Stigma: Mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person (Oxford English Dictionary)
I want to examine the widely-accepted idea that:
“Society’s stigma of the mentally ill is what keeps them from getting the help they need. Mental illness is no more shameful than any other disease, and elimination of such stigma will allow psychiatrists to treat their patients sooner, and greatly improve their prognosis.”
This is my own summary of the dominant attitude in society today, as taught by organized psychiatry and its business partner, pharma, as well as its governmental allies, and transmitted by mainstream media and absorbed by our population. I want to take a critical look at each element of this dogma and make the case that the only chance of successfully combating such propaganda is another campaign, a re-education aimed at our people, from the PhD’s to the plumbers.
I believe that those who understand psychiatry’s self-serving claims and want to be most effective in a campaign of re-education must never lose sight of the critical role of language in the forming of public opinion. I want to use the example of stigma to illustrate the “War of the Words.”
* * *
Every day, each of us is bombarded by words chosen by others, and none of us is able to stop to really evaluate all the words coming in. In our efforts to help more and more people unlearn what psychiatry is teaching, and replace it with something better, we must ourselves be careful about our vocabulary, never calling a drug a “treatment” when no abnormality has been discovered that needs fixing, and never calling memory loss and learning disability from electricity to the brain a “side effect.” The result of electricity to the brain is injury, just as our common sense would tell us.
Another example: While genuine medicine finds the cause of distress or dysfunction and thereby makes a diagnosis and offers treatment, psychiatry regurgitates symptoms, responds with drugs or electricity, calls that “treatment,” and then alleges that whatever short-term change is seen, either tranquilization or signs of acute brain injury, is “improvement” and therefore proof that the disease exists and has “responded.”
One more: …“the pain and suffering of mental distress is as real as the pain and suffering of medical disorder.” No question about that, except that this hardly amounts to support for psychiatry’s claim that mental distress is a sign of disease of the brain.
Most important of all, genuine medical patients are truly free agents, the final arbiters of whether a treatment may be used. It is truly remarkable that the one branch of medicine that is not scientific, psychiatry, is also the one mandated by society to use force on its “patients.”
These are examples of the fundamentals we must teach. Let me now do this with the example of psychiatry and stigma, using my summary dogma above. Let’s re-examine “stigma,” “mentally ill,” “mental illness,” “disease,” “patients,” and “prognosis.”
Persons exhibiting signs of emotional turmoil and disturbing behavior have always been stigmatized. They make us uncomfortable, and their families and loved ones face a particularly difficult dilemma because they are the ones most wanting to help while at the same time being themselves very much in need of relief.
Psychiatry is not responsible for any of this. It comes with being human. We are uncomfortable because mental breakdown can be overwhelming. The threat of suicide is frightening for all concerned, placing grave feelings of responsibility on both the doctor and the family and loved ones.
Societies have always discriminated in a variety of ways, including with the use of physical restraints, against persons exhibiting disturbing emotions or behaviors. Whether such controls on persons who are disturbing but not criminal in their behavior are warranted is not fundamentally a scientific question but one of law and social policy.
This is where society, with psychiatry as its instrument, inflicts the most damaging stigma on the mentally troubled — its insistence on the use of medical doctors to administer a particularly dangerous form of coercion, forced “treatment,” one that puts the individual in a special class of citizenship with less protections, less credibility, less of a lot of things, but with more fear, more isolation, more vulnerability to all kinds of abuse and bodily harm.
I have discussed this on my YouTube channel, but I believe Laura Delano’s YouTube video “The Power of Psychiatric Diagnosis” says it best. Once accepted, a psychiatric “diagnosis” has the power to steal one’s very identity, rob one of hope and initiative, and drain millions of tax dollars from other crucial public services through skyrocketing disability claims.
And what are we to make of state-authorized psychiatric coercion of a designated group, the “dangerous (to self or others) mentally ill” — a category that has no reliable boundaries and is placed under the control of a profession that has no reliable way to determine who is and who isn’t “one of them”?
Because there is no “illness,” no test, no medical indicia, no predictive skills possessed by psychiatry, to scientifically show who is “in” and who is “out” of the category required for forced intervention, simple pronouncement of a purported “diagnosis,” along with another pronouncement of “danger to self or others,” is sufficient. It has been said that “The beautiful thing about psychiatry’s pronouncements is that no one can ever prove them wrong.”
In today’s “mental health system,” psychiatry rules, and legal reviews are window dressing. Judges and juries are simply intimidated by the white coats and the vocabulary. There will always be at least one “diagnosis” but since there is no real “illness,” only symptoms lumped together and placed in a book falsely called a “diagnostic” manual, all concerned will be swimming in a soup that has the look, the feel, and the smell of medicine.
We are now ready to de-code “mental illness,” that which our dogma tells us the “mentally ill” “have.”
Long before psychiatry had huge amounts of money to promote itself, and long before it had the computer revolution to “wow” the masses with its so-called “neuroscience,” an overwhelming variety of grotesque abuses were perpetrated on the inmates of mental “hospitals.” Each one of them was a “treatment,” simply by proclamation. Treatment was, after all, what doctors do.
Then, in the 1960s and 1970s, the non-medical members of the therapeutic community, psychologists, social workers, family counselors, were gaining in confidence, and gaining clinical licenses. There was only one thing to do: Psychiatry would just have to find some mental “illness,” some brain diseases, that required the MD degree.
So, they created a new “diagnostic manual,” DSM III, one that had no genuine diagnoses, only symptom patterns. But hey, no problem. If they were listed in a “Diagnostic Manual,” what else would they be but “diagnoses”? It also followed that whatever a psychiatrist decided upon became a “treatment,” despite there being no genuine medical disorder found.
Next, psychiatry linked up with drug-company profits, tax dollars funneled through the National Institutes of Mental Health, and easy access to mainstream media, so that by now what is believed by our people to be neuroscience (I call it “Neuro-Sales”) is assumed to have triumphed over every other way of helping mentally disturbed people.
But putting a drug or electricity into someone’s brain does not a treatment make, any more than the lobotomist’s ice pick or the bleedings of yesteryear were treatments. The sad fact is that all of psychiatry’s bodily “treatments” result in bodily harm that is simply proclaimed to be “effective treatment.” This harm is what is being called “improvement.” Just as alcohol may provide temporary relief, this is not “therapeutic response.”
From Benjamin Rush’s claim that his bleedings were a treatment for too much blood in the brain, to today’s insistence that a drug that slows you down means your brain had too much of something and a drug that speeds you up means you had too little of something, nothing has changed except the dramatic growth in the hype and the hope. The general public has now become the cheerleaders, all too ready to get on the wonder drugs themselves.
Alleged advances during the 1990’s, the “decade of the brain,” as well as more recent claims, have been promoted so persistently that the public doesn’t even want to consider what is quite obvious if a genuinely scientific attitude is maintained.
And if you are still not upset, consider this: mental symptoms are no help whatever is getting to the real sources of mental distress. Reliance on symptoms, and physical examination, and laboratory findings, is the bread and butter of genuine medicine, but mental pain and distress, fears, confusion, disappointments… these things call for help that cannot be reduced to scientific medicine. If the problems are not medical, genuine and lasting solutions cannot be medical.
This understanding does not require prior training in science or medicine, only critical thinking and willingness to question authority, along with an understanding of what key words actually mean, and an understanding of what psychiatrists actually do. Backed by the power of the state, psychiatry is throwing dangerous chemicals and dangerous electricity at fictitious “diseases” with no regard to the possibility, no, the certainty, that harm will result.
It is now clearly demonstrated that harm is not only possible when such pseudo-science prevails, but inevitable. Does it take an advanced degree in biology or medicine to understand that chemicals specifically designed to enter the brain have no chance whatever of improving anything and will inevitably damage the overwhelmingly complex architecture and functioning of the central nervous system?
A psychoactive drug taken voluntarily, for a short while, as part of a program staffed by care-givers that includes a physician, could be an intelligent way to help someone get through a difficult time. Lack of sleep, for example, is known to be a very real precipitant of acute psychosis, but a short course of chemical help in conjunction with other assistance would be a far cry from what psychiatry is insisting on — the lifelong addiction to powerful tranquilizers justified as control of “brain disease.”
Moving on, we come to the word “disease.” Once we recognize that the use of force, or the threat of its use, is inherent in how society currently employs psychiatry, it becomes clear that everyone being “treated” by a psychiatrist has good reason to exercise caution lest they go from being a “patient” to a prisoner.
If I am correct when I say, “Fear of Psychiatry: It’s Not Irrational,” that means that all too many persons needing and wanting help are being deprived of help and are thereby more rather than less likely to resort to desperate measures like suicide or violent retaliation against someone or something.
Without force, so-called shock “treatment” would quickly disappear because few persons would agree to it. Without force, a public campaign of re-education would have a real chance to drastically reduce our consumption of psychoactive chemicals. Without force, no one’s self-esteem, no one’s hopes for the future, would melt away because they felt compelled to do what a doctor tells them. Medicine and force are simply incompatible, at least if our society really believes that the first rule of medicine is primum non nocere.
Once our educational efforts begin to include the fact that force is an ever-present contaminant of today’s psychiatry, we will need to explain other words, other concepts.
“Patients” and “Prognosis”
To be a medical patient includes the protection of “informed consent.” Repeated court findings and international declarations have made it clear that both words are critical: genuine consent to medical treatment must be both informed and consensual, free of coercion and free of misinformation.
This means that truly informed consent is simply impossible in today’s psychiatry. If psychiatry is capable of the systematic distortions that make up its “disease model,” it is certain that “patients” never receive sufficient information for genuine consent. They are also never truly free of the threat of force.
It seems that the conventional wisdom is an empty shell: To society’s traditional stigma towards mentally troubled persons, psychiatry adds its false claims, its use of force, and the grave danger of long-term harms from chemicals and electricity.
This denies genuine help to needy persons, driving them away by depriving them of the protections guaranteed to genuine medical patients and subjecting them to bodily harm in the name of treatment, assaulting their already compromised self-esteem.
If all this sounds harsh, I’m glad. We must communicate the seriousness of the problem by the emotion we show. We are not university lecturers but public educators.
* * *
I want to conclude by letting psychiatry speak for itself and put its best foot forward. Let’s see if I am getting too “emotional.” As I have shown in the past, both in my book The Reign of Error, and decades later in reviewing Dr. Nancy Andreasen’s The Broken Brain, an examination of what psychiatry’s leaders have to say is most instructive.
Among the “best and the brightest,” Chairman of Psychiatry at Columbia University, and past president of the American Psychiatric Association, Jeffrey Lieberman fits that description.
Recently I came upon his TED Talk of January 11, 2016, “Imagine There Was No Stigma To Mental Illness.”
It was, in fact, this presentation and my reaction to it that became the inspiration for writing this blog. I was so appalled at what I heard — the obvious vulnerability of the rapt audience, the huge reach of the TED Talks venue, and the fact that what was being recommended would lead to a massive increase in the drugging of the world’s population — that I felt compelled to add my voice to those who have already pointed out that his message, and psychiatry’s message, has nothing to do with science and everything to do with sales.
Essentially, Lieberman in his twenty-two minutes focused entirely on the stigma traditionally attached to “mental illness,” went on to talk about the scientific advances from psychiatry, and promised that if we all would stop stigmatizing those in need of help, psychiatry could much sooner treat the brain disorders responsible, and in many cases “virtually transform people’s lives.”
“And the fact that I can’t even tolerate thinking about,” he said, “is that for all of human history up until the latter part of the 20th century, the barriers to getting any relief from your mental illness were lack of knowledge and lack of treatment. But now the barriers are lack of awareness, stigma, and lack of access.”
And then came the heart of the message, one that is truly chilling:
“So, what if there were no stigma to mental illness? We could launch a public health initiative against mental illness, and it could begin with three simple strategies. One would be: intervene and identify early. And we should begin with screening: in schools, colleges, primary care settings, workplace. In individuals who are identified as having symptoms or in incipient stages or at imminent risk, referrals could be made to specialized programs for mood, anxiety, psychotic disorders, that had an array of different services that are evidence based and known to help. The effectiveness would be to reduce the duration of untreated illness, provide the optimal level of care right up front, treat people to recovery, prevent relapse, and prevent potential harm to themselves or to other people.”
He then went on to talk about incorporating “behavioral medicine” into other healthcare settings to identify and treat “co-morbid mental disorders,” and establishing “community-based comprehensive care” that would include “medical management” and the possibility of residential facilities. I need hardly add that the evidence that psychiatry’s interventions lead to vastly more disability, rather than less, was overlooked.
Moving down the home stretch, Lieberman spoke of alleviating “the social problems that are so vexing to society.” He told the audience: “The worst of these, of course, are the civilian massacres, the mass violence. Mentally ill individuals are responsible for a very small percentage of the overall violence in the United States, but they contribute disproportionately to these glaring mass violent incidents that attract so much attention and concern from the public, the media and the government. And if you look at it, the individuals that have been the perpetrators are generally young males, who have suffered from the symptoms of their illness for a long time prior to committing their terrible deed. But they didn’t get helped. Instead they were shunned, and they were feared, and they were ridiculed, until tragedy struck.”
I’d be willing to bet that it is the rare psychiatrist who ever questions whether it is precisely because someone “reached out to help them” — i.e. took steps to initiate forced treatment with psychoactive drugs — that aggravated pre-existing isolation and resentment, pushing an already disturbed person toward rather than away from extremes like violence or suicide.
No sign that Lieberman or his mainstream colleagues entertain such possibilities, as judged by his concluding recommendations:
“We need to encourage people to regard mental illness as a medical condition much like other physical illnesses,” he said. He advised the audience to make it their business to intervene if they see someone “who’s acting strange, in psychological distress, or too often, intoxicated,” so they can “seek help.”
It all sounds so good that I’m sure that virtually every member of his TED Talk audience went away in solid agreement, not to mention the vastly larger audience that has already listened and will continue to watch via YouTube and continue to be influenced by the massive PR apparatus available to psychiatry and its partners.
But it’s a “funny” (NOT funny) thing: The Truth has a way of hangin’ around, and the critics of psychiatry — professionals, non-professionals, survivors, critical thinkers of every kind — are not going away.
Psychiatry as presently constituted can only survive as long as it is society’s enforcer, the profession elected by our laws and our traditions to be an adjunct to the police powers of the state, all in the name of help, through the legal doctrine of parens patriae.
If it were recognized by our people that science is irrelevant to the debate over whether society’s fears should trump individual rights to liberty, then we could begin what will be the long struggle to win such a debate. What needs to happen is that we start the debate now rather than wait until force and psychiatry are no longer joined. Legislators will never do it until the public demands it, and the public will never demand it until they understand.
That is where we come in. We must keep it simple and keep it strong, never afraid to show our emotions, but always remaining professional. We must be credible teachers, regardless of… well, regardless. We must, in the words of legendary jazz trumpeter Clark Terry, “keep on keepin’ on.”
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.
Well, we’re largely re-inventing the wheel here, as we need to spend less time deconstructing psychiatry — which is largely a no-brainer at this point — and more time analyzing and strategizing how to defeat and eliminate it.
That said, let me start the discussion by positing that “stigma” is a term which should be clearly defined as “bigotry directed at people based on their being given a psychiatric label (‘diagnosis’).” Whether Lee intended to do so or not, there is no quarters for psychiatry behind a defense of “there has always been stigma”; what’s important is what is happening today, and what is happening today is being done by psychiatry. “Stigma” comes with any “diagnosis.” It’s basic math, not rocket science. Get rid of psychiatry and the “stigma of mental illness” vanishes along with it. The rest is mere detail.
“Get rid of psychiatry and the ‘stigma of mental illness’ vanishes along with it.” True. Get rid of the DSM, and we get rid of the stigmatizations themselves. And the DSM was confessed to be “invalid” over five years ago. Why is it still being used?
“The beautiful thing about psychiatry’s pronouncements is that no one can ever prove them wrong.” I beg to differ, I think Robert Whitaker did a great job pointing out the iatrogenic pathways to the “childhood bipolar epidemic.” The “bipolar epidemic” was the result of the mass misdiagnosing of the adverse effects of the ADHD drugs and antidepressants, as “bipolar.” Which means “bipolar” has iatrogenic etiologies, not a genetic one. Whitaker gave pretty damning evidence that psychiatry’s pronouncements are often wrong, especially the American psychiatrists, since the “childhood bipolar epidemic” is an American only epidemic. Apparently the psychiatrists in other countries are intelligent enough to read their “diagnostic manuals,” whereas the American “mental health professionals” are not.
“Note: Manic-like episodes that are clearly caused by somatic antidepressant treatment (e.g., medication, electroconvulsive therapy, light therapy) should not count toward a diagnosis of Bipolar I Disorder.”
So the APA chose to take that disclaimer out of the DSM5, to spite Robert Whitaker, and make that mass American only, psychiatric malpractice “acceptable.” Which, make no mistake, is what America’s incompetent “mental health professionals,” and the child rape covering up religions that employ them, now believe.
And the psychiatric industry has the same problem with it’s “schizophrenia diagnosis.” Given the reality that the “schizophrenia treatments,” the neuroleptic/antipsychotic drugs, can create both the negative and positive symptoms of “schizophrenia.” The negative symptoms are created via neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome, and the positive symptoms are created via antipsychotic induced anticholinergic toxidrome.
Which means the psychiatric industry’s two “most serious mental illnesses” are illnesses created with the psychiatric treatments themselves. They are iatrogenic illnesses, not genetic illnesses. Although you are correct, sleep deprivation is also known to create “psychosis,” but that’s also not a “life long, incurable, genetic mental illness.” Street drugs, and even some prescription drugs like steroids, can also cause “psychosis,” but again, not “lifelong, incurable, genetic mental illnesses.”
