Lee Coleman – The Reign of Error


This week on MIA Radio, we chat with Doctor Lee Coleman. Lee trained in psychiatry during the 1960s, quickly adopting a sceptical attitude to the newly emerging field of biological psychiatry and rejecting the idea that drugs could be beneficial for so-called ‘mental disorders’. By the early 1970s, Lee’s professional life was divided between a small home-based practice of psychotherapy and a variety of activities – writing, speaking and political advocacy – focused on psychiatry’s role in society.

His experiences led to writing the book Reign of Error in 1984 in which he brings to bear his lengthy experience in both clinical and legal issues surrounding Psychiatry and Society.

Now retired, Lee devotes his time 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.

The discussion today marks the first in what will hopefully be a series of interviews on a range of topics which will be released on the podcast over the coming months.

In this episode we discuss:

  • What led Lee to his interest in attending medical school during the 1950s and his fascination with the burgeoning field of biology.
  • How, once he got to medical school, he found he did not care for psychiatry’s biological orientation.
  • That Lee’s residency period was 1965 to 1969 and this marked a period of decline of psychoanalysis and the rise of biomedical psychiatry.
  • That Lee came to see himself as part of what was called at the time ‘community psychiatry’ which was socially oriented.
  • How, in the late 1960s, psychiatry was feeling the heat from psychologists, social workers and even some religious counsellors who started lobbying to get licenses to provide therapy.
  • How psychiatry then started going on the offensive to redefine itself as having the leading medical expertise in mental health.
  • That Lee was extremely concerned to learn about the legal power of psychiatry and this was a motivator to write The Reign of Error in 1984.
  • How a book called Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson called into question much of what Lee had been taught during his residency.
  • That Reign of Error is about both what is wrong with psychiatry and the fact that it is linked to the power of the State.
  • That Lee has participated in well over 800 legal cases as an expert witness, but he has never testified as to the state of a person’s mind, instead he has testified on the state of psychiatry.
  • That Lee has testified to the fact that psychiatrists are generally worse at assessing someone’s mental state than the average lay-person in the jury.
  • How language can falsely lead us to believe that science underpins the actions of psychiatrists, something Lee refers to as The War of the Words.
  • That we have to fight back by explaining properly what words like ‘treatment’ actually mean.
  • How American psychiatry is leading the way to the worldwide drugging of citizens and that we need political action to resist this future.

Relevant Links:

Doctor Lee Coleman

The Reign of Error

Lee’s YouTube Channel

Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson

To get in touch, email us at [email protected]


  1. Thank you both.

    “And how did you examine the patient”?

    What an incisive and invaluable challenge.

    Might we ask about the “examination” in more detail?
    Did you examine the cranial nerves? Were the pupils equal and reactive to light and accommodation? Did you assess power, tone coordination and sensation?
    Were the deep tendon reflexes symmetrical and normal? Was the gait normal or abnormal?

    This is the routine methodical and precise clinical medical assessment by which real biological brain diseases are assessed, and analysed, allowing a rational differential diagnosis.
    Scientific confirmatory diagnostics: – neuro-imaging, blood and CSF (spinal fluid) analysis further refine and narrow the diagnostic consideration.

    The above time honoured clinical method is not going to identify a psychiatric “diagnosis”.

    However, it would be invaluable in identifying and quantifying the extent of brain and nervous system injuries when patients have been exposed to neurotoxic psychotropic drugs.

    TRM123. Retired Consultant Physician.

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  2. Thank you, very interesting interview, and I appreciate the hard and detailed work done here.

    Re the law, my experience has been not so much with regard to enforcing the letter of the law, but more so, in what I encountered as the bigoted and classist attitude of most attorneys toward marginalized people, especially poor people. I’ve spoken with many attorneys over the years with respect to what I’d repeatedly come face to face with all the way in the system, and in the “mental health” industry in general. And while I did manage to find one who heard me and we followed through with success, that was a needle in the haystack.

    In general, the attorneys with whom I spoke carried the same prejudice and stigma as psychiatrists and seemingly all mh clinicians do toward people with diagnoses and psychiatric histories, and who have been labeled “disabled,” believing the illusions and perpetuating the negative projections. (As I’ve said, it’s the program, the education, and the training).

    As a result, clients lack credibility and power in these systems (mh and legal), pure and simple, and face more abuse systemically simply from calling it out in the first place and defending themselves against it. Standing one’s ground rightfully and courageously can be dangerous in the system. It truly is sinister, most precise word I can think of for it at the moment.

    I do not believe that either political structures or legal parameters have the power to change attitudes and perspectives, which I believe would be required to clean up the huge apocalyptic mess which this “reign of error” (and terror) has created, and which it mind-bogglingly and criminally continues to perpetuate. To be authentic, it would be the other way around. Shift in attitude would come first, and then we’d have a shot at a fair, just, humane, and appropriate legal system for all concerned, and the law would be carried out as such. Otherwise, it is an endless blood bath of shaming and blaming words, to the bitter end, which is inevitable. Status quo is in a downward spiral right now.

