born son and fear of the future made me ill. I believe happiness cures most that ails us and now my son a grown man has experienced a romantic loss and is looking to be admitted to hospital. Any loss can bring about illness. Sometimes Dr Breggin love is not enough as i devotedly love my son but cannot make him well again.

  18. Dr. Breggin thank you for your efforts to help us. Sadly when Toxic Psychiatry came out in 1993 I was already sucked down the psychiatric maelstrom which ruined my life. I never knew the book existed till recently.

    I want to remind readers that while Dr. Breggin is not a survivor, he has nothing to gain by taking our part. It has almost been career suicide. If career advancement and prestige is all he’s after he’s doing it the wrong way. He didn’t have a dog in this fight–but chose to put himself on the line to help folks like us. Remember Oskar Schindler?

    I will always be grateful to you Dr. Breggin. 🙂

  19. Hi john, I was similarly disturbed by Dr Breggin’s fluff piece on love and no it didn’t make sense from a psych survivor perspective. I know he meant well and he is an ally but it’s ok to not like everything someone does or to say you didn’t find the piece helpful.

    In my book, love is overrated and many are unnecessarily hurt by mistaking friendship, loyalty, and companionship for amorous love. They confuse feelings for actions. And then we wonder why love hurts when the actions are incongruent with the feelings we thought were love. It’s a trap. Love comes and goes but a rock solid friendship at the core is the basis for the attachment and security so many in the world are lacking.

    • I had a similar thought. I believe he’s talking about the caretakers in people’s lives starting from a place of love. I say this based on past reading of his works. He’s very big about the adults being responsible for creating a safe and loving environment for their children, and doesn’t think kids should have to worry about taking care of the adults in their lives. By extension, it would make sense that he means that the “mental health professionals,” if that term applies, would have to be loving toward those in their care. I doubt very much that he means that if you meet your psychiatrist with love, that s/he will somehow magically become a good and loving person. We don’t live in fairy tales!

      • Steve,
        Thank you for saying that, because that was how I read the article, as a fairy tale. It just doesn’t make sense to anyone who has felt the coercion of psychiatry.

        Once again, I want to say that I very much admire Dr. B for writing a book with a great title, Your Drug May Be Your Problem. I can see that it took guts to write that book, and to advocate for people who have been spell-bound by the drugs and the doctors.

        So, this recent article was bewildering to me; because it doesn’t seem to make any references to the book or to anyone who has experienced the rug being slipped out from under them.

        It almost seems like he started writing one day, put it down for a week, and started writing again, having forgot what it was supposed to be about.

      • At risk of going on too long on this topic (and I will try to stop after this comment),
        the subtitle could have been Your Lack of Love May Be Your Problem. Well, again that is tough to take for anyone who has experienced psychiatric coercion. We may not be feeling so lovely, mainly because we have been drugged, spell-bound, deceived, conspired against, gas-lighted by our friends and family, etc., etc.

  20. “The fundamental conflicts in human life are not between competing ideas–one of which is true and the other false, but rather, between those that hold power and use it to oppress others, and those who are oppressed by power and seek to free themselves of it.”

    Thomas Szasz quoted in 1972 Women and Madness by Phyllis Chesler

  21. I don’t require compassion coming from any professional because that is what they are a ‘professional’ they are not a family member or in my close social circle. I require knowledge of what I suffer from to a degree that qualifies them to be in a position of authority over my life. Over the many years I have dealt with mental health teams I have found one nurse who remotely covers this in his ability as my carer.

    I have been diagnosed Schizo Affective and am supposed to suffer traits of schizophrenia and bi polar. I am not a naturally violent or aggressive individual but I do fight back when in hospital and forced medication.

    “Female schizophrenics are more openly hostile or violent, or more concerned with sexual and bisexual pleasure, then are female depressives”. Women and Madness Phyllis Chesler

    To compare a schizophrenic with a depressive is not only doing those women an injustice it is like comparing chalk to cheese because what they suffer from is totally different in nature and there is no comparison whatsoever. Since reading Toxic Psychiatry I became angry and yes hostile towards medical staff including my GPs who I feel caused my son to become manic when prescribing him anti depressants. In fact I have watched by helplessly as he has deteriorated and them destroy his life with the result he has very little pleasures and any semblance of a decent lifestyle. They would blame me as an abusive mother and not their treatment and system. I have been no abusive mother and have in fact been a good mother except when I was overcome with the condition which makes my methods in motherhood even more remarkable. However, like all mothers I am blamed.