I do agree, forced treatment should be made illegal. And most certainly, no one – nor anyone’s health insurance – should ever be forced to pay for forced “treatment.” I mean, is it fair to be forced to pay for “treatment” that one does not want? No.
But when that is the law of the land, then you get psycho doctors like this one, who will have well insured, healthy people, medically unnecessarily shipped long distances to himself.
He admits them with non-existent “chronic airway obstructions,” which are not “mental illnesses.” So he gets his psychiatric partner in crime to claim that the non-existent “chronic airway obstructions” magically turned into “mental illnesses.” Requiring that the people be “snowed,” in the hopes of making the people be unable to breathe, so that unneeded tracheotomies can be performed on God knows how many people, for profit.
Perhaps, if forced psychiatric treatment must be legal, it should only be legal when the force treating doctors, can’t profiteer or even get paid, for that medically unneeded forced treatment? I bet that would drastically reduce the medically unneeded forced treatments.
We do need a “grassroots movement to abolish forced ‘treatment.'” I do have an anti-forced treatment painting in the arts section of this website, “Painted in Red.” I’m working on getting my artwork online so people may purchase copies of, or merchandise with, my Spirit led, critical psychiatry / anti-child abuse artwork on it soon. Bummer I’m living in hell on earth, the artwork that’s all the rage with our current “elite” is “Spirit cooking,” pedophile artwork.
Can we say, the wrong war mongering and profiteering, bailout needing, monetary system destroying, “banks stole $trillions worth of houses,” fiscally irresponsible banking families took over America yet? Or is that concern, and disgust at 9/11/2001, still “bipolar?” Despite the fact an intelligent doctor was smart enough to understand that anticholinergic toxidrome poisonings are not the same thing as “bipolar,” thankfully. Some people can medically prove “psychiatry’s pronouncements” are wrong.
Hi Someone else
You write, quoting me: “The beautiful thing about psychiatry’s pronouncements is that no one can ever prove them wrong.” I beg to differ
I was apparently not very clear. I was trying to point to the absurdity of psychiatry’s announcements, which virtually by definition can of course never be proven to be wrong because they can never be proven to right. This is the difference between genuine science and psychiatry. I guess my attempt at a little irony didn’t quite work.
Thanks for the response.
“I was trying to point to the absurdity of psychiatry’s announcements, which virtually by definition can of course never be proven to be wrong because they can never be proven to right.”
Lee, I do agree, “psychiatric announcements” are absurd. I agree psychiatrists can never prove their stigmatization of innocent humans are “right,” medically or morally. But, I don’t agree that stigmatizing another human can “never be proven to be wrong because they can never be proven to right.” That makes no sense.
I pointed out above that both “bipolar” and even the “sacred symbol of psychiatry,” “schizophrenia,” are symptoms caused by medically known, not included in the DSM, medical toxidrome/syndrome, that result from medical poisoning with the psychiatric drugs.
I didn’t think you were agreeing with the psychiatric proclamations, but it’s rather sad psychiatrists only speak out against their coworkers crimes against humanity, after they retire. But it’s better late than never.
But as a lady who was stigmatized and poisoned just after 9/11/2001, for knowing at that time that the wrong banking families had control of our government and military, and for belief in the Holy Spirit. And because my PCP was paranoid of a non-existent malpractice suit, because her husband was the “attending physician” at a “bad fix” on a broken bone of mine. And because I had a pastor who wanted to cover up the rape of my small child by his “soul mate,” Bohemian Grove attending, apparently Baal worshipping, child and attempted human sacrificing, “cocaine dealing,” pedophile buddy, the author of this book.
I just want to make it clear that the psychiatrists and psychologists, whose primary actual function in our society has been for over a century, and still is, covering up child abuse for the religious leaders, are not behaving in either a morally or medically acceptable manner.
Quite to the contrary, when a society has a multibillion dollar, primarily child abuse covering up group of industries, which is what our “mental health” industries are today, by design.
That country will end up with pedophile and child trafficking run amok problems, which will destroy our society, if not addressed and corrected, despite the taboo nature of discussing these societal problems. Societal problems created by our child abuse covering up, pedophile empowering, “mental health” industry, that are now even being pointed out by world leaders.
In other words, the psychiatric industry’s crimes are not just crimes that harm individuals, they do. But the psychiatric industry’s crimes are also crimes that will destroy humanity as a whole, if they are not ended soon. Because a society cannot survive if it has multibillion dollar industries hell bent on profiteering off of destroying it’s own children. And that is what psychiatry, and it’s DSM deluded, child rape covering up and profiteering “mental health” minion, are today.
Thanks for the response.
Here is a link to the licensed psychologist who was hired by church officials to discredit my claim of pedophile sexual abuse by catholic clergy – ironically he is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in ethics. https://mn.gov/boards/assets/Schoener_Schoener_Stipulation%20and%20Consent%20Order_10.2.18_tcm21-356159.pdf
Yes, I believe other agendas including Pharma is involved.
Hi again Someone Else Just looked over your thoughts again, and noticed your statement ” it’s rather sad psychiatrists only speak out against their coworkers crimes against humanity, after they retire. But it’s better late than never.”
If you care to read my “Reign of Error: Psychiatry, Authority, and Law,” published in 1984 when I was still young, you will see that your description hardly fits me. The book and more is available at http://www.coleman.nyghtfalcon.com The Lee Coleman Collection under documents/books and essays. Articles starting from the 1970s are being posted there as we speak.
Thanks again for the comments.
My apology, Lee.
Yes, I’ve met with Catholic survivors of clergy abuse, and had to recommend “Anatomy” to a family whose daughter was abused, given an antidepressant, which made her manic. Of course, resulting in a “bipolar” misdiagnosis. As pointed out above, from the DSM-IV-TR:
“Note: Manic-like episodes that are clearly caused by somatic antidepressant treatment (e.g., medication, electroconvulsive therapy, light therapy) should not count toward a diagnosis of Bipolar I Disorder.”
That common sense was taken out of the DSM5 by the “omnipotent moral busy body,” unethical psychiatrists.
An ethical pastor of a different religion did confess to me that “mental health professionals” covering up “zipper troubles” for the religions is “the dirty little secret of the two original educated professions.” And the “mental health” literature and history proves this is true.
Unfortunately, my childhood religion has pastors and bishops who are so hell bent on covering up medical evidence of child abuse, plus/via 14 anticholinergic toxidrome attempted murders of me, that they even cover up child abuse for apparently Baal worshipping, “cocaine dealing,” child sacrificing, non-members of that religion.
A little about the child abuse covering up hobbies of my former religion. I’d be one of the many “widows” mentioned in the Preface of this 2007 book.
I know both the Catholics and ELCA Lutherans use the “mental health professionals” to cover up their “zipper troubles.” But my former ethical pastor of a different religion did seemingly confess it’s all the religions. This “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions” needs to be exposed, and ended.
And what’s kind of sad is I now have a non-clinical Lutheran psychologist on my ass who handed over an “art manager” contract, proving he wanted to take control of all my art work and my family’s money. Because my artwork visual exposes this “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions,” and the ELCA Lutherans don’t want to get out of this, very lucrative, child abuse covering up business.
Stigma is a euphemism for prejudice and discrimination and bigotry. “Stigma” suggests that the poor “mentally ill” are unable/unwilling to “get help” because they’re afraid their families or friends will be ashamed of them, or that they’ll be ashamed of themselves. It is intended to be rooted in the unreasoning fear of the potential “patient.” Whereas prejudice and discrimination clearly lie in the treatment of the potential “patient” by the very system that purports to “help” them. It’s a very important distinction, I believe. These terms are chosen strategically.
Stigma means “shame.” Who shamed us? Why the lord high stigmatizers themselves at the APA.
A true “stigma buster” would be publicly discrediting a shrink! You avoid stigma by shunning their “help.” Man do they lack insight into how human beings behave!
From what I have read asylums were developed for pauper lunatics in early industrial capitalism. The families of paupers could not afford to look after their mad relatives so putting them in asylums was probably essential to the family and lunatics survival. The asylums for the well off didn’t grow so quickly as those for paupers.
Dr’s convinced people they were the experts in dealing with lunatics so people dumped there lunatics, ie those who they considered difficult, in asylums and definitions of madness grew as more and more people were considered mad and outside the normal bounds of society. Psychiatry became a social control agent in early industrial capitalism.
I therefore suspect the early asylums with the legalisation of the locking up of pauper lunatics, ie the odd and unproductive, is one of the sources of stigma, ie shame of being distressed.
Tranquilizers and ECT became the new and additional social control mechanisms of psychiatry as well as profit driven industries.
Now we have state funded anti-stigma campaigns that normalise being tranquilized or given ECT and which arguably makes the acceptable range of behavior narrower, disguises the causes of distress and increases profit for drug companies. Meanwhile any good help, and long term counselling can often be effective, is cut and short CBT aimed at symptoms, and thus is a psychosocial tranquiliser is increased.
A driving force behind the growth of private madhouses in Great Britain was the perceived need to lock up errant members of the aristocracy when it was feared they might jeopardize their ancestral holdings. Many people who sensed an opportunity to make a killing off the rich were attracted to this practice. This, in turn, ended up inspiring the booming growth of the public asylum system. Bedlam itself was a very modest and meager affair until this happened, and the madness industry took off from there.
I’m not saying that containing paupers in their desperation didn’t have something to do with the rise of public asylums. I’m just saying I wouldn’t ignore the business end of it either. There was money to be made off the aristocracy, and this, too, probably as much as any impetus to contain the rabble, had much to do with the rise of the hospital system.
All of which demonstrates that psychiatric oppression crosses traditional class lines, and that psychiatric survivors constitutes a “quasi-class” of their own.
It looks like MIA is still at it. They still haven’t caught on to the sad reality that psychiatry cannot be reformed, rethought, or criticized. Psychiatry IS the problem.
My comment is not so much about this article or anyone’s particular comment. I was introduced to anti-psychiatry, abolition of psychiatry, and criticism of psychiatry about 2 1/2 years ago. Today, with many thanks to what I’ve learned from the authors and commentors on MIA and similar websites, I look at westernized, mainstream, traditional, and conservative Psychiatry as a form of “Gaslighting” that has done what it’s intended to do: almost 30 years ago, the “mental health system” started sowing seeds of doubt in my mind regarding my sanity. Like so many others, I’ve been victimized, gipped, conned and swindled…While the consequences have been debilitating, I’ve survived many crimes against my Humanity. I trusted and got burnt.
I’m tapering. I go for walks and I read. Undoing the damage will take a lifetime, one day at a time…
What Psych truly hates is when one finally does gain “insight”. The insight they preached about was not insight at all, but rather, conformity. This is typical cult behaviour.
I grew up with misgivings about the “truths” I was told, and then psych tried to tell me that they held the truth. I found the similarities uncanny.
It is much more unforgivable to be lied to by systems, than parents who suck at being parents.
I very much agree OH.
” there is no quarters for psychiatry behind a defense of “there has always been stigma”; what’s important is what is happening today, and what is happening today is being done by psychiatry. “Stigma” comes with any “diagnosis.” It’s basic math, not rocket science. Get rid of psychiatry and the “stigma of mental illness” vanishes along with it. The rest is mere detail.”
I understand what Lee is saying, but then IF indeed psychiatry is not to blame for the “stigma”, why did they invent a book that actually promotes the VERY “stigma” which already existed? And before there was just some stigma. Now there is persecution based on “illnesses” psychiatry created by their “diagnostic” bible.
This has ZERO to do with the public and it’s existing biases. In fact, the ONLY reason we have so much stigma IS because psychiatry decided to virtually call everything “mental illness”, which translates that this person is “damaged”. They cannot help being “sick” and are thus unable to form any coherent thoughts. Society had nothing to do with that. Psychiatry convinced the public and they worked bloody hard to do so.
I might say that psychiatry is not responsible for initiating stigma, but they ARE responsible for capitalizing on and exacerbating existing stigma/prejudice in the interests of controlling their patients and making a profit.
OH nobody knows wheels exist sadly.
It’s because of lying creeps like Lieberman stigma is the problem. TD and other marks of brain damage, morbid obesity, homelessness all come from “help” creeps like him have tricked or coerced the innocent into taking. He knows his profession is behind the rash of killing sprees. Everyone here knows he’s morally responsible for these deaths and is happy to have them continue since its great PR for his profession. That man has no conscience or empathy and is a menace to society.
Know why there’s an anti-psychiatry movement and no anti-cardiology movement? Because heart specialists don’t go on national TV and demonize folks with heart attacks. (Also they don’t cause heart attacks in a bunch of hitherto healthy people.) Real doctors don’t slander their patients!
Science is our weapon. We must systematically promote scientific research among the general public in the form of accessible, fully sourced and verifiable articles, leaflets, videos and graphics.
We must denounce relentlessly journalists, psychiatrists and experts who promote toxic and dangerous methods, by interest and not based on science.
For lack of means, we will always have the media bottom, but we can nonetheless form an active minority that can reverse the situation when the time is right.
Make graphics! A picture is worth a thousand words.
Well said Sylvain!
Many more would come to our aid or find the courage to leave the System if they realized there is no known brain disorder behind the emotional distress and therefore the pills cannot correct it.
I disagree. The only “science” we need is the understanding that “mental illness” — the cornerstone of psychiatry’s self-justification — is an impossibility, and an absurdity, as any competent linguist or high school language teacher should be able to affirm. Any “studies” of ANYTHING relating to or presupposing the existence of “mental illness” are inherently invalid, as well as absurd, as they are based on demonstrably false premises. Many people, even “anti-psychiatry” people, don’t really get this, even as they talk about Szasz.
Not to offend, but Dragonslayer, Seth Farber and Bonnie Burstow are the only MIA people I can think of off the top of my head (I know there are others) who I am sure truly understand Szasz, and realize that there is no “research” needed into the meaning of language, just some serious study of what a simile is, or a metaphor. To use my own metaphor, we do not respond to hearing about it “raining cats and dogs” by calling for research into how cats and dogs can fall from the sky. So to “study” “mental illness” is a fool’s errand from the start, and about as unscientific as one can get.
(What might be a subject for actual research is how an otherwise educated populace gets conned into believing that metaphors can be taken literally if one chooses to do so.)
There are all sorts of tactics one can use with the media and elsewhere but first there needs to be a unified, or at least coordinated message and goal, and the anti-psychiatry “movement” has a long way to go before we’re at that point. For now people just need to keep putting the truth out there however they see fit, as it does have a cumulative effect. Just be sure it’s the truth.
Being focused on the media is self-defeating, as the media are there to promote the corporate agenda. These are not mere words. If people think seeing their names in the paper is cool and represents progress go for it, but don’t start believing your press clippings; the real work is still to be done. People who pander to “public opinion” are playing the system’s game.
“If it were recognized by our people that science is irrelevant to the debate over whether society’s fears should trump individual rights to liberty, then we could begin what will be the long struggle to win such a debate.”
This needs debate? Society needs to heal its myriad social phobias because no, of course mass fear and hysteria and the prejudice created from this should not overpower individual rights and liberties. That would be a fundamental belief in any movement against oppression and marginalization based on othering and disempowerment. That is a society run by bigotry, and how we end up with lies and corruption, our status quo. Those with ANY kind of stigma against them (and there are so many) would be targeted, as they are in our current society. That’s a corrupt hierarchy, because it is based on bigotry, illusion, and lies so the higher ups/elite can thrive on the energy of those marginalized and dehumanized, at their unwitting sacrifice. That’s common, it is already status quo and has been!
How that healing and shift would occur and how it would look and where to start would be more my questions for discussion, not whether or not it should be done. Appeasing societal fears is what we do now, so continuing to do it is more status quo, no change. I certainly hope that no one here feels that social fears should trump the human rights and civil liberties of others. That would be deep paradox around here.
Anyone remember the classic Twlilight Zone episode, The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street? It is exactly about this. Rod Serling was astute and ahead of his time.
The way society sees it Alex, is we are all mass murderers who will go on killing sprees without our chemical muzzles. They believe we are being helped–not hurt–because these drugs restore the chemical balances of our hopelessly defective brains.
Can you blame them for not wanting to be murdered?
(I know this is all bovine excrement promoted by the drug industry and shrinks. But I guess more than 95% of America’s population believes the “metaphor” Pies is laughing up his sleeves about is a scientifically established fact.)
Ok, for the sake of making my point here, I’ll take that all as fact without quibbling over statistics or generalizations. I get what you are saying here. I’d say that even a mere 5% aligned with and acting on truth is more powerful than 95% aligned with lies, corruption, and greed because that is a house of cards. Its only hope of staying up and “in power” is if people do not wake up and continue to live in fear, especially of “the system.”
And I think it’s way more than 5% of the world popluation waking up and already awakened to the bullshit we’ve been fed on every level, even to this fiasco they call “the mental health industry.” Yes, many people continue to worship the temple of psychiatry, for whatever reasons, but tons of folks get it, too. And the truth is more powerul than the lies, so we just need more and more people awake to the truth. And that’s what we’re doing right now, best we can, and how we live our lives, in general.
And I don’t know, as to those 95% (or whatever that number would be), I say fuck ’em and get over it. That is THEIR awakening to do. I’ve already had mine.
Convincing them our rights are being violated and we are being harmed would be a good first step. Many believe they are helping us by drugging, shocking and imprisoning us. (And saving their own lives too.)
Yes, I completely agree.
And what is most striking. infuriating, and disheartening to me is how incredibly challenging if not absolutely impossible to get these basic points across, of harm being done and rights being violated–without question and repeatedly and systemically for how long now?–to the point of it coming to an abrubt halt, or even a gradual tapering of abuse, when brought to their attention, and in fact, it just rears its ugly little head again, in the moment. It is the weirdest, and most toxic, game–
“you are hurting me”
“no I’m not”
“yes you are”
“it is you not me”
“no really, here’s the proof, clearly, when you said this or that, it made me feel bad, I felt pain and it had this negative effect on my thoughts, emotions, and life”
“you are this, you are that, I know better, shut up, take your meds, good bye” and for some
“will that be cash or credit?”