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    • Thank you Retired: Such an excellent question:
      First, the physician trying to identify and quantify injuries from neurotoxicity of psychotropics must, of course, already understand that such injuries are much more common than generally understood. Most physicians, whether psychiatrists or not, simply find the idea heretical. Next, this physician needs to be truly knowledgeable about various cognitive and emotional sequelae, possible degenerative changes, etc and just how long and difficult the withdrawal process can be. Dr. Peter Breggin’s 2007 “Brain Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry is recommended. The person should be encouraged to connect with various kinds of non-medical support while at the same time addressing any long-term medical consequences that might be identified. I especially recommend Laura Delano and the Inner Compass Initiative for information and direction to the growing network of non-medical support to buttress whatever medical help is needed.

      My very best wishes to you


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    • Alex, you are “smack dab in the middle” and “right on point” when you say “Shift in attitude could come first.” The best attorney I have run into who shares your approach and mine is Jim Gottstein in Anchorage, Alaska who founded PsychRights. He lists a lot of resources, including Involuntary Commitment and Forced Psychiatric Drugging in the Trial Courts: Rights Violations as a Matter of Course, by James B. (Jim) Gottstein, 25 Alaska L. Rev. 51 (2008).

      I invite you to keep listening and watching here and my YouTube Psychiatry and Society, and website Lee Coleman Collection. Invite some insightful friends and lets start a network a growin’


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      • Dr. Coleman, I just watched a few of your videos on YouTube. The ones of the baskets, artifacts, and woodwork are lovely and so interesting. You have an exquisite home!

        I also watched a couple where you talk about psychiatry, and indeed, I will agree and concur overall with what you are saying, from my experience.

        What got my attention the most is that you are in Berkeley. My entire “mental health” system saga occured in San Francisco, from 1996-2012, when I left SF. That was my odyssey through graduate school and internship then to the system as client, and then voc rehab counselor, and then I worked with two Bay Area “advocacy agencies.”

        I came off of a plethora of psych drugs and went through all that withdrawal on my own (no one had done this before in my vicinity), and I also had a legal action against a social service agency for discrmination and wrongful termination, which is what delayed my time on disability–the system itself sabotaged my transition! That was proven beyond a doubt in mediation. You can imagine how in San Francisco, this would cause hardship and anxiety, and it came from the system, and the “advocacy agencies” were just as bad–discriminating and corrupt.

        Fortunately, I found my path and am a healer and teacher now, and I was also an actor in the Bay Area, and worked with a theater company in Alameda, in fact, as well as in SF. But all the while, I was investigating and discovering how SF had become such a mess over the past decade or so, and I see that the mh system is front and center here, that’s where the red arrows pointed to. I continue to wonder what can be done about this.

        ADA is pretty clear about “reasonable accomodation for reasonable request,” and is violated all the time in this oppressive system which deprives people of what they need–the opposite of *accomodating* needs. And that’s the tip of the iceberg.

        There are so many issues of blatant discrimination, including wage discrimination, against people with disabilities. And there is tons of abuse toward them, in the form of blatant disregard and hostility when trying to receive services. Grievance procedures are corrupt, and only get one into trouble. It is the epitome of OPPRESSION, when there is consequence to filing a reasonable complaint, and these are beyond reasonable. They point toward injustice. I’ve had plenty of experience with this over the years, including with Community Behavioral Health Services (CBHS), Dept of Rehabilitation, Mental Health Association, and Disability Rights CA.

        As far as the “mental heatlh” system and tangents go in SF, I’d call it exactly The Reign of Terror. Many of the clincians I saw along the way were downright terrifying, and they are extremely authoritarian and extremely classist. It is painfully obvious.

        The attitude is exactly what sucks, and which is so negative and marginalizing to people. It is impossible to get justice in the Bay Area, especially if one is not wealthy. Never mind “poor;” only the uber rich thrive in that city.

        I would like to see justice in the Bay Area. It made me so angry to discover what I did. And it has everything to do with why SF is innundated with homeless people, and all kinds of suffering, individual and social. I learned exactly how the system treats people and turns them out on their ass if they do not “do what they are told” or “know their place” or “challenge the system.” It is social barbarism.

        Any chance we can confer further about this in order to maybe do something about it? This would be my greatest wish, to help clean this up but good. Thank you.

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        • Hi Alex, and thank you for listening and I hope you stay tuned. Let me make a suggestion regarding your idea. I’m just beginning to gather some momentum re:yourtube, podcasting, etc and I’m not an old pro with the tech stuff so I must conserve my time and energy, but if you were to find, say, 8 or 10 people who had the interest to really study my You Tube videos on Psychiatry and Society, I mean really LEARN it like you mean it, and that group can demonstrate to me that you have done so, I would then be willing to “sit down” (SKYP or ZOOM) to see how we might plan some meaningful activity.

          That’s a big undertaking, but I must be wise with my time, as I am sure you will appreciate.

