Psychiatry, Society and Stigma: Placing the Blame Where It Belongs

Lee Coleman, MD
194
4457

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.”

“Stigma”

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.

“Mentally Ill”

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.”

“Mental Illness”

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.”

“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.”

Previous article‘I Own You’: Prominent Psychiatrist Accused of Sexually Exploiting Patients
Next articleI Don’t Believe in Autism
Lee Coleman, MD
Lee Coleman is a retired psychiatrist, now devoting himself to public education that exposes the individual and public harms from today’s “mental health” industry. He seeks to support a grassroots movement to abolish forced “treatment" and provide tools to amplify the voices of those seeking change. A graduate of Occidental College, University of Chicago and University of Colorado, he brings a half-century of experience in both clinical and legal issues surrounding Psychiatry and Society.

194 COMMENTS

  1. 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?

      https://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/directors/thomas-insel/blog/2013/transforming-diagnosis.shtml

      “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.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroleptic-induced_deficit_syndrome
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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.

      https://chicagoist.com/2013/04/16/chicago_hospital_owner_doctors_arre.php
      https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndil/pr/oak-brook-doctor-convicted-kickback-scheme-sacred-heart-hospital

      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.

    • 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.

    • 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…

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

    • 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.

  4. “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.

          • 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.

          • 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.

      • “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.

          • 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!

  5. 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.

      • 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”.

  6. 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.”

          • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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.

  7. Lee

    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.

    Richard

  8. “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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

          • Steve

            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.

            Richard

          • 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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……

  15. 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.

  16. “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.”

    Lee,
    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.

    Yours,
    Sam

    • Hi, Sam,

      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?

      • Hi Steve,
        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.
        Sam

      • 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.

  17. 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.

      or

      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!

  18. 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!

      • Frank Blankenship.
        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.

      • 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.

      • oldhead.
        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…

  19. “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