That’s my version of it, in any event, in a nutshell.
Convincing them our rights are being violated and we are being harmed would be a good first step.
Just the simple agreement between wrong (harmful, violating) and right (respectful, supportive)? This is where it seems to be most problematic, when people do not perceive these in the same way. What are the options here?
The “great awakening” is in process, Alex, thank God. And, absolutely, I agree with oldhead, “We don’t ‘debate’ whether everyone deserves basic human rights. We just assert them.” Personally, I was shocked to learn that the “mental health professionals” don’t believe “all people are created as equal,” thus don’t believe in the Declaration of Independence, thus are anti-American. How stupid, to the point of being traitors to the good people of America, can the psychiatric industry be?
Amen! Yes, the truth is out there far and wide and spreading fast now. Everyone knows there is a struggle at present between intergity & authenticity vs. mass lying, projecting, and social programming for the sake of power, etc., and that we’ve all been deeply affected by this, one way or another, emotionally, financially, psychologically, physically, etc.
The fog is lifting, thank God, indeed. Lots of healing happening from this awakening, goes hand in hand. I can feel relief from that.
Absolutely correct Alex. The endless Mengelian “debate”…fuck the “debate,” abolish psychiatry! We don’t “debate” whether everyone deserves basic human rights. We just assert them. I think that’s your jist anyway, if so I’m down 100%!
“We don’t “debate” whether everyone deserves basic human rights. We just assert them.”
To the point, and YES! No question about it if we want to evolve past all of this. And exactly what I am asserting here, so thank you for distilling it as such.
PS I have the 1st four Twilight Zone DVDs, I’ll have to revisit that episode. I think it’s from the 1st season, and do remember it pretty well.
I love TZ and just about anything written by Rod Serling. He had his finger on the pulse of the culture and of the universe, I believe. I watch episodes from time to time, and I’m often struck by the foreshadowing. His insight into humanity was uncanny. Many, many seriously brilliant episodes, and it set a standard rarely if ever matched these days. That was great television, when it had artistic merit. Nowadays, blech…talk about taking a nosedive!
Stigma…is an excellent book by a wonderful sociologist…Goffman, who helped debunk psychiatry in the 50s and 60s. The Mental Health Industry (Mental Health, Inc.) knows all about stigma, because stigma is one of the primary weapons in their arsenal, right up there with brain damage and the economic terrorism of poverty, which they inflict on people largely thru stigma. Anyway…
their job, really, is to stigmatize distress, madness, alienation, poverty, having the “wrong” skin color, the “wrong” gender, being…an outlier, a misfit…
by slapping on pseudoscientific labels. While the brain damage, death, destruction, etc. -are- massive problems, too…
Psychiatry did OK, back in, say, the 19th century, without resorting to such violence. Society needs psychiatry to keep people in line. The drugs, the shocks, the operations…bring in status and profit, plus there’s obviously a strong sadistic element to psychiatry, too, but…
society can function a-OK with healthy, intelligent “mental patients…” as long as they/we are thoroughly stigmatized, discredited, and controlled.
Psychiatric “Stigma Reduction Campaigns” are cynical, Orwellian campaigns to stigmatize, discredit, and destroy more human beings.
The way to “overcome” stigma is to expose and defeat psychiatry. We sure are all super-conscious on this point tonight, aren’t we — and on the same page. 🙂
Psychiatry did OK, back in, say, the 19th century, without resorting to such violence.
OK I was right with you till that one sentence. Care to document that? 🙂
by “psychiatry did OK,” I meant that psychiatry was still in busines, even though they tried their hand at the Quaker-inspired “moral treatment” for a season. For a time, being committed to -some- asylums meant a softer, gentler, more human sort of confinement and “treatment. Even then, some former patients wrote books exposing the whole system…
and it just got worse. 🙁
How do you lock people up without resorting to violence? When an individual locks another person up, it’s abduction and false imprisonment, when the state does so, it’s ‘treatment’ or ‘punishment’. ‘Treatment’, by the way, that doesn’t require an acknowledged crime to be committed first. A whole array of activities directed at controlling portions of society escalates during the seventeenth century that hasn’t stopped escalating to the present day. It all begins with this incarceration. Where are labels and drugs without it? On the ground if they’ve been brushed off a shoulder. The threat and the use of confinement have much more to do with the issue than is generally acknowledged. “Moral treatment” was the tag-line for much of the “treatment” that took place during the nineteenth century. Oppression, in this case, becoming much more acceptable when associated with “reform”. “Reform’ that had much more to do with ‘show’ and ‘promotion’ than it had to do with anything more substantial. While conditions in psychiatric prisons, so-called “asylums”, may have improved for the prisoners. The numbers of both psychiatric prisons and psychiatric prisoners increased during the nineteenth century dramatically. These numbers continued increasing until deinstitutionalization efforts, and the expansion of the “mental health” system into the community, that came with the mid-twentieth century. Okay, so now there are more “patients”, but fewer of them are “inmates” (quite literally), and social control is taking more subtle forms. I’ve heard the word ‘epidemic’ bandied about, and the institution outside the institution (court ordered drugging and “outpatient treatment”, for instance) is growing. House arrest versus big house arrest, police battery versus chemical mutilation, I can’t say that the situation has improved a great deal over time. I can’t say, whether by fraud or by contagion, that the ‘epidemic’ has in any fashion subsided, nor that the numbers of people said to have a “mental illness” has gone down.
What I’m saying is that what we’ve actually got is a “trade in lunacy” updated for the twenty-first century. Want to do something about it? Stop “trading in lunacy”! It’s a business, and as long as business proceeds as usual, nobody’s job is threatened. The “illness” is one “job” in that it “pays” for subsistence and survival. The “healing” or the “helping” is another “job” that does more than “pay” peanuts. Both “jobs” are dependent on one another while the antidote is self-reliance, the thing that can’t be encouraged without threatening business prospects and prosperity, you know, more than peanuts, for those in the business. The answer here is, of course, to diversify, that is, “trade” in something else besides “lunacy”.
I agreed with Sylvain about scientific proofs and arguments. The proofs already exist thanks to writers like RW and many others along with obscure papers published by the APA itself.
It’s not more scientific research we need (unless it’s helping survivors heal from the damage shrinks have done to them.) What we need to work on is public relations and presenting anti-psychiatry in trendy, dumbed down ways so John and Jane Doh! can get it. Sadly we can’t get a platform on TV. Few people read anymore but they mindlessly consume countless hours of television. Maybe catchy tunes on Youtube videos?
The proofs already exist thanks to writers like RW
“Proof” of what?
Rachel, you apparently ignored my point. The anti-psychiatry movement existed decades before RW and has never been predicated on such “studies.” The only “proof” needed to debunk psychiatry lies in the rules of language — not just English but all language — which cover the definition and nature of a metaphor. In a large sense RW validates psychiatry by taking its absurdities at face value as worthy of “study,” and not acknowledging that the results of his largely unnecessary research demonstrate this even further. Because everything we need to know about psychiatric fraud we knew 40 years ago.
The time has not yet come to overthrow psychiatry by revolutionary means.
Meanwhile, the fight is largely intellectual, where antipsychiatry must prove again and again that the psychiatry is bad. When researchers criticize the canons of psychiatry, this is an opportunity to show the contradictions inside psychiatry, to encourage integrity and to denounce fraud, even if we can criticize moderation and conformity of the majority of critical researchers.
It is known that MIA brings together both antipsychiatry and critical psychiatry: this has been discussed before. For the moment, this cohabitation does not bother me, because the critical psychiatry brings interesting scientific contributions to the antipsychiatric fight. Moreover, there is no doubt that many survivors of psychiatry come to radical antipsychiatry via critical psychiatry’s autors.
In any case, science gives intellectual weapons to defend oneself in the present, and prepares future battles on a sound rational basis.
Obviously you don’t get my point. What do you think science is needed for to either prove or disprove? The basics of language? Unnecessary “intellectual debates” are basically an exercise in professional privilege; many people cannot afford such a luxury when the reality of the deception and the oppression is staring us in the face daily. And by what authority, intellectual/academic or otherwise, do you deem yourself capable of judging the “right” moment for revolution (however you define the term)?
Lenin can do this, lol. 😀
More seriously, I am not an academic authority, but I know that I do not have under my command armed men who could close the psychiatric hospitals, and make the necessary arrests.
In the meantime, I’m doing propaganda, and I help my comrades get out of the psychiatric hospital by giving them the necessary documents and advice. As such, RW’s articles are extremely useful, but not only.
I know that I do not have under my command armed men who could close the psychiatric hospitals, and make the necessary arrests.
OK, well at least you’re thinking in the right direction. (By “armed men” I presume you mean police.) 🙂
I do think that envisioning the future should not be based on what’s currently in front of our eyes, or draped over them. Once we’ve defined where we want to go we can start considering the practicalities involved in getting there.
I imagine you’re familiar with the slogan “Be realistic, demand the impossible!”
I would be of the opinion that scientific studies do provide ammunition to be used in the fight to shut down psychiatry. If nothing else, I believe science is necessary to demonstrate the level of dispassionate lying involved in their “diagnoses” and “treatments.”
Then unfortunately you don’t understand my basic point — scientific research is not needed to demonstrate the nature of a metaphor.
Which is preferable? The brain damage that comes from treating a metaphor, or the stability achieved by damaging the organ of thought. Oops. Sorry, same thing. Anybody calculating what is lost in these drug company logo trade offs? Ever watch TV? The sponsors want the litany of legions of detrimental effects to be sort of like soothing elevator music so that people will use their product. I just have a lot of qualms about “stability” at all costs.
I always get worried when someone is interested in “stabilizing” someone else. It generally is code for “get them to stop bothering everyone else with their personal needs and concerns.” Or sometimes “beat them into submission.” Please, don’t “stabilize” me!
You mean that “mental illness” is an oxymoron?
Yes that does cause confusion when I have brought this up. I pointed it out to David Healy on his blog. The experts hem and haw. “Yes. Well mental actually means the brain.” “Yes we should call ‘schizophrenia’ a physical illness; not a mental one.”
But getting shrinks to call extreme states physical illnesses will not automatically end the battle. Great for making folks ask questions though. If depression is caused by a brain disease why is it called a mental illness? We don’t call brain cancer a mental illness or see psychiatrists to treat it.
And if it’s a brain disease, why is there no evidence that depressed people’s brains have anything in common with each other?
Once again, science goes out the door as soon as you refer to an “it” which has no basis in science and is a logical and linguistic impossibility.
One could do studies to explore whether human misery is caused by brain disease. That’s different than doing “research” into “mental illness.”
But you CAN prove that the “treatments” provided make things worse, which Harrow and Wunderlink and many others have successfully done without setting out to do so. The studies proving that antipsychotics cause brain shrinkage, done by someone who deeply believed in the “medical model,” were particularly useful in debunking the idea that “schizophrenia causes brain shrinkage.” There is no need to embrace psychiatric terminology or “diagnoses” to debunk the bullcrap “research” that is out there. Obviously, this by itself does little, as the APA and their profiteering supporters will simply discount such research as irrelevant or biased, but it does provide a base for making deeper strikes into the PR machine.
In rereading this, I agree – researching “mental illness” automatically feeds into the idea that there is such a thing. But researching the real impact of what the corrupt profession really DOES and what impact it has can be very useful, as Bob’s work has proven.
“It” is an extreme state labeled a disease by shrinks. Depression is real, but it is not a brain disease. And calling it that invalidates the experience and prevents any positive changes the unhappy person might make.
Very well said!
I’d say Rachel’s comment is the period at the end of the sentence. Perfectly and succinctly put. I can’t think of anything to add.
I’d focus now on allowing and supporting unhappy people to make any positive changes they feel compelled to make, with pure validation. Not to force, it’s still a choice. But it’s a choice which, personally, I would choose to support best I knew how, when asked to do so.
This blog provides some very insightful exposure of the entire Disease/Drug/Based Medical Model and the enormous harm it causes in the world.
HOWEVER, it is missing one very important piece for truly understanding the dangerous role that this oppressive paradigm of “treatment” is playing in today’s world. AND also, how we might go about putting it in the “dustbin of history.”
The blog DOES NOT explain why the current status quo (today’s profit based capitalist system) needs to have a psychiatric institution focusing people’s attention on “genetic theories of original sin” (that is, genetic or intrinsic flaws in the human species) that somehow accounts for all the social inequalities, trauma, violence, wars etc. that human beings inflict on one another.
The big question here (the elephant in the room) is: where do all these so-called symptoms (extreme human psychological distress) that gets labeled as “mental illness” originate from? The “Powers That Be” want people looking “inward” and not at the inherent flaws in the various forms of social organization that predominate this particular historical era in the world.
It is these systemic flaws in social and economic organization in society that creates most all the stressors, and various forms of social inequalities and violence that push the human species to various types of breaking points in psychological tolerance.
Psychiatry (over the last 40 years) has now become a vital and necessary form of social control (and deliberate attempt to distract the masses from the actual origins of their psychological distress) for the overall preservation of this profit based capitalist system. THE FUTURE OF PSYCHIATRY HAS NOW BECOME INSEPARABLE FROM THE HISTORICAL FUTURE OF CAPITALISM ITSELF.
And to those whose comments here are saying we need to simply explode the “myth of mental illness” and then psychiatry will disappear, are also sadly missing this key part of the analysis about the connections of modern psychiatry to the capitalist system.
re:your comment where do all these so-called symptoms (extreme human psychological distress) that gets labeled as “mental illness” originate from?” I think I did touch on your point, at least let me remind everyone of these paragraphs:
” Then, in the 1960s and 1970s, the non-medical members of the therapeutic community, psychologists, social workers, family counselors, were gaining in confidence, and gaining clinical licenses. There was only one thing to do: Psychiatry would just have to find some mental “illness,” some brain diseases, that required the MD degree.
“So, they created a new “diagnostic manual,” DSM III, one that had no genuine diagnoses, only symptom patterns. But hey, no problem. If they were listed in a “Diagnostic Manual,” what else would they be but “diagnoses”? It also followed that whatever a psychiatrist decided upon became a “treatment,” despite there being no genuine medical disorder found.
“Next, psychiatry linked up with drug-company profits, tax dollars funneled through the National Institutes of Mental Health, and easy access to mainstream media, so that by now what is believed by our people to be neuroscience (I call it “Neuro-Sales”) is assumed to have triumphed over every other way of helping mentally disturbed people.
I know all of you know all this, but I’m aiming for potential allies, not those already knowledgeable and committed. What I’m really looking for is helpers in the effort to educate the millions who have their heads and heart in the right place but just don’t yet understand….
Thank you Richard
Why don’t you and Richard start an organization of anti-psychiatry professionals to combat the omnipresent propaganda of so-called “experts”? People such as yourselves are in a unique position of privilege; rather than trying to deny or distance yourselves from this you should take advantage of it to undermine the claims of those who profess to be your “colleagues.”
“Mad In America” is this organisation.
Mad In America is NOT an anti-psychiatry organization. RW will distance himself from you with a 10 foot pole. 🙂
Instead of trying to tell professionals what to do, why aren’t you advocating for ALL anti-psychiatry activists to unite around an advanced anti-psychiatry set of principles (including linking the Medical Model to capitalism).
With your current approach, next you will be calling for women to have their own separate anti-psychiatry org. then Black people, then gay people etc. and the list could go on and on. This makes no sense at all coming from someone who claims to be a highly CLASS CONSCIOUS ANTI-CAPITALIST ACTIVIST.
I DO support the concept of different caucuses within a centralized framework, now that you mention it. What does the concept of self-determination mean to you?
Otherwise I guess I’ll take that as a “no”…
Society is most fundamentally divided into classes in this historical era. Without a class analysis (and a strategy deriving from that analysis) we will get absolutely nowhere fast.
For society and political movements to FULLY advance beyond capitalism, we must also advance beyond terminology and labels such as “SELF-empowerment”, SELF-determination” etc.
While these terms and their corresponding political actualization in the today’s world have some short term value, they also have limitations that will NOT get us beyond “nationalism” and “identity” politics to a unified class approach toward real revolutionary change.
“For society and political movements to FULLY advance beyond capitalism, we must also advance beyond terminology and labels such as “SELF-empowerment”, SELF-determination” etc.”
For society to advance at all, people need to feel their own empowerment. For me, self-empowerment and self-determination were vital to my healing my heart, spirit, mind, and life, following a period of profound disempowerment specifically via psychiatric treatment and going through social services system. If these were not to be my priority, to take back my power, apply it, embody it, and use it to create and support my life, then I am limited in my ability to accomplish anything, other than burning myself out.
To expect me or anyone here to dismiss these as products of “identity politics” and the like feels very stifling and oppressive to me, Richard, with all due respect.
I fully acknowledged in my above statement that the terms “self-empowerment” and “self-determination” have both individual and collective short term historical value.
All I am pointing out, especially to those who adhere to a class analysis of society, that we have to be moving much more in the direction of “collective empowerment” and “collective determination.” Or any other terms or terminology that describes human beings beginning to think and act in a *collective* way toward freedom and a world free of all forms of oppression.
Richard, for me, these notions have personal value of the highest magnitude, and I wouldn’t qualify these in any way, e.g. quotation marks. They are vital in healing from systemic abuse, which is overtly DISempowering. It is how I healed from oppression in my life, by knowing my power and working it, embodying it, trusting it, and refining it. I believe that’s how to do it, can’t think of any other way, it is the antidote, I cannot emphasize this enough. So that, first, without question.