          I wish you all the best, and for sure BE PROUD of what you have already done.


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          • Thanks for the offer, Lee, but I too am working on my own manifestations at this time so my energy is tied up in that direction. Perhaps our trains will meet at some point if we are both intent on ushering in a new era of healing, which is my life purpose at this time. I work with other healers of the new paradigm. All the best with your goals!

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          • Fantastic!
            I was unaware that you have acted as an expert witness Lee. That’s great.
            I’ll get your links out to people on FB and twitter to people who are more active and see what happens. Unless and until we get the DSM into a “junk science” litigation, nothing is going to change. Very few people actively engaged in real systemic legal change against the fraud and crimes of psychiatry.
            Are you in touch with Paula Caplan, Lee? She has drafted a law suit and has been trying to get a congressional hearing underway for some years.
            PsychDiagnosis.net – Lawsuits 

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        • Responding to Alex on March 23
          Just finished reviewing all the comments and Alex, I owe you an apology and am offering it now. My referring you to my YouTube was completely inappropriate because those videos are intended for people with essentially no background and need the most basic education. I would of course be delighted to meet with you as you suggest to compare ideas, strategies, etc.

          And thank you again for all the supportive comments which came my way until my misguided recommendation regarding the YouTube. I’m confident that we can get past that one! The issues are too important for any other solution.

          I’m sure you’re tech-savvy and I’m not, so let me know the best way to connect privately.


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          • Thank you, Lee, I had not seen this until Richard pointed it out, and I very much appreciate your acknowledgment of my experience. I was, indeed, baffled, since we had had a meeting of the minds up front, but I understand how these miscommunications can happen in a forum such as this, lots to keep up with here. We’re all learning as we go, and it sure is humbling for everyone concerned!

            So, as far as connecting, I will send you a note via the MiA authors page.

            Thank you so much for reconsidering, and for seeing me for who I am. That’s a good start! I look forward to more conversation soon.

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  3. Hi Lee. So as to know how to approach your material, I asked you last time around to confirm that you now “officially” consider yourself anti-psychiatry. Maybe you missed it; could you clarify this now for the AP audience?

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    • Psychiatry as it now functions is a menace and should disappear. There is a need for medical doctors with special additional training regarding mental and behavioral problems, psychoactive drugs, medical diseases presenting with psychological and behavioral symptoms, etc to work with other professionals and non-professionals but should never be anything but equal members of a team.

      How would I know what you mean by “anti-psychiatry,” so I’m not going to waste my time with meaningless labels like that. If you can’t make up you mind about my work until you have a label, that’s your problem. And I will not respond again to this.


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        • Thanks, Oldhead.

          “There is a need for medical doctors with special additional training regarding mental and behavioral problems, psychoactive drugs.”

          That sounds like Psychiatry with another name. Physicians need to worry about physical illness. Citizens need to learn how to tell their doctors to mind their own business about their emotional state.

          This is why we must have a survivor-led movement safe from cooptation by professionals. Thanks again, Oldhead.

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      • @LeeColeman In your reply to Oldhead, you say “anti-psychiatry” is a meaningless label, but the vehemence of your tone suggests you feel otherwise. I’d be very interested to know how you define anti-psychiatry – it is powerful word, eliciting strong reactions, I have never known it to be a “meaningless label”. And it has been hijacked by high-profile psychiatrists – they bandy it about as a code-word everyone recognises: Anti-psychiatry = anti-science, flaky, bizarre, deviant. It is used to insult fellow professionals who step out of line… and, in their hands, it is a very effective weapon. I am fighting to reclaim this word, and it’s power.

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        • I don’t know that language, which belongs to everybody, can be “hijacked”. Antipsychiatry itself has gone back and forth between the negative, pejorative uses for its detractors, and the positive, liberatory health conscious uses for its supporters. If psychiatry, as a rule, did, does, and will do more harm than good then antipsychiatry becomes a protest of, and a defense against, that harm.

          I don’t hold that everybody must see themselves as antipsychiatrists. I do hold that those who identify with the word antipsychiatry have every right to do so. It is a way of thumbing one’s nose at the harming professions, and, at the same time, recovering responsibility for one’s actions, and taking back control of one’s health. Of course, there is also the opposite course of action, too. One could become a treatment junkie, and a “chronic”, incorrigible “mental health” services user or consumer. I, personally, don’t see any “health” advantages in that latter course of action whatsoever.

          I myself am an unrepentant anti-forced-psychiatry movement activist. If by antipsychiatry we mean anti-forced-psychiatry, then by all means, count me among your numbers. If by antipsychiatry you would mean preventing people from of their own free will consulting members of the psychiatric profession, although I’m not going there myself, I don ‘t have a problem with them doing so. What I have a problem with is psychiatry, in combo with the legal profession, taking away my freedom of choice, and stripping me of control over my own life. I’m completely against that form of “psychiatry”.

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          • Forgive me for interjecting, but Richard, the “ultra left” wants treatment for all…I don’t think that banishing psychiatry or even forced treatment is on the agenda for the “ultra left.”