    As for myself although I get downhearted at times I am not a depressive and I suffer from delusions, psychosis, voices and paranoia although the condition has improved with my age and the fact I have spent 5 years in psychotherapy. I also feel intimidated when threatened and overpowered against my will and as a result I make my anger known to those infringing my human rights. In no way does this make me a violent person. Also I like sex and have not completely lost interest in that department yet unlike someone who is a depressive and loses interest in all things in life. You can’t compare the two like Chesler attempts to do and I can only presume she has never suffered any of the traits she likes to think she is an expert about.

    “It is often asserted that the medieval women accused of witchcraft actually suffered what we now know as hysteria” The Myth of Mental Illness Thomas S Szaz

    It seems to me that in feminism and the psychiatric system the witch hunt is still ongoing as regards women who suffer from the condition I myself suffer from. I do not have to commit any crime for the police to come to my home and break down my front door and physically carry me off to be detained under the mental health act a law made by men I might add. It seems women like myself are still condemned from all quarters and little empathy is given to exactly the situation I find myself in when the condition takes hold.

    Chesler goes on to describe the type of woman I am supposed to be always moaning and complaining and having had a husband who is long suffering as long as the dishes are washed at the end of the day. It couldn’t be further from the truth I am no complainer or moaner and I had a very happy marriage under the circumstances and was responsible for keeping the marriage going so long. I do however become aggressive when deluded and this no way makes me violent because I feel my world turning in on me from all quarters and I tend to wake up for spells of reality and see my life for what it is and it is usually a wake up call. I am happier alone and after 33 years of marriage I realized my husband was a total dependent and I didn’t want to continue the marriage whether one would call that love or not as he became indifferent to me and my son’s suffering just like the mental health teams are except they follow the law of the land and like to exert their authority over someone like me when the condition is full blown and they take it upon themselves to put me away.

    I do not need compassion I need people educated enough to know and put themselves in my position when I am deluded and psychotic and not to treat me with disdain or as someone who is inferior. In fact I myself believe I use more parts of my brain then any normal person which you could say in theory makes me superior.

    I need empathy and people who have been taught enough to relate to my situation when I lose touch with reality. Not the force of an archaic law which in my opinion still believes women like me are witches of one sort or another. I believe while laws are made by men to control and forcibly detain and treat women like myself and while those that fight for women’s rights still condemn those diagnosed schizophrenic and hold them to blame for their behavior then the witch hunt will continue.

    Very little empathy is given to women of my like and very few people can put themselves in my position. I believe I was born with this condition and it is purely biological and the medical profession is archaic and hasn’t moved on for generations as regards mental illness (or whatever description you care to give it). I still think medicine and knowledge of a woman’s biological make up is still in the dark ages and very little scientific studies are given to women and their biology and little is known because medicine is still a man’s domain.

    Although I don’t carry a broom I have two cats and feel most days I am still living in the dark ages where most domains are dominated by men and women like myself are still considered to be the witch who lives on the outskirts of the village and I am an outcast in society which I might add I really don’t wish to belong to in the end.

  22. JohnChristine, thank you for your comments and I am grateful for what you have written. This is about civil rights of both men and women and those vulnerable enough to find themselves in need because of trauma experiences and abuse sometimes from those closest to them in their family circle. This is all about family and close net circles not just society in general. This isn’t about Love. Love comes secondary to control and parents sometimes wish to control their children simply because they can. Dr Breggin has simplified what Love actually is and is in a very privileged position in his life to make choices whether for the benefit of those affected by abuse or not. It seems anyone can write a book and I have proven that myself. As regards helping people that is another question.

    It seems everyone has agendas and to my knowledge there are societies beneath societies and underworlds which psychiatry is one and there is an awful lot of fake news out there. It seems that long ago individuals discovered there was money to be made in psychiatry and the mentally ill and employment where there never used to be employment. It takes a huge industry to cater for people diagnosed mentally ill and so many people benefit and make it their life’s work to gain from others misfortune. People who are diagnosed mentally ill keep not only drug companies wealthy but everyone concerned with people like me. I would say that Breggin lives quite comfortably thank you very much from the books he has published and he has created quite a nice lifestyle for himself out of the mentally ill.

    JohnChristine I ask you to consider whether your voice is being heard in the right media? Whether what you are saying is actually being heard in the right place? Thank you!