I do agree that collective empowerment, determination, and focus are what will strengthen any endeavor, and indeed these would be fundamental in sociopolitical economic change. I imagine most people want this these days and many are working toward that endeavor, myself included, from a variety of angles. Not quite sure how to make it happen, but we’re doing the best we can one step at a time in the midst of social and global chaos.
What we do know with certainty is what is *not* working, which is just about everything status quo. But there are a variety of options regarding how to make progress, and where to focus from here, and people fight quite a bit over that, repeatedly and vehemently, and not sure core issues or disagreements ever quite get resolved. That keeps a rift in the collective, which diminishes its power.
When those who comprise the collective disagree on a fundamental point, like how to focus the collective or what would constitute “freedom,” for example, how would that be resolved? Can’t be by force, manipulation or control, nor without transparency, otherwise oppression would simply be being repeated.
This is where I feel personal empowerment comes in, to which everyone in a collective is entitled. What kind of result would that bring, I wonder? Would the collective split over irreconcilable differences (and lose numbers)? Or would the collective expand into something new (for a change)? Certainly people tire of the same old arguments, debates, and conflicts time and time and time again. No change there.
So how will personal, creative, financial, and spiritual freedom come about from all this? I have achieved these, and two of my most powerful tools were my self-empowerment and self-determination. I’m also very flexible in my thinking and respected the process without trying to control it, other than to steer it toward the outcomes I most desired. Still, I had to trust this most powerful and awesome process of transformation, it has interesting and unexpected twists and turns. It is a supremely creative process when we take down the old to establish a new. All of this was extermely helpful in embracing change, and kept me grounded and looking forward rather than back over my shoulder.
All I can say is I’m befuddled, as Richard is a “hard core” left-winger from way back, and “self-determination” has always been a basic principle of every leftist or socialist movement I’ve ever been aware of, including the Black Panthers. So I’m wondering if there’s been a “line change” on this by the “left” in general, and if so why.
Oldhead, you keep raising “self-determination” as a diversion to avoid dealing with the fact that you are openly opposing a broad based anti-psychiatry organization and movement that would clearly link psychiatry to a profit based capitalist system.
You keep doing this by over emphasizing the contradictions that exist between survivors and various kinds of other people (including professionals) working inside the oppressive “mental health” system. You also negate the critical role that the family members of survivors could play in such an organization.
You seem to want a movement that is divided up into multiple groups formed primarily by “identity” and not by class (or one’s ideological stance against psychiatry). This is NOT the approach taken by a genuine class conscious radical activist.
Need I remind you that the leaders (and other rank and file members) of the Black Panthers became more and more Marxist towards the end of that organizations existence.
A small number of these activists later joined multinational communist organizations, and this is clearly where some the Panthers most important leaders were headed before that organization’s destruction. It is clear that these more class conscious members of this organization were moving beyond *identity politics* in their political evolution.
What happened to you?
Richard, please keep your projections to yourself. You have no idea what I believe and are simply diverting the issue. The way you use terms such as “identity politics” and “self-determination” seems inconsistent with any other “leftist” analysis I’m aware of. However it’s hard to tell because once again you refuse to define your terms. Plus, are you going to tell me that the Panthers dropped their demand for self-determination for black people?
You need to spend less time worrying about what I believe, and more time creating something positive that conforms to your own vision.
Posting as moderator here:
I am feeling that this back and forth regarding who is really saying what about how antipsychiatry should move forward is unproductive and is getting kind of personal. I am not inclined to go through and moderate/edit all the negative comments and tones that are emerging, but I really think we’re all in position to hear where both parties are coming from, and I don’t see much point in trading competing accusations. I am still going to go through and remove anything egregious, but if the two of you could please take this discussion back channel, I’d appreciate it. It’s really gone quite far off the topic of the article at hand.
“You seem to want a movement that is divided up into multiple groups formed primarily by “identity” and not by class (or one’s ideological stance against psychiatry).”
A movement “divided up?” I thought this was about cohesion and unity in the collective which transcended class-based identities, given that this is such a core source of suffering in our world. If not, I’m in the wrong place.
Steve, how is this discussion off topic? It’s not only exactly about how stigma serves to divide society, it is also a perfect example of it. We’re each coming from our own perspectives, why does there need to be agreement where there cannot be?
“I really think we’re all in position to hear where both parties are coming from,” kind of reminds me of “there are fine people on both sides,” with all due respect. It may very well be so, but the truth of the matter is I think we are hearing all sides, and from that, we can make a decision about which side we feel makes the most sense and has clarity that rings true, and we go with it.
Some perspectives are irreconcilable, and we need to know that. If you moderate when things get heated, we will not get to the truth. This seems totally relevant to the issues put forth in this article.
This is a revolution for change, away from oppression and toward truth, however that comes about. And if we can’t use our voices authentically, then we are oppressed and no truth comes to light. Please reconsider.
Steve, I didn’t ask for this conversation. Richard has been stalking me since I asked LC about their maybe starting an organization for AP professionals. I don’t WANT to get a room. 🙁
Nothing, and/or nobody, can transcend class based identities or ideologies until we ultimately get rid of classes from the planet. The working class (as defined by their relationship to the means of production) is the only class that has an historical mission to create the material conditions in the world where it will some day go out of existence. That is, there will be no classes anymore of any kind.
The working class (those who hold no wealth or property of consequence) must seize power and run society for the interests of the majority. And slowly over many many generations (through education and cooperation) slowly eliminate the material basis for there to be any class distinctions in the world.
The goal is to create a world where everyone can be both a “thinker and a doer,” and live by the principle of “from each according to his/her abilities to each according to their need.”
“Nothing, and/or nobody, can transcend class based identities or ideologies until we ultimately get rid of classes from the planet.”
Richard, I see it as the other way around–class-based identity will disappear when people transcend these identities and ideologies based on power/money/class hierarchies. That would be having the power and courage to individuate from mainstream society and “the system” at large, and to disidentify from that. No one needs permission, it is our right to do so.
I think it’s an internal identification, first, which has to be taught and internalized, we’re not born with it. I will disagree about “nothing and/or nobody can transcend” these because in order to move along with my healing at the core, this is exactly what I had to do, and honestly, my life reflects this now. I have ascended this way of thinking because it is how I was able to integrate my experience. I may still inadvertently find myself in an old framework of thinking, but I catch it and shift this to update because it is my transition in thinking via self-reflection.
I come from this class crap. My family is extremely classists and snobby and othering (they used to be called “bleeding heart liberals, back in the day), and buys into all of this, mainstream is their mantra. I used to have this framework in my thinking, so of course I was perpetually in conflict between who I was in that culture, the role which I played in the system, to keep the dysfuncational system going vs. who I am, truly, creatively and spiritually, beyond all of this. Of course, that challenges the system, so it was quite an internal battle, until I got my clarity around it.
So to heal, I had to ascend class-based identity and ideology, which I had programmed inside me.
I’m not sure how much weight personal experience carries with you, but this is my example, which is an exception to your claim that “nobody can transcend class ideology until there are no classes.” No, it’s the other way around. Start transcending these, live your life as such, and class division will fall by the wayside. Starts with the individual walking their talk–the integrity which is sorely lacking in class-based mainstream. Changes everything.
Alex — No one can escape the effects of capitalism on a personal level, Richard is correct here. Otherwise all we would need is for everyone to make an attitude change. It’s a long discussion, but the essence is that capitalist oppression is based on material, i.e. economic factors.
I come from this class crap. My family is extremely classists and snobby
Glad you said that because it helps illustrate what I mean. Many people, especially those ensconced in neoliberal identity politics, reduce capitalism to “classism,” i.e. an exclusive or snobby attitude in social interactions. Mere “attitudes” can be adjusted, however the essence of capitalist slavery lies in its economic and material dominance of the Earth and ALL relations between people. This cannot be changed with an attitude adjustment, it requires the overthrow of those who hoard and control the material resources which are the natural inheritance of us all. Class divisions are enforced by police and armies, you cannot wish them away. (Not that any of this changes my support for survivor-based anti-psychiatry organizing, as any liberation struggle is defined by those most affected by a particular form of oppression.)
“an exclusive or snobby attitude in social interactions.”
No, what I mean by “snobby” is feeling superior–and believing one truly is–to others, based on the power which one wields in society, and of course money is a big factor in this, but also “formal education,” the right kind of profession, etc. And everyone else is “lesser than” and if you are “poor,” then something is wrong with you. My mother would think that person has a drug or “mental” problem.
I worked in retail for 17 years, quite successful at it. They were waiting for me to do something of value with my life. I was happy, living freely and independently, all the while diagnosed and on “meds,” as this was after my initial breakdown. Go figure.
My dad was always railing against “capitalism,” and lived like a king.
It is more than an attitude, it is a falsely projected and extremely distorted (and somewhat grotesque) perception of people (including their self-perception), ALL based on “class,” and specifically, how much money one has and what one does for a living, and even whether or not they read the “right literary books” and understand and can discuss with knowledge current political events, etc. This is how they would measure the worth and quality of a person. That’s what I mean by “snobby,”–when there is a right vs wrong way to be in that world, based on the most superficial stuff I can imagine. Quite the tiny little box in which to fit, talk about oppressive!
“the essence of capitalist slavery lies in its economic and material dominance of the Earth and ALL relations between people.”
I honestly think that one can have power over this if one can perceive it on a bigger picture level. The power to “dominate” relies on the perceived powerlessness of those who are dominated, and that is done by programming, propoganda, and fear-mongering. Get beyond all of that and don’t buy into the fear, trust the process of change and transition, feel that trust over the fear (because one can perceive past the programming which is personally empowering because that is what returns to us when we “de-program”/awaken), and another reality emerges, which transcends this toxic matrix. I think this is where “expanding consciousness” is most relevant.
So no, I am not saying it is an “attitude change” per se, but more of a shift in perspective, which is much more powerful and reality-altering than simply a change in “attitude,” to include more information which can be garnered by expanding consciousness and seeing beyond the illusions which make one feel trapped in the matrix. For me, that has been the path to freedom, and I am living it and manifesting from it. That is my new reality (and it is shared by my partner, I’m not alone in this).
And you’re right, beyond this it is a very long discussion, not for this venue. But this is where I stand right now, based on what I’ve experienced and learned along the way. Still a matter of waking up, regardless of anything. That’s enough to bring hardy change in the moment, and it gets the ball rolling for even more expansive change.
I do think it’s about “new consciousness” more than anything, and from that, a lot of inspiration comes while the system becomes more and more disempowered thanks to more and more awakening happening. Who needs “the system” (of any kind outside of ourselves) once we know our own power and self-resourcefulness?
And I completely agree with your paranthetical statement at the end, that is my steadfast belief, as well.
Consciousness is not independent of the material reality in which it is nurtured. Certainly there are realizations or epiphanies on a personal level which can help an individual navigate the contradictions more effectively, e.g. when you see Babylon falling get out of the way. But rarely can you meditate away a line of riot cops (though you could potentially convince them to drop their weapons and break ranks).
“Consciousness is not independent of the material reality in which it is nurtured.”
On this we agree. My perspective, specifically, is that consciousness creates material reality. Shift consciousness, change reality.
“But rarely can you meditate away a line of riot cops (though you could potentially convince them to drop their weapons and break ranks).”
This reality is based on matrix (mainstream oppression) consciousness. It’s been passed down through the ages, one way or another, taking one form or another. It has been the global consciousness for a good long while, and this is what many of us are working to shift, starting with on a consciousness level, so that it will, in turn, ground into physical reality.
And when I say “us,” in this case I mean energy workers, teachers, and healers like me. This is our foundation, that consciousness creates physical reality as we experience it. In my line of work, we call this “grounding light to the Earth.” It is real, and physical, but it begins with consciousness.
Were we to see beyond this matrix reality (which is an extremely limited perspective, that’s the idea) and practice new thoughts, new beliefs, new energies, along with the naturally following new awareness of our multi-dimensional communication, then as an awakened collective, we could, indeed, dissolve this reality you describe by shifting away from the fear based belief that we (in general, anyone) are powerless. Not like close your eyes and *poof* it’s gone. But one can begin a process through intention and follow it.
In a system like we’ve got going, which is what has been ruling the world, there are a lot of dominoes to fall, but it doesn’t happen all at once. It has to start somewhere, however, and it’s anyone’s guess where that would be, so we follow our own logic and intuition about this, from whatever vantage point we come.
Best I can do with this in this forum. I’ve appreciated the exchange, oldhead. It’s given me a lot of clarity in the process. I’ve thought about this, too, for a good long while. Been the main theme for me in all of this (you know, my obssession with “stigma” and all), and I’ve applied a lot of changes which have brought fruitful results. I believe that can be generalized, but we’ll see what happens from here. No one can predict the future, but I do feel we can lend a powerful and conscious hand in creating a desirable one.
Shift of consciousness may, or may not, change how you view reality, but I don’t think it does a thing to influence anything except our own actions, thoughts, beliefs. I don’t think an attitude change or “shift of consciousness” (the same thing!) are going to change the actions of others. Actually, to do so, if it were possible, would be a freakish act of control.
If a woman is being beaten or abused by her husband, she can do all she wants with her attitude but that isn’t going to change him. Why? Because if this were true then he would be beating her not because he’s being cruel but due to her supposed “attitude.” Obviously this is a very blameful approach to take.
She might, though, read a cool book, or meet a new group of friends who influence her to have the courage to walk out. Here, her attitude change didn’t stop him or change him, but gave her the courage to leave.
On the other hand, lack of her own money is going to be one of those huge roadblocks to a successful exodus, one that can’t be produced by an attitude, or wishful thinking. Maybe luck will work better.
My dad was always railing against “capitalism,” and lived like a king.
Two different levels here. I don’t know what your father does, but unless he’s a billionaire he can know the experience of his labor being exploited by others for profit, it’s just a matter of degree; just as a football player can have a million dollar contract as the team stockholders makes exponentially more from his performance. Marx himself came from the upper classes; this doesn’t preclude one from being conscious of the system’s workings, sometimes it makes that understanding sharper.
Also briefly, on the level you are referencing, I believe consciousness and matter create each other simultaneously; there is no chicken or egg.
Interesting that we all have our different takes and perspectives about reality. I’d call that normal.
I’m going to say it again. The antipsychiatry movement and the psychiatric survivor movement are two different and distinct things. Should you want an antipsychiatry movement without professionals, you will only get a clique. The psychiatric survivor movement at one time was antipsychiatric however this movement in general bailed out on antipsychiatry over slices of government funding pie. The antipsychiatry movement never betrayed the psychiatric survivor movement, it was the other way around. Antipsychiatry was, is, and shall always be opposition to psychiatry. Always, that is, until there is no more psychiatry, and thus no need for antipsychiatry.
I am interested in your point. I’ve been thinking and learning about co-option a lot in recent years. A friend who is in the disability arts movement said that it used to be about attacking the system and pointing out how disabled people are excluded from society. Now it is brave artistic cripples showing how great they are funded by big lottery money.
Disability Arts on the whole lost it’s bite and got co-opted. Some think the LGBT+ movement did too. All same sex marriage and queers in the military while young queers are at risk of homelessness as benefits are cut to young people in the UK making those in homo and transphobic homes at risk of homelessness.
Government funding always comes with strings – and that means criticizing the government is weakened as organisations get paid off. The rebel is never paid for by the master.
If it’s a matter of the government buying off disaffected members of a community, the government is very good at doing that. Once we had conferences against human rights violations and oppression, now we’ve got conferences for “alternatives”, “alternatives” to human rights violations and oppression. When these “alternatives”, for their very existence, must make some sort of concessions to the very oppression and human rights violations that they would be offered as an exception to, I think the compromise has become too extreme. What we’ve got is system expansion, a constantly operating business, a growing psycho-pharmaceutical, perhaps even prison, industrial complex. Given this facet of the matter, “alternatives” to business as usual can become a sort of release valve facilitating business as usual. I kind of think putting money into dismantling the “mental illness” system makes much more sense than putting more money into expanding this system, and with it, the “pandemic”, and flourishing of the “mental disability” lifestyle (in a nutshell, increased, and increasingly popular, “chronicity”).
” no more psychiatry” you have to be realistic and recognize some people like and want psychiatry. People want to play patient and doctor.
To ban psychiatry would be like to ban a religion.You can’t do it.
Religions have been banned in the past.
Of course then it was practiced underground. Are you saying this would happen with psychiatry Mark?
For what it’s worth Szazs said people demanding drugs and brain mutilations had the right to pay for them.
first the general public does not want psychiatry banned
second organized religion uses psychiatry for the sin of sloth, known today as depression, so they don’t want it gone
third psychiatry is part of the law, the accused must be sane to go to court. too obvious,too much proof of a killing from anger and the person is automatically “insane”
How does it get banned?
Mark — First you decide whether or not something is desirable, not whether it’s “practical” or popular; at that point you start figuring out how to make it happen. Theoretically and ultimately psychiatry could and will be abolished by popular consent, like alchemy. But there are laws that could help speed up the process, such as forbidding psychiatry to pose as a branch of medicine.
Alchemy abolished!? Forbid the thought! I think we can and should get rid of institutional psychiatry, that is, psychiatric prisons masquerading as hospitals. I think it will require legislation though to do so. Just like the institution of slavery, institutional psychiatry is not going to go out without a fight. As is, it’s an uphill struggle convincing most people that psychiatry isn’t about medicine, it’s actually about social control. Talking about ‘abolishing psychiatry’, without specifics, however, I just see as mere rhetoric. If a person thinks talking to a shrink is helpful, I wouldn’t stop them from consulting a shrink. Ditto, a witch-doctor.
Diagnosis, the declaration that a person is mentally inferior, is a hate crime. From what I know, hate crimes can’t be stopped but they can at least be made illegal and punishable.