            The “ultra left” wants to be sure that everyone has the opportunity to seek treatment (or, often, “for their own good” forced treatment.)

            So I’m not sure what you mean by “ultra left”

            Psychiatry is no longer a left/right issue (was OldHead saying something like that?)…but a for/against issue.

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        • Right on AP. I actually think we give this sort of stuff more power than it deserves by arguing about it in public forums such as MIA. LC finally answered the basic question to my satisfaction, that he is NOT AP, which is why I said we can should take note of it move on. I think the response — as well as the undercurrent of hostility — draws a clear line regarding what “side” LC represents. It also gives others a chance to contemplate where they stand themselves. It’s not worth getting into extended ego-infused debates about all this here. However psychiatric survivors who oppose the continued existence of psychiatry in any form should start to become a little more bold and make their positions more clear, so as a group we can get past this “critical psychiatry” stuff.

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          • I get the idea that he is against forced treatment, and so I can’t really say I have an argument with him. He can call himself what he will. I am aware that we have differing perspectives on AP, OldHead. “Critical Psychiatry” is another fuzzy matter. If LC could be said to have practiced “Critical Psychiatry”, he is not a proponent of forced treatment. Other proponents of “Critical Psychiatry” could be said to be proponents of forced psychiatry. As an anti-force activist, I find his mode of practice (at least prior to retirement) preferable to theirs. I guess another way for me to put this is to say that, in my opinion, all psychiatry is not the same psychiatry. Your view on this subject, of course, diverges from mine. I don’t have a problem respecting differences of opinion.

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          • Oldhead makes the following statement summing up Lee Coleman’s position:

            “I think the response — as well as the undercurrent of hostility — draws a clear line regarding what “side” LC represents.”

            This is a classic example of an ultra-left position that fails to distinguish “friends from enemies.” This is not a winning strategy to end all forms of psychiatric oppression.

            Any objective analysis of Lee Coleman’s views and social role would recognize that he is doing very important work exposing the entire oppressive paradigm of the Medical Model AND delivering serious blows to the institution of psychiatry.

            Just because he does not YET have an ‘all the way” position advocating for the abolishment of psychiatry, DOES NOT somehow put him in the camp of the enemy, as Oldhead strongly implies.

            No wonder Lee Coleman and others are turned off from dialoguing with people pushing a strong anti-psychiatry position. Ultra-left positions can be very damaging when it comes to “uniting all who can be united” against a common enemy.

            Of course there will be many important and powerful activists like Lee Coleman who still want to cling to preserving some old institutions from the old order. Call it “holding on to some remains of class privilege” or still wanting to believe their psychiatric medical credentials are worth something.

            As a firm anti-psychiatry activist, I believe that dissident psychiatrists have an important role to play working inside the “System.” Using their criticisms of the Medical Model, they can disrupt any, and all, gatherings of psychiatry everywhere on the planet. Their medical credentials will also provide them platforms to speak out on that many of us will never be invited to speak.

            Dissident psychiatrists can also use their credentials (for many decades) to promote some science regarding psych drug withdrawal and help those psychiatric survivors attempting to come off psych drugs.

            Psychiatry’s future is inseparably bound to the future of the entire capitalist/imperialist system. It is TOO VALUABLE to preserving the status quo to be allowed to go out of existence in this historical era OR be allowed to lose its executive power to incarcerate troublesome dissidents threatening the capitalist system.

            Thank you Lee Coleman for writing this blog and all that you do fighting the Medical Model.

            And I found your reference to the great revolutionary brother, George Jackson, very interesting and important to the evolution of your thinking, and also to many others who came to revolutionary consciousness during the 60’s era.

            Keep writing!


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          • And this is supposed to have something to do with me? It’s easy to quote revolutionaries. That doesn’t make someone revolutionary.

            Once again, professionals don’t tell survivors who their allies are. We decide that. There’s nothing to argue here. Later.

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          • Alex

            I am not clear on your point here. You obviously have some issues with how Lee Coleman responded to your above comments, That’s fine and certainly open for your critique.

            But are you prepared to put him in the camp of the enemy, simply because he does not completely agree with your exact approach? And thus negate all the positive work he is doing in his critique of the oppressive Medical Model

            Do you not see the danger of ultra-left positions when dealing with potential allies in Human Rights struggles?


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          • If we can distance ourselves a little from the psychiatric survivor versus “mental health” professional class struggle for a moment, I don’t see dialogue (i.e. communication) so much as a privilege, er, luxury. I think sometimes, in the name of getting things done, it’s an out and out necessity, even if the people you would be dialoguing with happen to have differing opinions from your own.

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          • I made an observation based on my particular dialogue which I feel has information relevant to “class struggle.” “If you do this for me, then I’ll do this for you.” Not what activism is about, to my mind, not a tit for tat situation. Plus there is more info in that if you go deeper, but I’m not going to give it that attention now.