Alchemy abolished!? Forbid the thought!
By one definition of “abolish” (there are several) alchemy has been abolished by popular consent. That doesn’t mean it’s illegal, just irrelevant. Though by another definition of “abolish” it might be decreed; if its practice was causing obvious harm people would generally support that as well.
I don’t think rendering irrelevant is what one meant when one spoke of abolishing slavery. Human trafficking, and what are referred to as the occult sciences, are very much at a remove from one another. Some people go to a tarot deck for counseling, or amusement, for instance. The definitions of abolish that I’ve seen are a little stronger than what you’re implying.
“Word Origin and History for abolish
mid-15c., from Middle French aboliss- , present participle stem of abolir “to abolish” (15c.), from Latin abolere “destroy, cause to die out, retard the growth of,” perhaps from ab- “from” (see ab-) + adolere “to grow,” from PIE *ol-eye- , causative of root *al- “to grow, nourish” (see old), and perhaps formed as an antonym to adolere . But the Latin word rather could be from a root in common with Greek ollymi , apollymi “destroy.” Tucker writes that there has been a confusion of forms in Latin, based on similar roots, one meaning “to grow,” the other “to destroy.” Application to persons and concrete objects has long been obsolete. Related: Abolished ; abolishing.”
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Definition of abolish
: to end the observance or effect of (something, such as a law) : to completely do away with (something) : annul abolish a law abolish slavery
I don’t think you completely do away with anything by merely declaring it irreverent.
I appreciate very much all that you are writing about and doing to combat all forms of psychiatric oppression. Your above cited paragraphs do touch on the outskirts of the points I raised, but obviously not deep enough to suit my liking, or what I think is critically necessary for us to do in our exposure of the entire oppressive Medical Model paradigm.
Our movement (in its infancy) is fundamentally a human rights struggle. I believe that it is now essential that all modern day human rights struggles closely link their movements to a broader movement against a profit based capitalist system.
This does NOT mean that people must be totally convinced or united around the belief that the world needs socialism or a classless communist world (which is my firm belief). They only need to see the serious problems and connections between the Psychiatric/Pharmaceutical/Industrial/Complex AND the way the profit motive corrupts science, medicine, the environment etc. and everything else it touches.
If we fail to do this (for the fear of alienating potential allies) then we will miss important opportunities to draw the increasing more obvious links between psychiatric oppression and a class based capitalist system.
Historically, when human rights movements start off “watering down” their analysis of oppression (in order to go super broad), it almost always leads into reformism and co-optation by the “Powers That Be.”
So I would say a slogan that was often said in the 60’s as an important strategic method: “Unite the advanced first to win over the intermediate and neutralize the backward.”
And when you think about how volatile the world is today, we don’t have the time to wait around for people to somehow grow tired of the capitalist system. In the mean time this planet will be destroyed by either environmental destruction and/or imperialist wars, both directly tied to capitalism.
So we must take every AND any opportunity to expose capitalism as we also expose psychiatric oppression – because , in the real world, they are truly deeply connected. We are simply telling the people the truth when we do this kind of political exposure.
“One would be: intervene and identify early. And we should begin with screening: in schools, colleges, primary care settings, workplace. In individuals who are identified as having symptoms or in incipient stages or at imminent risk, referrals could be made to specialized programs for mood, anxiety, psychotic disorders, that had an array of different services that are evidence based and known to help.”
I find this highly disturbing.
In my view, some psychiatrists dream of psychiatry establishing a “moral dictatorship”, a totalitarian system. They believe psychiatry’s benevolence is only limited by its power. They aren’t aware of the fact that they have self-interests which in times conflict with their patients’ self-interests, not to mention the role of interests of other parties like relatives or society. They are blind to the limits of their knowledge and to the fact that they at times make mistakes, huge mistakes.
They haven’t learned from history. There have already been attempts to build moral dictatorships.
We need “real’ psyche. The problem with psychiatry is that they treat psychological reality as something fake or useless. It is all about language they should use to describe it….That language does not exists. Psyche does not exists, because of that sad fact. We need human language, not medical jargon to describe psychological reality.
James Hillman created that language.Psychiatry created only false empiricism. We need human meaning of psyche, not pseudo medical (theological) condemnation.
“Re -Visioning psychology” James Hillman. When we imagine, we create new reality. And now, we can only imagine that reality we need. Imagination, politeism is the key to know the psyche. Purism and monotheism is poison for psyche.
Believe me or not, but, the first 60 pages of Re-Visioning psychology has completely changed my attitude toward human psychology. Hillman was an amazing thinker and also the one almost completely unknown.. That is why I want to share his amazing kind of thinking with others.
That book is a treasure and a burden at the same time.
Truth has its burden, especially in the world full of lies. Wisdom is all we have. So I sowing a small seed of the future, today.
The great ideas is all we have.
OK at first glance I assumed this was another nominally anti-psychiatry article by a “progressive” psychiatrist but the more I read the more it comes across as a defense of psychiatry and the deadly “polite” society it serves to enforce. As such it has a specific point of view, over and above the obvious and no-brainer “main” point that forced psychiatry must go.
It strikes me that maybe Lee hasn’t checked into the state of anti-psychiatry consciousness for a while, as while there’s not a lot to dispute in his deconstructions, for most longtime MIA readers much of this is platitudinous; most of us know that psychiatric terminologies and narratives are bullshit, and why. What he doesn’t manage to get to is the inevitable conclusion that psychiatry must go — and not just eventually in some as-yet unimaginable utopian future.
Those who recognize the need to end forced psychiatry come from all walks of life, races, sexes, political persuasions, etc. So, if any group of people takes the initiative to attempt such a project, it is CRUCIAL that the effort be limited specifically to the issue of legal force, and without lots of tangential issues attached which inevitably will reflect extraneous agendas. It should NOT portray itself as “the movement.” Such an initiative should represent itself as a coalition based solely on the issue of forced “treatment,” and open to any person or group who wishes to affiliate on that basis. It must also be free of manipulation and power plays, which will ultimately determine the success or failure of the effort. And, while this would not be an automatic deal-breaker for me personally, it should probably not have a hierarchical structure with a psychiatrist at the top. Finally:
We must keep it simple and keep it strong, never afraid to show our emotions, but always remaining professional. We must be credible teachers
Once again with the “we” — who is this “we,” and what “profession” do you believe “we” should emulate, and in whose interests? I know a number of of VERY credible teachers who have no hesitation in shouting “Fuck This Shit!” as the occasion demands. Rage on, y’all!
Doctors and journalists can hardly go beyond the polite criticism of psychiatry, because their caste. They can not say, for example, that their colleagues should be arrested, even if basically the solution to all this mess is in physical action, and not in intellectual discussion.
On the other hand, I do not really see how psychiatry could be abolished without abolishing the current state.
As Richard D. Lewis puts it, psychiatry is an instrument of state repression for social regulation, in families, at school and at work. It is also a very lucrative business. The state will not let go of its instrument of repression before being destroyed, nor offend the interests it serves.
There are no problems, only solutions. 🙂
To expand, I believe any serious effort needs to begin by recognizing that we are dealing with a police agency, not a branch of medicine that can be “reformed.” However it’s also a house of cards in a way that most police forces are not, as it depends on people’s acceptance of an extremely flimsy narrative, ever in danger of reaching an “Emperor’s New Clothes” moment among the populace.
In the capitalist “market place of ideas” anti-psychiatry is easily tolerated as “just another idea in the marketplace among millions of other ideas.”
But when anti-psychiatry becomes more and more closely linked with a growing movement against capitalism, then and only then, will it get the attention it deserves. Because it will now become a threat to the very class of people that the Medical Model overall serves and protects.
Antipsychiatry is rejected by most anti-capitalists; it cannot become “closely linked” to anti-capitalism.
“Psychiatry is a harmful narrative, metaphor, oxymoron and pseudo biology”; that is the message that I believe will best promote antipsychiatry (as well as better economics and politics).
It is also a police agency disguised as a branch of medicine, which is also a major understanding that needs to be driven home to all people, who are not stupid as a rule, except that the institutions and “credible” sources to which they have been conditioned to look to for official information have all relentlessly pounded the narrative of “mental health” their entire lives, to the point that they don’t question it. But most people are instinctively open to the possibility that psychiatry is bullshit, they just need some coherent explanations of exactly why it is.
You said: “Antipsychiatry is rejected by most anti-capitalists; it cannot become “closely linked” to anti-capitalism.”
That is part of the important work that Left Wing anti-psychiatry activists have in the coming period. We must make all the very real connections between psychiatry and capitalism and educate the more conscious activists.
Since more and more people are being drugged and harm by the Medical Model, these links are not that hard to make. And when we make some headway on this, it will help energize a vital human rights struggle in it infancy.
Here in the UK anti-capitalists have worked with anti-psychiatry, survivors. It has not happened a lot but it does happen occasionally.
At the moment I am working on an anti austerity project that did for a while work with survivors. So although it is not a common alliance it is possible.
One of the problems is that politics is now dominated by the middle class, who find challanging professinals very difficult. For example I spammed the wellbeing e-mail list for Occupy in London with an anti psychiatry protest flyer and all the professional on it, who were helping support the homeless people that Occupy attracted, were appaled. I was most gratified to see the uproar I provoked on their e-mail list!
I think it would be more correct to say that antipsychiatry is rejected by autocrats and authoritarians. Psychiatry, being a form of blatant social manipulation and control, the authoritarian and autocratic personality knows on which side his or her bread is buttered.
If I understand all this correctly then the problem is not psychiatry, but a society who have always been fearful of troubled people and their troubling behaviour. Society has then given psychiatry the license to deal with this “problem” in any way they see fit and in the process scientific considerations have become irrelevant. Moreover, the casualties of psychiatry’s approach are largely tolerated by society in the same way collateral damage is accepted in war as it served a purpose and was aimed at meeting the broader need to feel safe.
I disagree with your analogy; I consider psychiatry to be a fear mongering, secular religion that addresses emotional suffering (emotional pain) consistent with the way “demonic possession” is a fear mongering religious belief that addresses emotional suffering. With “demonic possession”, emotional suffering is considered an affront to religion; the logic goes that if people truly believe, then they would not be suffering emotionally. With psychiatry and its myth of “mental illness”, the logic goes that our culture is fair and just and therefore the marginalized and disenfranchised must be malfunctioning “mentally” with a medical (biological) problem.
Except that not only marginalized and disenfranchised people suffer from the effects of capitalism, which are not just measured in terms of wealth distribution. So does our collective psyche. The psychic dynamic of capitalism is to alienate people from their labor and its products, meaning that our labor is not motivated by the desire to make a shoe or a car we can’t ever afford to buy, but simply to make a wage to survive. This applies to all areas of life in one way or another — i.e. all human activity is dominated by the corporate bottom line. However these are forbidden thoughts, so we have “diagnoses” for those who harbor them, and others for those who are less organized or articulate in their instinctive reactions to oppression.
Please allow me to amend my above statement to: “With psychiatry and its myth of ‘mental illness’, the logic goes that life is fair and just (in the community) and therefore emotional suffering must be caused by a malfunctioning ‘mind’- with a medical (biological) problem.” Pathologizing natural emotional suffering is a tool that delegitimizes personal traumas (like child abuse) as well as political and economic injustice and alienation.
Yes, Hillman wrote about psychiatry and its theological connections. This is ideological disaster. It is actually a form of hidden anti psychological fundamentalism, hidden hatred.
“Manufacture of madness” was also the greatest book I have read, Jesus, that book is terrifying.
I would add these slight changes to your summation:
Psychiatry is a subset problem of a much larger problem, that is a very oppressive capitalist system that overwhelmingly harms the vast majority of people on the planet, ALL for the benefit of a relatively tiny propertied class of power hungry exploiters. This class based profit system stands as THE major obstacle to advancing human progress on the planet.
Thanks for this blog Dr. Coleman and your support to expose the harm being done by mental health professionals. Until I found this site I had no knowledge of the widespread oppression and harm done by psychiatry and actually thought my traumatizing experience was an anomaly. Some who were harmed want to see the day psychiatry is abolished and I certainly understand why but given that most psychiatrists deny and adamantly refuse to even consider that what they are doing is deceitful, as well as horribly harmful and destructive, I am grateful for any support or validation from a professional in the field.
Thank you so much Rosalee. There is a growing community of persons trying to bring good information and non-medical alternatives to a wider and wider audience, as well as change the laws that permit the kinds of things you speak of. I personally welcome you to that community!
Thank you! And thanks for the link to your website. Very interesting reading! I almost fell off my chair reading the letter you received from Barbara Cay White in 1985. You have been a crusader for justice for a very long time! I hope all the collective voices keep growing and getting louder.
Lee, thanks for a really helpful blog, which helps me understand the state of play in the US, which of course flows across to the UK. Mental illness is in my genes: my father, although he held down a full-time job, developing paranoid schizophrenia in his 50s: he had ECT and strong medication, and gradually re-emerged as a humbler, softer man: a big relief. And then my younger brother, Eric. Eric became addicted to cannabis at 14, and then heroin at 18. (Eric had been my father’s scapegoat, as he denied his mental health problems and extreme anger.) It was a sad and very chaotic upbringing.
Some of those events repeated in my family. How our young brains map and then unconsciously repeat warped patterns. (No blame, or shame, just observation.)
When my mental illness popped up in 2012, I saw it for what it was. Deep and utter grief at the poor relationship between my husband and our only, much loved, son and 4 family deaths in 7 years: one a suicide (Eric.) I see it all as expressions of Grief. Grief makes sense to me.
When I was really ill – what some would describe as ‘psychotic’, but I describe as grief-stricken, I found a counsellor who was somewhat smug; the next year I found a consultant psychologist who really didn’t help. I tried Sertraline – 50mg – but tapered off after 3 months, as it made me feel ‘whoo whoo.’ Both found it hard to accept the soulful me, who has prophetic dreams and a deep Christian faith (I no longer go to church – I was asked to leave after 12 years because I support same-sex marriage.)
My soul knew it needed the right teacher and helper. Happily, I discovered Russell Razzaque’s book “Breaking Down is Waking up” in 2014, and went to the first Open Dialogue conference in 2015. The dialogic, family systemic therapy made total sense to me: the listening and sitting with what emerges, not labelling or judging it. Just sitting with, and repeating the patient’s phrases: very life-affirming.
I was lucky enough to be in the first pilot when it was rolled out across the UK, via GP recommendations. (Two stipulations: not being on any other therapy and being able to travel to their offices in Barking, east London.) Even more fortunate that Russell was my lead clinician! Slowly, slowly, he and his team helped me root down to and explore the real trauma in my childhood (not imagined) and gradually rebuild my shattered, grief-stricken psyche.
I spoke about my experiences at the 2017 conference, along with 3 other patients. (I was the only one who wasn’t hospitalised.) Afterwards, two mental health professionals accused me of being mentally ill – for those few minutes, I saw the deep problem in the profession. The unwillingness to accept people’s vulnerability as part of being human. I challenged both, firmly telling one “you may consider me mentally ill, but I see myself as spiritually well.” He had no answer – he thought like a robot!
Today, I’m part of a small group of OD Champions (most are parents with children in long-term institutions) helping to re-educate professionals and over time, society, to the need for a gentle approach to shattering times. I’ve read about RD Laing and Soteria. There are times when all humans are unwell, because they’re so grief stricken – naturally – about events, and sometimes people’s cruelty not of their making. This manifests in all kinds of ways. I don’t label it as I’m not a professional, but I am compassionate.
Today, I’m retired and mentor people to quit drinking (alcohol misuse was one of my problems – now that’s well behind me thankfully). I also chat to and buy food for homeless people, both here and wherever I travel in the world (there are far too many in the US, too.) In other words, I have an abundant life and share my abundance with people cruelly stigmatised and marginalised. We are all frail and fragility is part of the human condition. Society is conditioning us to be robot-like, of that I am sure. In the months and years ahead, I look forward to sitting with and affirming those suffering distress. I’ve been there and know how dark it is. My darkness is also utterly me, and where my light also resides: the eternal Yin and Yang. No competition just collaborating with each other…..
Namaste, Lee and everyone here……
Thank you so much for your kind words about the blog and for telling everyone your background. Your story reminds me of Laura Delano’s brilliant YouTube discussions, especially the one I referenced in the blog—“The Power of Psychiatric Diagnosis”– such insight, emotion- truly a powerful combination. So you are in good company and keep up the great work.
By the way, I have experienced myself something like your ” two mental health professionals accused me of being mentally ill.” If you check out my http://www.coleman.nyghtfalcon.com (The Lee Coleman Collection) you can read on the home page a letter from Barbara Cay White, MD way back in 1985. I know you and others will enjoy it!
All the best
Here is my favorite line: “The beautiful thing about psychiatry’s pronouncements is that no one can ever prove them wrong.”
This is very true, not only of diagnosers, but of lay people also. If another person views you as psychotic, personality-disordered, or otherwise MI, you don’t stand a chance, and you can never prove them wrong. I have tried to point this out to Governor Wolf (Pennsylvania) because of this new proposed legislation on gun control. The first two parts are fine but they also want to label people as “extreme risk” and then treat them with force, the object being to remove all weapons from them. I have pointed out to him that to be thus labeled wrecks a person’s life. And what if the “extreme risk” determination is incorrect? Now what?
He and the other legislators proposed that if a person contests the “extreme risk” diagnosis, they should present their case in court. I told Gov Wolf that this won’t work, as insanity, once proclaimed, cannot be disproved. I think this was determined by the field of philosophy and logic quite some time ago.
For this reason, I recommend that if you are seen as dangerous by a set group of people you should remove yourself from that situation ASAP and start over where they don’t know you. And then, just act responsible and people will never know about your misfortunes of the past.
No doubt about it–anything that gets into the legal arena, those of us raising questions about psychiatric pronouncement have a difficult job because the judge, members of a jury, etc. are all enthralled by the assumed expertise of all “mental health professionals.” My approach has for decades been one that keeps going back to an exposure of the lack of any scientific, reliable methodology behind the opinions being offered. I have done a lot of work training attorneys to adopt this approach when they cross-examine experts, and when I testify myself it is always to talk about what Psychiatry can’t do, never to opine on the issues Psychiatry loves to claim it can do.
I have talked about a lot of these legal issues in my YouTube channel Psychiatry and Society. Just look for the ones about Psychiatry and Law. Doesn’t matter so much whether the subject is something like Insanity Defense or determinations of whether a child has been molested, etc. You might find them helpful because they all talk about why the Courts are being contaminated by phony expertise from Psychiatry.
Thanks for getting in touch.
“If it were recognized by our people that science is irrelevant to the debate over whether society’s fears should trump individual rights to liberty, then we could begin what will be the long struggle to win such a debate.”
I wonder if you and so many on this website are kind of missing what I see as the key issue because of the hatred of psychiatry. Psychiatry really is nothing more than a tool despite some giving it anthropomorphic qualities on this site. I agree with most here that it’s a terrible tool and it’s based on misinformation and it is anti-scientific in many ways. But in the end, it’s just a tool.
But I think so many of these debates miss the real point. Psychiatry is a horrible tool that people feel compelled to use because of their fears of mental health issues based on their lack of understanding what is going on. Even on this website, people use the term ‘extreme states’ but outside of drug-induced states, I’ve always wondered why the survivors would be wiling to use this designation as it seems to lend credence to the fears others have of these manifestations.
My wife has d.i.d., Lee. The first time she dropped to the floor in what I thought was a catatonic state, I kind of freaked out. But then the next time it happened, I kept my brain working, and I tried something. I went thru the current list of alters and lo and behold, Ally the defender popped out. I learned a lesson that day: she wasn’t really catatonic: I just had to find out to whom the baton had been passed. A fear is vanquished.
The first time my wife went into what looked like a series of mini-seizures, I about freaked out again, as her eyes rolled back into her sockets and they fluttered in rapid motion. But the next time, my brain was working again, and I realized, “Oh, this is kind of like a computer that is glitching when it tries to switch programs but gets stuck.” So then I learned to help her thru those switches that get hung up for some reason. Another fear gone.
One of the original times my wife went into a flash back, I was back in freak out mode, her fear driving mine, and then midstream, I chilled out, and I began to speak calmly to her, remind her she’s not alone, I’ve got her now, she’s safe now, and I pulled her out of that flash back. Another fear gone.
One by one the issues that we had to confront because of her d.i.d. lost their ability to induce fear in either of us as we came to an understanding of what was going on and how I could help her thru each issue the best. If you were to go on WordPress and read the blogs of other people with d.i.d., they are full of fear and hatred of things that my wife and I have come to learn are just part of the healing experience. Some are more annoying than others, but none of them cause either of us any ‘fear’ any more.
It is fear that drives people to use horrible tools like psychiatry. Fear shuts down our brains and makes otherwise intelligent people into mindless caricatures of themselves. And yet when we were first starting our journey 11 years ago, most of the professional literature was as ignorant of the mechanics of her manifestations as we were originally. So we had to learn the ropes pretty much on our own.
And I will posit that if others were simply taught what is going on, that these NON-drug induced manifestations really aren’t ‘extreme’ but simply stronger versions of many things I have experienced myself as a non-trauma victim, their fears would dissipate like mine did. Once I learned to see so many of her experiences as just reflective of my own, the last vestiges of ‘non-normalcy’ fled, and so at this point, we live a rather humdrum life that happens to have 8 girls (alters) part of our marriage rather than one.
This isn’t about class warfare like my Leftist friends believe. This isn’t about social control. This isn’t about an anthropomorphic psychiatry preying upon victims. In my opinion, the real issue is simply about people, both the victims and those around them, being overwhelmed by fear because they don’t understand the very natural things that are going on in the brain/mind when trauma isn’t properly processed. I argued in another thread on MIA, that if we simply would learn to see mental trauma the same as physical trauma, then all these mental manifestations would be seen no different than what occurs during the convalescent period of, say, a severely broken leg. There’s no stigma in a broken leg. We all know what to expect, and we don’t expect that person to be back up to full speed until the healing is done and any physical therapy that may be required afterwards.
Sam, you might want to check out his books Reign of Error and Has A Child Been Molested. I’m guessing he doesn’t think much of the “trauma experts” and their diagnonsense, but I’ll admit I’m intensely curious how/if he will respond to this.
Are you suggesting that the current dilapidated and destructive state of psychiatry as a profession is not strongly linked to corruption within the field, due to huge financial incentives and the desire for professional credentials and power? I can’t agree that the current state of affairs is solely the result of confusion and fear on the part of professionals and others who want to make things more comfortable. This plays a role, but what I see is the APA and the drug companies SELLING an idea that somehow they have a magical solution in the form of a pill that will obviate the need for the kind of personal work and commitment that you and I both know is really necessary to do things like healing attachments and gaining insight into the impact of traumatic experiences and learning how to love oneself enough to stand up and take action in an increasingly hostile world.
So I agree that the psychiatric model is a tool, but I don’t believe it’s designed to actually accomplish the things that you have spent much of your adult life working towards. I see the model being designed to make things more comfortable for those in control and to increase financial gain for big corporations and associated “professionals” who profit from having clients that never get better. If this were not the case, why is the APA so resistant to the evidence that these drugs are only useful, if they ever are, for short-term suppression of symptoms, and that long-term use creates the very problems that they purport to address? Why the powerful resistance within the ranks to the results of their own research, if not to protect their personal prerogatives and their funding?
well, just as you and I agreed on the other thread that attachment theory isn’t a ‘cure all’, I would suggest that this subject is complex and multi-layered, and I don’t think any one perspective will ever do it justice. But what I’m suggesting is that Big Pharma and the APA are the modern-day equivalent of those selling ‘magic elixirs’ and ‘snake oil’ cures a few centuries ago. They prey on people’s fears of whatever was/is ailing them at the time.
Steve, this problem affects EVERY class despite the suggestions of the Marxists on this site, and though it may hit the lower classes the hardest, neither my wife nor I grew up there. What I see is fear driving this and Big Pharma and the APA simply capitalizing on that fear. Take away the fear and people would have no need to turn to them. Teach them the things my wife and I learned, and mental health issues move from the category of fear of the incomprehensible that only the APA priesthood can divine, to mostly the same hardships and annoyances of a severely broken leg until it is healed.
As for Big Pharma and the APA, of course they are going to fight this: I completely agree for them this is all about money and power. But they can’t force any of this on us despite the laws suggesting to the contrary if it weren’t for fear. I overcame my fears and never even considered committing my wife despite how hard things have been, and so they had no ability to touch my wife despite all the laws out there used to incarcerate so many on this site.
Anything at all can be a tool. If you call it that or recognize that you’re using it that way. I had friends back in the day who went to psychs solely to serve their addiction to the pills. The idea was to go to a shrink to get your fix, whether it was anti-d’s, anti-p’s or of course, benzos. Only they didn’t use the word “fix.” They would go and plead their cases, claiming just how “anxious” they were, and would leave with their next month’s worth of hits. They got mad when the shrink wouldn’t be their dealer, claiming the shrink didn’t understand or wasn’t “doing anything” to help them. They never realized that addiction and dependency on the pills was the cause.
Hello Sam and kindred spirit, and anyone else interested. Sam, we have chatted just once I believe, and then I didn’t want to continue with the rather spirited differences of opinion that ensued a few weeks ago. But I guess I’m being asked to respond and so I will.
Sam, your dedication to your wife is admirable but when you are engaging in online discussions, ones that interact with other peoples struggles, I think you have to be prepared for whatever comes your way. What I offer is sincerely meant only to let my opinion be known, once asked.
When you are so strongly dedicated to the label “D.I.D”., you must know that this is only a refurbished “Multiple Personality Disorder.” Indeed, kindred spirit I don’t think much of the “trauma experts,” but it is worse than that. They are hurting countless thousands of people with their claims of “dissociation”, etc.
Where do you think the holocaust that has come to thousands of persons falsely accused and not infrequently convicted of child sexual abuse got its start– from the kind of thing I discuss in my YouTube discussions of the McMartin case or on my website http://www.coleman.nyghtfalcon.com The Lee Coleman Collection/home/documents/books You can read Has A Child Been Molested. I am in the process of posting more articles, some on these same topics- on such outrages as “The Courage to Heal” or “Secret Survivors.” Don’t be fooled into thinking that psychiatrists are the only ones full of BS. Tons of other “mental health professionals.”
So Sam, I hope you might ponder this? How can your love of and dedication to your wife require you to hold on to the inventions of certain “professionals” who make claims that are empty and dangerous?
My sincere best wishes to you both and to everyone
hmmm…I tried to go back and find the discussion between you and me, but either something is wrong with my browser or this website. So I’m sorry if I don’t remember it.
I’m not sure why you would characterize me as “so strongly dedicated to the label of d.i.d.” We’ve had this debate ad nauseum on this website of whether or not to use the common vernacular or do we start from scratch every time for the benefit of newcomers? I do understand that to those who have had those diagnoses weaponized by the mental health system have a far more adverse reaction to being diagnosed than either I or my wife does since the ‘diagnosis’ simply gave us a starting point and then we pretty much went our own way from there.
As for your dislike of the ‘trauma experts’, take a number. I downloaded the guidelines from ISSTD and did a line by line critique of them: pretty much if you take their guidelines and do the EXACT OPPOSITE, it would give you a pretty good idea of how my wife and I have approached her healing. So if you are going to judge me by their ignorance and excesses, you would be greatly amiss, but whatever…
Since you feel you have nothing to learn from our experience, I will try to remember THIS discussion and not bother you again.
Sincerely wishing you the best,
Ok, Lee, well, I was able to get the previous comments by you to work this morning…and you’ve only made 13 in total on this website. None of them was directed to me. Now if you are referencing the ‘spirited’ dialogue between me and Kindred Spirit about d.i.d., at least I have a reference point.
It would appear from your comments about the ‘holocaust’ of falsely accused persons that you are trapped in some kind of time warp back at the beginning of the mpd movement and the hype and excesses that went on. Are you a member of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation as well? If so, there’s really nothing I can say to open your eyes that even the so-called trauma experts have left those excesses behind decades ago.
And if you don’t believe in dissociation, there really is little basis on which to have a discussion when that concept is about as accepted as gravity. But again, I’m sure you can point to the ignorance of ISSTD and make your case from strawmen about something that doesn’t really exist.
I’m sorry if ISSTD is driving your understanding of trauma and dissociation. It certainly doesn’t drive our understanding of things, or my wife would never have made the progress she has.
Sam, I truly believe that false memories can indeed be induced, and often, induced by therapy. It’s not hard to do this, as a mere suggestion can alter one’s thinking about a past event and can cause a person to re-frame that event in a negative or positive way. Either of these can be harmful.
For instance, if a child is abused by his/her parents, a suggestive remark by a therapist might cause the now-grown child to believe that their parents were “doing what was in their best interest,” even though it very well may not have been.
In the other direction, I have seen therapists re-frame non-traumatic events as traumatic, in order to point out parental harm that didn’t even exist. I witnessed one patient who was told repeatedly that there was something terribly wrong with his upbringing, and yet, the events that this patient later told me about were not incidents of child abuse or neglect. The patient rejected therapy early on, thankfully.
I cannot tell you how often culture played a part in this. My Jewish upbringing was constantly called a dysfunction by the therapists. I didn’t know whom to blame for my supposed mental illness so I ended up thinking my parents were bad parents. To fill in the void that resulted because I couldn’t actually recall any specific events, I filled in the blanks with false memories. Vague ones, but the harm was done, sad to say. It takes years or even decades to undo this.
I’m not refuting the idea of false memories. The science is pretty solid that shows how easily our memories can be manipulated and changed and even ‘created.’ But the FMSF takes it to an entirely new level to discount any and all memories that might be recovered during the process of healing. I won’t get into the politics of the group, but they had a lot riding on their vehemence to mpd/did and sadly, the excesses of the so-called trauma experts lead right into the FMSF’s hand to try to discredit mpd/did.
But like I said, that was decades ago, and yet some still hold onto the hype and excesses when therapists used to parade d.i.d. patients around like a circus freak show on the various talk shows, and so the critics point to that as their reason to discount EVERTYHING about d.i.d. Happily, ISSTD learned their lesson on that front, even if they haven’t made a lot of progress imo about how to best help people like my wife.
Glad you mentioned this. We seem to have moved quickly from “false memories can be implanted” to “there is no such thing as repressed memories.” The latter is part of the “blame the victim” attitude psychiatric leaders have assumed towards those who are traumatized early in life.
Of course there’s such thing as repressed memories. There is a real danger, though, when you go to a therapist who supposedly extracts those memories. Therapists are full of biases and they’ve got their own agenda. I’ve known a few who were child-abused themselves so they project this onto all their patients. It is really a dangerous thing to do. I credit therapy for splitting up my family for a number of years. Thankfully the effect wasn’t permanent.
“There’s no such thing as repressed memories. Or implanted. Just hallucinations and delusions of the severely mentally ill.” That’s a popular cultural narrative now.
I’ve been thinking about this all night and your statement kind of encapsulated some of my concerns: how Lee jumped to completely discount my wife’s experience and the validity of dissociation, and his apparently blind deference to the ‘holocaust that has come to the thousands of persons falsely accused.”
I tried to figure out where he stood from his website. It’s a weird format to read his stuff: probably did that in the hope people would buy it, and some/much of it is older, like from the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s, but he seems to hold on to the fantasy of an epidemic of falsely accused people while ignoring the true pandemic of those who have been abused emotionally, physically and sexually and then are discredited and shamed by our culture’s power structures if they do speak out. Is he against the #MeToo movement as well?
I’d love for him to clarify, but he seems to be ignoring anything I actually say because of his apparent distaste for d.i.d..
Just to clarify, there really WAS an epidemic of falsely accused people, which led to some much-needed reforms in forensic interviewing of children, which have taken hold nationwide, and maybe internationally as well. The McMartin Preschool case was most definitely an example of implanted or extracted “memories” of things that did not happen, and the therapists were in the main culpable for creating this disaster.
What I’m objecting to is jumping from the clear and fully supportable observation that false memories CAN be implanted to the conclusion that there is no possibility of suppressing a memory of something that really did happen. There are people who can’t remember anything before they’re 10 or 12. I doubt that they really can’t remember anything during that time, but I do believe it’s possible not to WANT to remember bad stuff and to wall it off from conscious recollection.
But it’s a very delicate area, and it is very easy for a person to inadvertently (or intentionally) encourage or induce “recollections” of things that did not happen. I’m not in a position to know what has happened in your family’s case, nor do I really want to weigh in on that question. I just don’t want you to come away thinking that I believe implanted or created “memories” are a fantasy. They are very real and very, very destructive to all involved.
Frankly, Sam, you asked for it and I thought Lee was more than respectful to you and your wife in his reply. Now you want a fight because he stated what he believes which has no power over you at all.
Though I don’t agree with all of his assertions, and frankly I find his work to lend his expert testimony in defense of accused child molesters both distasteful and as completely necessary as the defense attorney himself.
Lee is the first person I’ve ever met with the balls to point out how harmful CPS investigations can be to a family. My opinion as someone who experienced a shitstorm from CPS and subsequent labeling as a child is that I’d take a banging from daddy every damn day of my childhood to have avoided the years of abusive therapy that I endured as a result of being targeted as “culturally deprived” because I didn’t know who bugs bunny was when I was questioned during a CPS investigation which was a jacked up charge because I wasn’t cooperative enough in their investigation to justify my removal otherwise. Having my genitals examined by a doctor I didn’t know at the age of six after stating unequivocally that I was not being abused was WAY WORSE than anything my dad or brother ever did.
So before you get yourself too worked up, remember that there are real victims of the state who would rather have had their abuse never investigated than gone through what CPS does to families. The long term outcomes for kids who’ve been in foster care are worse than the long term outcomes of kids who’ve been molested without legal intervention.
The way you’re portraying his position, which I largely share, is emotionally and not intellectually driven. You cannot just silence people who dare to tell you that they think encouraging your loved ones to believe they have multiple personalities is harmful just because you disagree on the validity of the subject matter. I don’t believe in DID not just because I don’t believe in diagnonsense but because I lived through the era in which this “disorder” originated. As Lee said, everyone gets a say when you put your situation on the stand for public viewing and debate. And you have to be willing to listen to the people who have their own stories of hardship. I had a loved one convince me I had DID and I find what you’re doing to your wife to be abusive, not loving. And if you can’t take the heat, stop talking about her girls all the time and your own awesomeness in healing what some of us viewing this situation see as keeping her perpetually victimized and in need of your help.
And for the record “dissociation” used to be called “day dreaming” before the psychiatric industry pathologized it. I had a very rich inner life due to being a creative, well read child, and my teachers routinely complained that I spent more time in my inner world than in the real world. It wasn’t until one nefarious actor in my 20s convinced me that I was doing things I couldn’t remember, and a nascent trauma industry was waiting to tell me its lies, that my daydreaming became a problem.
You had the choice to help your wife heal and instead you have chosen to reinforce her difficulties by encouraging her to name and develop her personality states into fully fleshed out separate people.
And frankly, I’m sick of harmful “helpers” having a greater voice than those being harmed by the labels and treatments, whether those “helpers” are medical/psychiatric personal or family.
Equally hurtful is accusing parents of abuse based on no evidence except projection on the part of the “clinician.” We already know that people who are less well off or are of a minority group are more frequently victims of this. Immigrants also get accused disproportionately. If you have MI on record you’re more likely to have your kids taken away.