            Overall, Richard, I don’t see any of this in terms of “allies” vs. “enemies.” My role in this is from a healing perspective, not political. I understand there are political issues at play here, but that is not my area of focus. I try to see what are the universal principles at work here vs. personal goals and agendas.

            My perspective, I believe, ascends “right vs. left,” my identifiers don’t come from this duality. I look more for where the evolution is already naturally occuring, as opposed to where it is stuck and in resistance.

            To me, the “enemy” isn’t people, per se, but more so, actions and behaviors which do harm to others, from wherever that comes. We all share in the potential to harm others, even if that is not our intention, so I advocate for expanded awareness and personal growth for anyone concerned, non-discriminatorily. I believe that would be for the greater good, as well as good for individuals seeking evolution and change.

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          • Just a note that it was I who, the last time last time Richard was attacking survivors’ AP organizing, suggested that Richard and LC start a professionals’ anti-psychiatry organization and made the same points about using professional privilege to help undermine psychiatry. Yet this never happened, instead their energy continues to be directed against survivors’ self-empowerment efforts. What happened?

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          • As per what oldhead is saying, Richard, this is one of my problems with how these dialogues are going down. Being asked to bring people to him and that we all “learn and study hard,” when I am asking to confer about a dire situation in San Francisco going on right now, where he is, is absurd! I’m not following anyone, and certainly not getting onto a psychiatrist’s bandwagon. That is precisely where a shift needs to take place. I mean a loud and clear wake up call, if this is not obvious.

            I am struggling to understand why some of you can’t get this, and take it so personally. Doesn’t it stand to reason that I’d be a fool to use my energy the way Lee suggested? That is totally for his own purposes and agenda, give me a break. I don’t see survivor empathy here in the slightest, quite the contrary. This is getting to be truly bizarre.

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          • Thanks for explaining the feeling of disconnect. Rest assured that your comment resonates on its own nonetheless. The only real issues here are a) the right of survivors to determine their own agenda and b) the best way to defeat psychiatry.

            Amusing as I find it, though there seems to be an attempt to portray me as foolishly or selfishly intransigent and “extreme,” my sole and consistent focus here has been on the above. And while it may seem at first glance that “I” am being “opposed from all sides,” all the so-called “sides” here are united in their defense of professionalism, and little else. Certainly not defeating psychiatry.

            It is bizarre that to refer to abolitionist AP sentiment as “ultra-left” when not one significant “leftist” organization supports anti-psychiatry (as they did in the 70’s), and that someone talks about OUR “drawing lines” between survivors and professionals — when those lines have been clearly drawn FOR us from the start.

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          • “when those lines have been clearly drawn FOR us from the start.”

            And they continue to be. I’ve been twice moderated in this thread for making direct and honest statements which reflect the truth of the situation, and it seems they were taken personally, rather than as an indication of the change needing to take place, which is the sole intention of my posts. So we’re back to status quo. That speaks volumes here, but I dare not say what!

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          • Basically, OldHead, if you want a leftist organization supporting antipsychiatry you form one. Ditto, an antipsychiatry organization supporting leftism. Ditto, non-partison and rightwing organizations. Organizations are sort of a DIY matter because if you don’t DIY it doesn’t get done. Blaming everybody else for what you don’t do is kind of a slippery slope to fall back on.

            As for supporting an abolitionist positions the question is abolition of what? I don’t think abolition of a belief system is going to make much progress. As in slavery, if you’re going to abolish something, it should be an institution, not a philosophy. I don’t, for instance, think it a good idea of abolish freedom of thought and expression. I think we need to get more specific when we talk about what we’re going to abolish. I don’t think it makes sense to abolish what does no harm to anybody in the first place. Big oppressive institutions of social control and torture, sure, get rid of them. People just trying to get by, and make ends meet? Naw. They’ve got to have some rights as human beings to begin with.

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          • Oldhead states the following: “It is bizarre that to refer to abolitionist AP sentiment as “ultra-left” …”

            Exactly who and where (please show the exact quote) has anyone in the comment section called an *anti-psychiatry* stance as being “ultra-left.”

            Oldhead states the following: “and that someone talks about OUR “drawing lines” between survivors and professionals ”

            Exactly who and where (please show the exact quote) has anyone talked about “drawing line” between survivors and professionals”

            And when Oldhead states the following:

            “I think the response — as well as the undercurrent of hostility — draws a clear line regarding what “side” LC represents.”

            I ask the question, exactly what “side” is Oldhead saying that Lee Coleman represents?

            If someone cannot honestly and accurately sum up (given the totality of Lee Coleman’s history of activism) what “side” he is on when it comes to fighting psychiatric oppression, then how do they expect to unite anyone to be a part of any kind of anti-psychiatry movement?

            Just because someone is not yet ready to identify as “anti-psychiatry” (despite decades of fighting against all forms of psychiatric abuse and the Medical Model) should they somehow be discarded and labeled as if they represent the other “side?”


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          • Richard Lewis said:

            “This is a classic example of an ultra-left position that fails to distinguish “friends from enemies.””

            Richard Lewis said:

            “Do you not see the danger of ultra-left positions when dealing with potential allies in Human Rights struggles?”

            Richard Lewis said:

            “Ultra-left positions can be very damaging when it comes to “uniting all who can be united” against a common enemy.”

            Does that answer your question, Richard?

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          • Kindredspirit

            No that does not answer the question.

            No where in any of these quotes you cited above is there a single reference to an anti-psychiatry position being “ultra-left.”

            What WAS called “ultra-left” here is a political position that labels potential friends and allies as part of the camp of the “enemy.”

            That is, a political stance that demands that people be “all the way” anti-psychiatry NOW. And if they (especially someone who might be a professional) will not accept the anti-psychiatry label (or someone’s definition of this label) then they must be working for the interests of psychiatry, and therefore be opposed and degraded.

            Unfortunately, the term “ultra-left” has different meanings to different people.

            My definition implies that someone with an “ultra-left” position is jumping stages in the development of a political movement. That is, not seeing how a radical political movement actually develops over time. And not developing a strategy and set of tactics that will have chance for victory.

            A consistent “ultra-left” position appears “radical” and “left” on the surface but its strategy and tactics actually disrupts the ability to gather allies through education and struggle over the long haul.

            I prefer to not argue over the definition of “ultra-left,” because of its different meanings to different people. And for that reason I will no longer use it to identify this wrong approach I am challenging in some of Oldhead’s comments.

            To avoid fighting over definitions, lets get to the heart of the matter here. I will ask you Kindredspirit, (and others) the question I raised in the above comment:

            “Just because someone is not yet ready to identify as “anti-psychiatry” (despite decades of fighting against all forms of psychiatric abuse and the Medical Model) should they somehow be discarded and labeled as if they represent the other “side?”


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          • How can oppressive attitudes and behaviors (define and notice as you will) be of any value in the fight for freedom against oppression? This is a general question to consider that particular paradox, especially when considering who the self-proclaimed leaders are of any movement.

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          • Thanks so much for pointing this out, Richard, I had not seen it until now, and I have responded in kind.

            I really was not being specific with this comment, btw, but in general, I do try to weed out oppressive leadership types, that’s a discernment I make regardless of political leanings and/or professional identity. Oppression is oppression, and it can come in from a variety of sources and self-identities. THAT, to my mind, is the real and true enemy.

            My comments are not intended to be personal, but to point out where we can all be more aware of how we might, ourselves, be contradicting the cause of freedom from oppression. That would be vital to recognize in ourselves.

            I find all politics oppressive, so I wouldn’t consider it to be an effective tool to use when seeking freedom from oppression. I’d consider it more to be undermining to that particular cause.

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        • What does “anti science” mean? Luddites who reject post-Industrial technology? Christian Science members who believe the physical universe is an illusion? Or simply a fellow scientist with a theory another rejects as unscientific and leads to a struggle between them and their followers–based more on egos than mere difference of reasoning patterns?

          It’s a highly elastic term meaning whatever the scientist or pseudo scientist wants it to mean. (Like “dummy.) It saves time and energy needed to present a rational argument.

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        • (As a general comment) I think that the demand for an end to legalized forced psychiatry is quintessential — both for those whose concerns are confined to civil or “Constitutional” (in the US) rights, AND to those who take a broader perspective, whose goal is to consign psychiatry and the mentality it represents to the dustbin of history.

          However there is an unavoidable symbiotic interplay between the two positions/goals: since psychiatry, as a tool for law-enforcement/social control, it depends on coercive force for its basic existence and “clientele”; depriving it of that capacity would send it on the road to certain extinction. So an end to forced psychiatry can be seen as both an end in itself and as a strategy towards the larger goal many of us have.

          Paradoxically, in order to create the public groundswell of pressure needed for such a demand to succeed, it is first necessary to conduct substantial education/self-education, to publicly deconstruct of psychiatry’s lies and the logical distortions underlying its acceptance, and widely expose its inherent destructiveness: which, in addition to the blatant obscenities of forced “treatment,” include the insidious effects of psychiatric mythology/ideology on our collective psyche, not just specific victims. Chief among these involves the pass given to those who run society to write off our collective dissatisfaction as a collection of “individual complaints,” to be approached one person at a time rather than via collective action against a systemic problem. Or, as some refer to it, revolutionary change.

          This sort of class analysis is not necessary in order to be anti-psychiatry, but it is necessary to create the anti-psychiatry consciousness which is a precondition for defeating psychiatry on a practical level. (And once people have attained that sort of consciousness, why would they go back?)

          So it appears both “sides” are stuck with one another for the foreseeable future, and we should learn how to pool our energies into some mutually beneficial efforts without trying to force or fake unity where it doesn’t exist, or requiring people to give up their principles.

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          • “So it appears both “sides” are stuck with one another for the foreseeable future, and we should learn how to pool our energies into some mutually beneficial efforts without trying to force or fake unity where it doesn’t exist, or requiring people to give up their principles.”