I’ll never forget the antisemitic remarks those damn doctors continued to heap on my family. If I were to smack them 100 times for each time they said “Jewish mother” I think my hands would fall off before I was done.
And to Steve, Julie and Rachel, as far as the notion of repressed memories go, the science is not on your side. Memories change over time, even when we don’t consciously access them. We can have nightmares that we remember as if they’re real and turn them into “memories” that are deeply emotionally troubling.
The kindest way to respond to someone dealing with a “recovered” distressing memory is to validate the emotions they’re experiencing, not the validity of the memory itself, which can have any number of origins outside of having actually happened. To encourage someone, often decades after the fact, to believe that the memories they’re having are absolutely concretely real constitutes a significant risk that you will encourage them to believe something that may not have happened but that will have a serious emotional effect on them if they entertain them as absolutely 100% real.
It is more than possible to empathize with the distress someone is in and validate how distressing our internal movies can be without encouraging them to alter their beliefs about long past events in ways that perpetuate the distress.
I don’t think it requires encouraging people to alter their beliefs about past events to validate that such events may not be entirely conscious in their memories. I have a clear example from my own past where my second grade teacher hit me in the head and tossed me and another kid out in the hallway. I shared this story with a classmate at our 30th high school reunion, and she remembered the incident, including some parts I was not aware of (like the part after she hit me in the head!) While I still did not recall this part of the event, I did remember going down to the nurse after heading to the office, and I remember her checking my head for signs of injury, which I did not recall previously. I also knew there was another kid in the hallway, but she reminded me of who it was, which helped me flesh out the memory.
Was that recollection 100% accurate? I very much doubt it. Did my teacher hit me in the head? I am absolutely certain that this is what happened. And the parts I recovered were not manufactured or imaginary, but were very much connected to the events I had recalled before. There is no reason to doubt that I was hit, that Freddy Baughman was crying (which I also recalled after telling the story) and was tossed out in the hallway with me, and that I did make a visit to the nurse. The exact details of the event will no doubt never be known, and I’m sure different people who were present would have different recollections of what occurred. That’s the nature of memory.
So I don’t think it’s anyone’s job to tell anyone else what is true or not true, and especially to tell anyone what to BELIEVE about their historical trauma. But I do think it is absolutely wrong to deny the possibility of recalling or fleshing out memories of abuse that a person comes up with themselves. In fact, telling them NOT to believe their recollection IS telling someone what to believe about their historical trauma, which we both agree is wrong. It is up to that person to determine for him/herself what is and is not true about their own past. And I agree, the relevant point is to process the emotion attached to such events, including any conclusions or decisions the person may consider they have made in regards to their interpretation of such events. But the client owns the recollection and their own sense of how certain that memory is in their reality.
KS my over-the-top statement was not meant to be scientific. Memories do change. My own are far from accurate and change as I reinterpret my past.
But cavalier dismissal of actual abuse is a real problem in the “mental” system. An SMI labeled victim makes a great mark for an abuser.
Rachel, I don’t disagree at all that far too many times victims are not believed. I have experienced this myself repeatedly and felt the crushing defeat when someone would ask why I would accuse my parents of such horrors. I support the #metoo movement wholeheartedly.
I also feel that helpers have an enormous responsibility to not make the victims suffering worse by going overboard in the other direction with believing and reinforcing every sordid detail.
A good therapist doesn’t say “I believe this happened to you as you tell it verbatim”, they say “I believe the memories of this situation as you recall them is causing real distress for you”. It’s a subtle difference but the first encourages continued hurting especially in the face of how unlikely a prosecution or apology is to occur from the accused while the second approach helps the person cope with a distressing feeling so that they can stop being distressed about something that will likely never have the kind of closure that might come with a prosecution. So unless someone has indisputable evidence (or others come forward with a story similar enough to create a group whose combined stories are likely to have merit) then the most help a therapist or family member might hope to be is to validate the distress by helping the person work through how the memory is effecting them in the present. A lot of people are dealing with memories involving family members they’re still in contact with or don’t want to destroy relationships, and confusing criminal justice issues (when there is evidence) with validating a person’s subjective reality can exacerbate the problem.
I am also as a mother, incredibly grateful not to have had sons in this day and age, because I feel like I would have to teach them how to not be falsely accused. And that sucks to feel that way as an abuse survivor myself, knowing that false accusations can and do happen and are not as rare as claimed, especially when accusations come from very small children whose testimony is extraordinarily unreliable and very easily manipulated.
I also completely understand and share your concern about how abuse victims are pathologized by the mental health industry. We SMI patients are their bread and butter, and far too many are never allowed to discuss traumatic events in a safe validating space, but instead have their emotional response to distressing memories targeted for drugging. As such, I agree with Someone Else’s frequent assertion that the mental health industry serves to cover up child abuse.
As always, it’s a nuanced subject. And the way the “helpers” respond can literally make all the difference between feeling better and feeling worse.
Kindredspirit, your comment starting with “The kindest way to respond to someone dealing with a “recovered” distressing memory…” and all the way to the end–thanks for presicely how you put that. It’s a keeper, and to me, it is the voice of a healer. You know exactly what you are talking about.
To all who want to support others in a kind, compassionate, and EFFECTIVE way, I would take this as gospel. Everyone heals in this scenario. Thank you. May I quote you, just about everywhere?
As much as KS has taken on an adversarial relationship to everything I say, I would completely agree with her assessment of how to help someone thru their traumatic memories. It’s very similar to what I have espoused upon my blog and was one of my more popular entries, trending #3 on google’s search for a while about lying and dissociative identity disorder.
Sam, I’m not reading every word on here but I’m scanning to see what is standing out to me as good truth to emphasize, from my point of view. If you can validate what KS is saying here in this discussion along with me, without any personal qualification, then it really amplifies its power for the greater good.
I think what KS is saying is the most universally truthful teaching I’ve seen on MIA in the 7 years during which I’ve been participating in these conversations. Hits home with me, and is what I try to practice with others, because I am familiar with blatant invalidation when you are telling the absolute truth, and it becomes apparent this is part of a toxic system protecting abusers. Most hard spot to be in, for a lot of reasons.
I’d call what KS is saying the antithesis of gaslighting, and what heals us of the effects thereof. It is true empathy and compassion without enabling. This is how healing happens, and it is authentic.
Alex, thank you very much for your validating comment.
Empathy and compassion are like flowers in a garden and must be tended to if we wish to truly help those in distress, which I feel is all of our jobs and not just the professionals’. Anger, hurt and retribution are the weeds that will take all of your energy and starve you of your humanity if you let them. Like the yin and yang, balance is key to effective activism.
Sam, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. But since you offered an olive branch, I’ll allow that you aren’t the root of all evil even when we disagree vehemently and you are correct in that I don’t know you and my judgment is based on limited information.
As for projecting my situation, I can only respond that that is exactly how humans operate. Every piece of information received is processed and categorized in relation to all prior experience. As such, I process new information based on my experiences and I don’t have your experiences to base them on. And vice versa. And if you were in my situation, you may very well come to the same kinds of conclusions I do based on my history and interpretation of the world just as I might have a different perspective if I were in your shoes.
“which I feel is all of our jobs and not just the professionals’.”
Well, certainly it is the job of a collective to ensure everyone’s saftey and well-being, however that were to occur at no one’s expense. If it’s at anyone’s expense, then it is not for EVERYone. One way or another, the collective must be the safety net, otherwise no one feels safe. Bad enough we are led into such distress in the first place, but then to be blamed for it, projected onto, and have nowhere safe to turn for it? That’s a treacherous world.
One thing about this, on an individual level, is that it’s not easy to help someone through extreme distress, under any circumstances, and different manifestations of it require different personal skills and levels of awareness. No one is going to be able to help everyone. There has to be some kind of copaceticness.
By the time I reached my depths of distress from all the toxic mh factors coming at me all at once, I was a handful–not because I was angry and resistant, but because I had been driven crazy and paranoid by the psych drugs combo and then the systemic abuse on top of it. I had a very hard time communicating, my brain was scrambled and I was terrified that I was sinking down the biggest rabbit hole of my life. People around me were mostly angry and understandably frustrated, as I was becoming more despondent to an extreme, leading to hopelessness, and it was easy to take the anger out on me, as I was rather defenseless at that time and totally not myself, sick from withdrawal. Still, I was taking it out on me, too! Everything felt like it was my fault, that was the message coming at me, and I bought it hook line and sinker.
My thoughts were incessant and filled with pain and anxiety. And not even the professionals could hear it, nor anyone, really. I was called a liar repeatedly by my psychiatrist just when I was trying to get myself healed without drugs, and I wasn’t even smart, clear, or aware enough at that time to calculate a lie. It was insanity, and it led me to try the final act and take my life. Why wouldn’t I? Came close but turns out that it wasn’t yet time. Apparently, I had more work to do down here on this crazy planet Earth.
Indeed, I believe healing can be done with intention, patience, and heart. But it’s either a very natural instinct, which I do believe some people have a gift for this, and life trains them in it. OR, it at least does take some supported training, like supervision, to help someone when they are first learning to sit with others in distress and navigate that process with neutrality and authenticity. That can be a hard mix, it’s a fine line to walk.
It is going to be stressful, one way or another, but the one doing the support is going to have to hold their stuff in a certain way so it does not interfere with the distressed person’s process. Otherwise it can be messy and even toxic, in that it drains the one in distress from a breakdown in boundaries.
That’s part of training, and learning by experience. Sitting with people who are looking to process their distress is as challenging as it can be rewarding and self-healing. It can be a deep heart connection. But it triggers one’s own stuff, so it’s a process for everyone concerned.
So yeah, people can do this from the heart, and even a person getting paid for this service would need to be in their heart while also in their clear head, to be of any value. And if they are, they are worth their weight in gold, so I’d have no problem paying for this. Not every week for years and years though! That’s ridiculous. But during the crisis and until it has safely passed, indeed.
I re-read KS’s comment very carefully, and I will once again state there is absolutely nothing with which I disagree.
I highlighted it because I think it’s important and not well-practiced. I thought it merited underlining. I’m glad we agree, and I wish more practitioners would apply this, rather than continually invalidating a person’s experience. I believe that is extremely harmful to people, to the point of being fatal, as my story would illustrate. I am sure I am not alone in my thinking here, or in my experience.
I was discussing this with a family member last night. Memory was also a frequent topic of discussion in writing school.
Most of the time, with memoir, we trust the writer. This comes not from how believable the story is, but consistency in the writer’s voice. Occasionally you have the case of the unreliable narrator, a narrator whose story you might doubt because, as a reader, you might think the drunk, dreaming, or somehow, deluded.
I believe now that all writers of memoir are to some extent, unreliable. We do not remember perfectly. Readers understand this, though. We are human, and humans aren’t perfect. We also prioritize. My brother, for instance, remembers not only the makes and models of every single car we had, but even recalls the type of engine, the history of the model, and how well it performed. I, on the other hand, could care less about cars and all I remember are the various adventures we had in each one, and what my parents named them. And of course, the little songs my mom made up about a couple of them. My other brother remembers absolutely nothing, or claims this anyway. I do not remember much math. I recall I was quite good at it and aced calculus, but still, I recall very little of it. I don’t use it in my daily life, which is likely the reason. This doesn’t mean I did not, at one time, know a lot of math. And it doesn’t mean I’m delusional that I ever took calculus.
In writing school, we talked about truth vs accuracy. We tend to remember the basic truth about an event, which is our truth. Time may alter our exact recollection of the details. In writing, the readers aren’t going to care about the accuracy of details as much as they care about the message behind the story.
That particular workshop struck me more than any other I attended at Goddard. The instructor gave us amazing examples of how memories alter over time. We talked about the importance of telling and re-telling our stories.
It is very true that stories change over time. My story of ECT changed as I began to put the pieces together. The
ECT part of my memoir I wrote in 2009 (and published) did not mention the ECT. It did illustrate that for a year and a half, I was very out of it. The entire time I wrote the memoir, I did not realize that ECT was the cause. So if I were to re-tell that story, and I have indeed done so, it comes out much different, but the story’s core truth remains the same. What changed and evolved over time was my interpretation of that story.
I am truly sorry that you find my position as if it’s a personal attack on you. I don’t see your opinion for your life as a threat to me and my wife.
HOW did I ‘ask for it?” My original comment had absolutely nothing to do with Lee’s statements about d.i.d. and a ‘holocaust’ of those falsely accused or his understanding of d.i.d. My original post was about how people’s fears of ‘extreme states’ is part of what gives this entire issue any power, and I still stand by that assertion even if I concede it’s not the whole issue. WHY do people call the authorities when someone is in a distressing or ‘psychotic’ state, if there is such a thing???? I would never even dream of doing that because at this point I know that I am the person with the most power to stop any kind of mental distress in my wife and NOTHING we have gone thru makes me ‘fearful’ anymore. Those 3 examples were just a tiny sample of the hell she and I have gone thru, and yet one by one, we faced all those fears and overcame them together.
No he didn’t. He referenced the discussion between you and I on Sera Davidow’s Not All NAMIs blog, calling it spirited, and which he commented on once.
Nobody reading the comments section here has any doubt about the fact that you diagnosed your wife’s distress as DID, or your participation in perpetuating her belief that she has DID, which by your own admission is solely a label you’ve placed on her. You are not qualified to diagnose anyone with any of the labels in the DSM, and your talk about being engaged to her teenage alters raises red flags for me as seeming somewhat predatory especially as these are personalities whose development you encouraged. And since you’ve talked at length about helping to raise these “girls” and now you’re engaged to them, I can’t help but feel a little creeped out by that. That would seem to me like marrying my dad or something, especially as your son has essentially been a big brother to these girls.
As far as how did you ask for it? You asked someone who has openly revealed his position on the trauma labels and industry for his position on your wife’s DID and you’re surprised that he told you DID isn’t real? Shocking!
I really do wish you could see me, Kindred Spirit. Instead you only see some twisted caricature of me based upon your own traumatic experiences.
For the record, when I talk about the two Millenial girls (alters) Wikipedia says that generation started in 1980 and ended in 1994. So the VERY youngest that would mean is 24 years old, NOT teenagers!
I really do wish you the best.
No I see a man thriving on rearranging his wife’s reality while calling it kindness and I find it astounding.
I find this article to be one of the more compelling and articulate that I have read here at MIA; thank you for your community service. Nevertheless, I have some disagreement with your conclusion.
“If it were recognized by our people that science is irrelevant to the debate over whether society’s fears should trump individual rights to liberty, then we could begin what will be the long struggle to win such a debate.”
I do not believe that “the debate” has ever been about whether “society’s fears should trump individual rights to liberty”; the debate is about whether “mental illness” is a real medical problem or a myth. You articulately argue that “mental illness” is a myth but do not advocate for the abolition of the “medical science” that legitimizes the myth. Psychiatry does substantial harm to the community by advocating that natural emotional suffering is a medical problem that inhibits “healthy” thinking and the ability to make “sound” judgments; this legitimizes the coercion. I contend that the issue is about “science”: a harmful narrative about natural emotional suffering that passes for medical “science.”
Well there’s more than one debate, plenty to go around if we’re looking to start a debating club:
the debate over whether society’s fears should trump individual rights to liberty
If that’s “the debate,” this goes beyond the philosophical parameters of psychiatry/anti-psychiatry into more general territory regarding “rights,” “liberty,” etc.
the debate is about whether “mental illness” is a real medical problem or a myth
Only a fool would debate the meaning of metaphors and whether they constitute literal reality, which is the way Steve poses this, when a good English textbook (or French, or Russian, etc.) could settle that pretty quickly. What I think he actually means is the debate over whether human suffering is due to a neurological problem or social/political oppression (or “social conditions”).
For me, the only relevant “debate” which is not simply reinventing the wheel is over how to most expeditiously use these various definitions, analyses and “models” to expose psychiatry to the public for what it is, and how to organize the societal effort to bring about the demise of psychiatry sooner rather than later.
Psychiatry has reified the metaphor “mental illness” into a subject addressed by a “medical science”; the “debate” I envision addresses the illogic of reifying a metaphor. “Mental illness” is one of the few metaphors (together with “mental health”) that is considered literally true; this foolishness needs to be identified.
I consider the “debate” about whether human suffering is due to a “neurological problem” or “social conditions” to be equally foolish in nature but also equally important. The disconnect between distressful experiences and emotional suffering seems foolish but this denial of our basic humanity is widely accepted and needs challenging.
Nevertheless, I agree that the most important debate is about “messaging”- how best to expose the truth about psychiatry.
Exposing the truth is just the first step. Getting people to act on what they know is much more involved.
the “debate” I envision addresses the illogic of reifying a metaphor.
Maybe you should refer to it as something other than a debate. Again, a high school English teacher could cover this pretty well.
Also — I’m not being sarcastic — EF Torrey addresses this very well in his 1st book The Death of Psychiatry. Seriously!
Hi Steve and thanks for the thumbs up and for the points you raise. Yes, I do think there are situations where an MD will be helpful, but never one of the team leaders, and as far as I’m concerned, that MD shouldn’t be a psychiatrist. They have really disqualified themselves with all the lies and self-serving arrogance. I’m in pretty good company in this opinion, with people like Bob Whitaker and Peter Gotzsche holding the same opinion.
The other point I would make is that the debate is much broader than the question of whether “mental illness” is a meaningful concept (of course it’s not) or something else. I believe it is Psychiatry’s link to the power of the State that is at the heart of it all, and that if nothing involuntary could ever be done to those seeking help, those looking for help would by their choices wipe away the vast majority of what is wrong with our current arrangement.
It’s too big for real discussion in this kind of format, but I try to talk about these very questions in the 50 videos that make up YouTube Psychiatry and Society.