            I agree with you, so if you agree with me that my preference NOT to be labeled “anti-psychiatry,” should make no difference to my credibility, then I’ll be glad for that.

            I wrote a response to someone on the ISEPP listserve that amplifies on why our movement is going to need medical doctors who know about drugs and the brain, and know how to help non-psychiatrist physicians help their genuine (voluntary) patients, and I hope you and others take a look. I will be posting it here, today.


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          • Here is what I sent to an ISEPP questioner about the topic of psychosis, a subject of much confusion, especially if it is not recognized that some are medically caused and some are not. It is critically important for genuine help that each situation is evaluated properly.

            “…. while psychosis is most often not caused by any known biological abnormality and therefore is in my opinion best thought of as an emotional and behavioral response to painful and challenging aspects of one’s life— ie not a medical but a personal, one might say spiritual, problem.

            That leaves, however, some instances of psychosis that ARE secondary to medical, biological causes. Examples are reaction to drugs, such as so called “antipsychotics” which in fact can cause the very thing Psychiatry is teaching is being “treated.” How’s that for the Big Lie.

            But many other medical things can also cause psychosis. Tumors, whether primary from the brain or metastatic from somewhere else but now residing in the brain, metabolic disorders that alter the environment of the brain, side effects of medications legitimately used to treat various medical conditions, environmental toxins, fevers from many medical causes, intoxications from legal or illegal drugs.

            Psychiatry claims all psychosis, in fact all serious mental problems, are signs of illness but we know that is a self serving lie. This should not blind us from understanding that it is critically important to properly evaluate whether a biological, medical cause is or is not present in any particular case.

            I stress this because some persons properly outraged at Psychiatry’s lies see no need, no place for physicians in a system of care for persons in the midst of psychosis, but having many times myself assisted other physicians to properly tell the difference between a genuinely medically based psychosis and one that is not properly helped by any medical intervention but will respond to interpersonal support, never thru force or fraud— I can tell you that we are going to need physicians to help other physicians, and
            those who ignore these realities need to think a little more carefully.”

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          • Dr. Coleman, if you want to help people with legitimate medical problems causing gloom or weird thoughts/behaviors I am all for it. 🙂

            That, however, is not psychiatry. You don’t visit psychiatrists for anemia, thyroid disease, Lyme’s disease, or brain tumors though they’ll gladly label you with “Clinical Depression,” “Schizophrenia,” or “Bipolar” if you do.

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          • Rachel

            I agree with you.

            In a JUST world ,where real science was taught to regular physicians, they would know that “psychosis” could occur from certain medical conditions, and then act accordingly. This DOES NOT require the need for psychiatry.

            In a JUST world, those people currently labeled as genuine dissident psychiatrists, could either choose to do therapy (and now call themselves therapists) OR choose to become neurologists, for which there is genuine science to describe certain actual brain disorders and the respective forms of legitimate treatment.

            There is NO science to justify the existence of medicalizing psychological distress and responding to these problems as if they required medical “treatment.”

            The existence of modern psychiatry has a definite role in shifting people’s attention away from the inherent systemic problems (injustice and inequality) within the class based capitalist system.


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          • if you agree with me that my preference NOT to be labeled “anti-psychiatry,” should make no difference to my credibility, then I’ll be glad for that.

            I’m sure you would be. However i.m.o. it shatters your credibility from the outset. My comments were addressed to those who DO consider themselves AP, and the only controversy is over whether or not to be anti-psychiatry one must be an abolitionist. (My position is yes, or at least that this is more realistic.)

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          • You’ve argued against pragmatism before, OldHead, and now you’re trying to suggest that you are for it.

            I consider myself antipsychiatry, but when it comes to abolitionist, it is forced treatment, psychiatric oppression, that I would abolish, and that includes non-voluntary voluntary treatment, the plea bargain. I’m not against any consultation that is freely entered into, and freely disengaged from, even if that consultation is with a consultant trained in psychiatry. You seem to think you’re going to convince everybody that psychiatry should be discontinued as a profession, and that eventually everybody, even psychiatrists, amiably are going to agree with you. I say, alright. Good luck with that. I’m not so patient in every sense that you might make out of that word.

            I don’t know, OldHead, but I don’t think it is going to be so easy to talk psychiatry to death.

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          • LC: ” help non-psychiatrist physicians help their genuine (voluntary) patients”

            Except that – the whole diagnosis (diag-nonsense) and drugging basis of psychiatry – which has leeched into GP practice – is based upon fiction and marketing.

            There are **no** voluntary patients. There are unhappy, suffering patients who have been told by the TV, their family, their schools, their workplace, and their inability to function in our sick, high pressure, overdriven society – to “ask your doctor.”

            This is not voluntary, any more than the ball-and-chain effect of “devices” is voluntary. They know how neuro-advertise, and adding the peer pressure and the herd mentality of societal sentiment, ensures that people will “voluntarily” “seek treatment.”