All the best,
I agree that you are in excellent company in the belief that the biggest problem with psychiatry lies with its police power but the source of that power lies with its false scientific (medical) legitimacy. I agree that psychiatry would collapse from the weight of the truth if it lost its police powers but I do not believe that society will restrain psychiatry as long as medical science legitimizes the myth of “mental illness.” If a medical science tells society that “diagnosed people” are a “danger to themselves and others”, coercive “treatments” are a natural result… to protect “patients” from themselves (as well as protecting society). There may be plenty of situations where an MD might be helpful with “diagnosed people” but the legitimacy of psychiatry and its myth of “mental illness” seem like their biggest problem.
That’s a more definitive presentation of your position I think, and I completely agree that a key pillar of the attack on psychiatry’s legitimacy must be the demand for the A.M.A. and other official medical bodies to expell psychiatry as a branch of medicine.
As for “the state”…it seems that psychiatry developed pretty much along the same timeline as capitalism; all states are not the same.
For Sam and Kindred Spirit and anyone else interested
Sam, let’s see whether you are really serious about what I stand for, what I think, and what I have done for the past 45 years. It’ all on my 50 YouTube videos Psychiatry and Society. And also in home/documents/books and articles of http://www.coleman.nyghtfalcon.com The Lee Coleman Collection. Why don’t you try reading “The Reign of Error”, cover to cover, as well as ‘Has A Child Been Molested?”, both now posted as above. Study every video on the McMartin case, every one, and open your mind.
Until you have truly studied these materials, what right do you have to expect me to spend my time arguing with someone who apparently prefers to accuse before studying. And by the way, if you think the 70s, 80s and 90s are not relevant, you are only displaying how far you have to go.
Now, finally, if had given up on you, I wouldn’t be troubling to write this, but this is the last shot. Either you demonstrate enough grit to study what I have produced, or you will not.
Kindred Spirit, thank you for the support.
To everyone else who shares any of Sam’s hasty opinions of me, please find out who I am, as demonstrated by what I have done for decades rather than jumping to hasty conclusions. I happen to think that if you are truly serious enough to do this, our common view about the bankruptcy of Psychiatry might just be advanced. Frankly, as I see it now, there is a lot of behavior in the critical psychiatry movement that is playing into their grubby little hands.
I consider your blog post to be articulate and am interested in more of your work but find it difficult to follow. I expected your website to be collections of your criticisms of psychiatry; instead it looks like a “fabulous” collection of home furnishings for sale. You speak well on your 50 YouTube videos but they do not appear to be categorized or integrated so their relative value is hard to determine. Is there a way to contact you for more information about your work?
Amen to that, Brother, it really is a mess right now, as I will explain shortly when James Moore interviews me for the MIA podcast.
http://www.coleman.nyghtfalcon.com is the website called The Lee Coleman Collection. It is things I have collected and things I have made, partly to sustain myself in the face of isolation and constant attacks that come from being critical of Psychiatry for my entire career. Check out the letter from Barbara Cay White, MD on the home page. Then, for those like yourself, already steeped in the issues, the path to my writing is home/documents/books and articles.
Reign of Error and Has A Child Been Molested? are available for reading and soon for download. Articles are being posted, some already there.
Regarding the YouTube Psychiatry and Society, go to Playlists and you can see a grouping by subject. You can also look to the right top to “most popular” and start browsing that way.
And, there is a contact button on the Lee Coleman Collection. Drop me a line that way any time you wish.
All this of course also for y’all. If you like what you hear and read, send me viewers and readers ’cause it ain’t about me. We all need an audience of the uninitiated! Choir practice just won’t cut it.
keep on keeping’ on
Lee, unless I missed it you don’t seem to use the term “anti-psychiatry” at all; is this because you do not actually support the abolition of psychiatry?
Lee, you’re not avoiding my question, are you? 🙂
My opinions on this are on YouTube Psychiatry and Society.
Some one suggested using the AMA to abolish psychiatry. How were phrenology and blood letting abolished? How are we going to abolish astrology and psychiatry that is so similar to astrology. “Grassroots” efforts come to mind. The powers that be have the money and dominance to counter any “movements.” How to reach the uninitiated is a good question. Continuing education for the “choir.” I was one of the uninitiated and I was introduced to the truth through the internet. Hand out flyers on public squares. If anyone has any ideas as to what we can do as individuals, that would be a start. Any “strategist” out there? Any Public Relations or marketing people in the audience? The “Occupy” demonstrations got squashed!
Why would anybody “abolish astrology”? I’ve written about the folly of trying to “abolish folly” before. What do you get out of such a folly? The “mental health” system. Something that I don’t consider wise in the slightest.
For me, astrology is inane. Something “For entertainment only.” It’s laughable.
Psychiatry,w/it’s medical model narrative and drugs, damages people, robs people of their dignity and kills people. There needs to be some different avenue, other than the current “mental health” system, for people experiencing distress.
I appreciate reading your thoughtful and insightful comments on MIA. I am a new commentor. The comment section provides me w/criticism and insight as well as food for thought.
In our society astrologers don’t collude with judges to get someone innocent locked up. “He’s a libra and therefore dangerous to himself and others.”
Prominent astrologers don’t go on TV to warn everyone about how virgos may go on killing sprees unless force fed this magical elixir astrologers sell. (Sugar water, rubbing alcohol and meth. Yummy!)
I think Veblen’s concept holds a lot of water.
@Rachel — Don’t give them any ideas; they’ll have psychiatric astrologers setting up shop recommending SSRI’s when Mars is in Scorpio.
I’m a pretty rational person myself, at least, I’d like to think of myself as such, and I put more credence in astronomy than I do in astrology, but a lot of people are Christians, and who am I to tell them that the universe wasn’t “created” in 7 days? If anybody is out to follow their heart, it might lead them out among the stars, and voila, astrology. I’m not going to prohibit people from putting up signs that say palm reader either, nor would I outlaw consultations with a fortune teller if such is one’s inclination. You’ve got people who take charms with them into casinos, and I’m not going to say that they shouldn’t do so.
What is your point William? And btw astrology is more legitimate than psychiatry.
The AMA cannot abolish psychiatry, but it can stop giving it quarters and sanction under the guise of medicine. That will contribute hugely to its demise, probably definitively, to be followed by laws against forced treatment, or maybe the other way around.
It will take an enormous campaign to get it to do that of course.
I appreciate your insight and perspective. For me, psychiatry is, dangerously bogus: a heinous con job. It would be wonderful if the AMA, as you say, stopped giving it quarters and sanction under the guise of medicine.” The drugs have damaged me. I will not go cold turkey or do a rapid taper. I’m forced to continue to take the drugs and taper as much as I can and hopefully my metabolism will accommodate a full withdrawal-maybe, maybe not.
I agree that it would take a huge campaign to end the practice of psychiatry, as we know it, with it’s illegitimate medical model and life time illness bullshit. Make psychiatry obsolete like phrenology and blood letting. I’ll be thinking of ways I can educate the general public…
If you think you have reached the point where you consider psychiatry to be worthy of abolishing I’d be happy to make further contact with you. Let me know (here) & we’ll find a way to get in touch!
I do. But I have to ask someone. Stay tuned.
William I highly recommend Surviving Antidepressants for doing the taper.
Survivingantidepressants.com helped me a lot in coming off my cocktail. Especially Effexor. That one can be a bear. 🙂
Survivingantidepressants.org is THE authority on tapering, with FREE personal assistance from fellow former patients who know what you’re going through and won’t mince words if they think you need to slow down or hold at a dose. Can’t recommend them enough.
I have a couple ideas that I would like to discuss with you about what I think that individuals can do to challenge the legitimacy of psychiatry. You can contact me through “Contact” information provided at an online therapy program that I administer at UnifiedAlternatives.org
I will go to your website. I’m leery about “cyber stalking.”
I still believe that flyers would be very useful and word of mouth. The internet is very limited.
Windshield wiper flyers with a web address would be useful.
Windshield flyers about the “meds”, the “diagnosis”, the children and elderly and anyone in between. The loss of liberties should tell anyone that we are NOT dealing with “medicine”
My previous post was intended for William but I now want it directed to you as well because a note that I emailed to your address at “Nyghtfalcon.com” was rejected by them.
I received your info today. Your analysis and mine are identical and as I explain in my YouTube discussions, symptoms are not only unhelpful in understanding emotional/bahavioral problems and mental pain, the are positively a hindrance in working toward an UNDERSTANDING of what is going on and working towards improvement. The symptoms are no indicator as to causes and that is why the medical approach is, as you and I and more and more others are recognizing, the very worst approach to help for non-medical problems.
I am sorry that I was slow to realize that you responded here to my letter.
I believe that your blog post is exceptionally articulate and that you speak professionally on your YouTube productions; I want to encourage you further. I believe that there is a problem with publishing on YouTube; once a video is published, there is no opportunity to further edit it. I would like to suggest considering a video streaming website like Vimeo where you can publish, edit and republish for increased impact. You have excellent presentation skills; my criticism of psychiatry (https://vimeo.com/185916512) has improved substantially with editing but would nevertheless be much improved if I possessed your on-camera talent.
I look forward to your MIA interview and hope to discuss psychiatry with you further.
Best wishes, Steve
Thank you very much Steve and I will definitely look into the Vimeo suggestion. I didn’t realize when I recorded all those videos, 50 or so over three different occasions, how important brevity is brevity. I mean severe brevity, is in today’s world. Because true understanding, deep diving as they say, is what I am trying to encourage in my audience, it is particularly difficult for me to shut up. All the more reason for editing, exactly as you say.
By all means stay in touch and keep up the good work.
ps Here is the best link to The Reign of Error: http://coleman.nyghtfalcon.com/documents/books-and-essays/reign-of-error/
Sounds great… and I’ll definitely check out your Reign of Error; sounds like you’ve been a heavy hitter for decades.
Best wishes, Steve
Steve S, Your video on Vimeo is outstanding!! It really gave me so much clarity on the deception and atrocities of psychiatry. It is concise and has brevity but still covers off and explains the important points VERY effectively. This is information I can pass to others who are naïve about all of this like I once was. Thank you for your public service!
Yes, I left some info
This is responding to Kindred Spirit, but of course any one else welcome. Kindred, I just wondered if, considering that you have at least noticed that “Has A Child Been Molested” is now available to read on http://www.coleman.nyghtfalcon.com/home/documents/books & articles, The Lee Coleman Collection, why you feel ” I find his work to lend his expert testimony in defense of accused child molesters both distasteful and as completely necessary as the defense attorney himself. if you actually understand my testimony in every single one of these cases, my testimony is about the biased, pseudoscientific work of interviewers, medical examiners, or investigators, or “syndrome pushers.” I never agree to testify about these things unless I have studied the entire case and actually see such methods. The very things you seem to have experienced in your own life. For you to find such work “distasteful,” especially in light of your understanding of child protective services behavior in so many cases, I just wonder if you truly have studied what I actually do. If you care to talk further, just drop me a note back.
Obviously, anyone else who wants to do that, I will respond, but not to argue or even take your comments seriously unless I can see that you are interested enough to first familiarize yourself with my work. If I allow that I will only drain myself out, and it is not fair to me to ask me start explaining things that I have already published and are available. Prove to me that you are a student and you will find me easy to talk to.
I understand why you interpreted my comment that way. It was not meant as an assault to your personal or professional integrity.
I think what I find distasteful about it is that just because the evidence doesn’t show a child was molested, the lack of evidence doesn’t disprove the child’s accusation either. And because this lack of evidence doesn’t disprove anything, there are going to necessarily be some cases where a child was indeed molested and someone is getting away with it due to lack of evidence. And I am familiar with that outcome. This is why I made the comparison to the defense attorney because his job is equally fraught with the potential that some of the clients whose cases he wins will actually have been guilty.
Outside of my own opinions about the potential harms that can be caused during a sex abuse investigation, there is a pervasive attitude in this country that some accused don’t deserve a trial or defense. Mention child molestation and there’s always someone there to say “he don’t need no trial. I’ll take him out back and kill him myself.” (An understandable but deeply flawed reaction.) And that’ll be rewarded with a “Right on, brother, I’ll help you clean up after.” Vigilantism is rooted in deep primal parts of the human psyche. And so pointing out that we have a justice system, with all its flaws, and that everyone deserves their day in court, is not a popular position.
I really wasn’t commenting on your cases specifically, merely acknowledging the visceral reaction that people tend to have just at the mention of defending an accused child molester. I would think you’ve probably encountered some of this. I think saying it was distasteful but necessary acknowledges the discomfort many feel about the subject while continuing to stand up for justice.
thanks for the answer.
When you write that
“I think saying it was distasteful but necessary acknowledges the discomfort many feel about the subject while continuing to stand up for justice.”
I understand what you are saying, but what really needs emphasizing,in my opinion, is the many cases where the children are being abused by those who are questioning them, whether parent or parents, therapists, cps interviewers, D.A.. interviews, , all of which I have experienced first hand for thirty years by studying the audio and video tapes of the interviews. Because those materials are not available to anyone except those directly in the case, few people understand that many times what are claimed to be the child’s accusations are what the child is being trained to say, often now coming to believe it.”
As for people who are ready to physically attack someone accused, or even talk about doing such a thing, they need educating rather than stroking or soothing. Those people end up on juries and convict innocent persons, and demonstrate that they understand nothing about how the legal system is actually operating.
Anyway, thanks for your support in many ways, and I would welcome your reaction to my McMartin tapes and to ‘Has A Child Been Molested?” Not much point going further until then….
All the best.
You said “Stay tuned.” Are you going to get back to me?
“If all this sounds harsh, I’m glad. We must communicate the seriousness of the problem by the emotion we show. We are not university lecturers but public educators.”
Thank you, Mr. Coleman. I agree wholeheartedly.
Fleshing out the common sense that underlies your entire sentiment in this article, into a clear demonstration of the genuinely delusional current paradigm of psychiatry as you have, is exhausting for many of us who have survived – including me.
That sentence was a little exhausting, too, but my point is: all of this needs to be said, clearly and directly… again, and again, and again. So I truly appreciate your voice and how you’ve used it here.
I also love having pieces like this that I can forward to people in my life who ask, “What do you mean you’ve ‘survived’ psychiatry? What’s wrong with it?”. It confirms my own sanity for me as well!
Much love, Lee <3
Thank you so much KindRegards
For all of us who think and feel as we do, it’s not easy to be both credible in our opinions and true to ourselves in our emotions, all the while doing what we must to PERSEVERE. In my career I have testified hundreds of times in front of juries about these issues and never been willing (some will say able) to remain calm in the face of shallow attacks.
Keep up the good work because I have no intention of pausing, and please look as well for a new podcast series James Moore and I are starting for MIA.
Just “keep on keepin’ on”…., as jazz trumpeter Clark Terry liked to say.
Dr. Coleman, I am so happy that I’ve found your work. I had the challenge of a lifetime about 25 years ago when I tried to tell psychiatrists that my severe migraine was a symptom of emotional distress—-instead of working with me, they dosed me with numerous drugs, including OxyContin and Methadone, alone with psych drugs. I was so over-medicated that I had two car crashes and finally found real help with an energy healer. The greatest help for me emotionally came from poetry–from the metaphors of dealing with darkness and having a fierce determination to keep struggling towards what my soul directed.
I have not had any depression since 1997 and have been drug free since 2002. My last psychiatrist told me I had a damaged brain….luckily, I’d read Glenmullen;s book Prozac Backlash, and I did not listen to him. I’ve been fine ever since. But due to my awful experiences with overmedication and doctors not believing me, I have major skepticism when it comes to Western medical treatments.
Keep up your great work and I hope more doctors will hear your words and wake up. Is there any way to email you offline? I am working on a book and would love to consult with you.
Thanks for your work!
Great work getting free from the drugs; be proud! I will differ with you on the term “Western medical treatments,” since medicine is either scientific or not, and there is some pseudoscience in western medicine, some in eastern, etc. No science in Psychiatry at all, of course, but I sure ain’t giving up scientific medicine. If it weren’t for my doctors from Kaiser, I’d be long gone.
Anyway, if you drop me a line at The Lee Coleman Collection, the webmaster will forward it to me , Thanks for your support and good luck on your book. I’ll be glad to give you some input.
I know where stigma comes from. I am aware that there has been horrible stigma since beginning.
But I can tell you it has indeed been made worse by psychiatry.
It used to be that there were 5 diagnosis. So whoever got the tag was seen as worse than before the tag, because now people said “the doctor said it’s neurosis”. Then people got more scared, they noticed more and even looked for it.
Now there are hundreds of diagnosis. Every tom dick and harry is a shrink now.
They know ALL the clusters and look for them. But low and behold if you received a tag.
IF psychiatry is not responsible, why would the physical medical system treat patients differently or give them secondary care?
It is a very clever move by psychiatry to talk about how there is no shame in being mentally ill, and post posters on hospital walls “REDUCE STIGMA OF MENTAL ILLNESS”
Sorry, but psychiatry educated people, and now they use the word “stigma” to purposefully draw more attention.
Great job Lee.
Thanks for being mensch enough to come out. It takes honesty and humility to do so and you validate not just survivors, but a lot of the general population and another area, psychiatry itself.
It is not possible that psychiatry does not at some point come to the conclusions that you have.
I Don’t agree on the innocence of psychiatry regarding “stigma”, but we will simply disagree on that I guess.
“stigma” is after all in their favor. Blaming the public for stigma redirects the focus.
Lee, I reread your article, and would like to say thanks for this superb article. Back when I first read it, I saw the value, but I value it much more now 🙂
I have been clicking into your videos and have forwarded them to people who I think might find something of importance to themselves or others.
I realize now the huge amount of work you have done and appreciate it immensely.