            I heard yesterday of more teen suicides in Florida in the wake of the traumatic shooting about a year ago. These teens were “receiving treatment” for “PTSD.” Did they know that the “treatment” increases the risk of suicide? Did the “treatment” work to prevent their suicides?

            They only did what society and TV say to do, “I can’t sleep, I keep seeing the event over and over, I keep thinking how I’ve failed, I cannot adjust to this world where my best friends can be shot by a mad gunman…so I will tell my doctor, because that’s what you do.”

            That is not voluntary treatment, and as we know here at MIA, it is based on a lie and a long range neuromarketing plan.

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          • Yes JanCarol. The closest thing to voluntary patients psychiatrists have are people desperate to end their unhappiness–but unwilling or unable to make necessary life changes or simply deal with negative circumstances. So desperate that–though the doctor or psychiatrist tells them the drugs fix no known brain problem but may make you feel better before giving them. Silly how many would think it scandalous to get pills or injections from street dealers to feel good, but if a man’s a doctor it’s okay. (Doctors have dealt illegally with drugs too. Further complicating things.)

            I don’t believe in mind altering drugs to feel good and am angry at being lied too despite no “involuntary” imprisonments or AOT sentences. I did what I thought was the responsible thing to do–not just for me but those around me. As a result my finances, relationships, and health are ruined. And I’m forced to mooch off my aging parents who aren’t happy about the “help” I was given either.

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          • (As a general comment) I think that the demand for an end to legalized forced psychiatry is quintessential — both for those whose concerns are confined to civil or “Constitutional” (in the US) rights, AND to those who take a broader perspective, whose goal is to consign psychiatry and the mentality it represents to the dustbin of history.

            Loud applause.

            However there is an unavoidable symbiotic interplay between the two positions/goals: since psychiatry, as a tool for law-enforcement/social control, it depends on coercive force for its basic existence and “clientele”; depriving it of that capacity would send it on the road to certain extinction. So an end to forced psychiatry can be seen as both an end in itself and as a strategy towards the larger goal many of us have.

            I don’t think there is a larger goal. When psychiatry is no longer a wing of law enforcement/social control (i.e. granted a higher power over the lives of other people), psychiatry is no longer a problem. As many people as there are out there looking for something, end the punitive torturing aspects of psychiatry, and you still haven’t relieved this pursuit of an answer to problems in life. Some people turn to religion, others turn to counseling, still others turn to an end to counseling, if not murder, and I haven’t got any answers, so there.

            Call it pepsichology, or pepsiciatry, or pepsicolicism, somebody is going to be selling something, and somebody else is going to be buying. Paying for their own abduction, poisoning, torture, imprisonment, and disenfranchising mistreatment? I dunno. I’d think people have got to have better things they could be paying for.

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        • I am fighting to reclaim this word, and it’s power.

          Just a thought — I don’t think it needs to be “reclaimed,” I think it’s working just fine, as evidenced by the emotion “anti-psychiatry” arouses in those who otherwise pride themselves on their “detached objectivity.” While all sorts of disingenuous epithets (“anti-science,” etc.) may be used to justify this unseemly emotional reaction to the term “anti-psychiatry,” what it viscerally connotes to many in shrinkville is the psychiatric version of “race traitor.”

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          • Don’t think it needs to be reclaimed either, but the history of the word itself is pretty interesting as antipsychiatry began as a pejorative term that was picked up by detractors of psychiatry, and transformed into a positive, or, rather, one could say it had two origins, probably distinct from each other, and now, perhaps, a new twist.

            Some people interpret antipsychiatry as meaning the absolute destruction of psychiatry, the end of psychiatry, zero psychiatrists. I think that is a pretty bizarre interpretation myself, and it certainly wasn’t like that entirely back in the 1970s. I see antipsychiatry as repulsion, reverse magnetism, applied to psychiatry. I’m not interested in laying on a psychiatrists couch, nor in being imprisoned by one, nor in fraudulently playing “sick” for the entirety of my life. Antipsychiatry gives me the means and the freedom to oppose coercive psychiatric practices. If I can use antipsychiatry to thumb my nose at coercive psychiatry, I am happy to do so. Although I wouldn’t see psychiatry extinguished entirely, not wanting to prevent people from pursuing what interests them, I would certainly outlaw coercive (essentially unconstitutional) psychiatric practices that we might return to rule of law, and the letter of the law.

            Thomas Szasz pointed out that the word itself was first used by a German psychiatrist early in the 20th century against detractors of the profession, but then it fell out of use after WW1. David Cooper recoined (for lack of a better word) the term in the context of the countercultural revolution taking place in the 1960s. The acknowledgement that psychiatry, typically, does more harm than good, and that we would, all in all, be better off with it, informs this usage.

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          • The acknowledgement that psychiatry, typically, does more harm than good, and that we would, all in all, be better off with it, informs this usage.


            Sounds to me like you’ve been reading Wikipedia again.

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          • Huh? So you think psychiatry does more good than harm, do you? If so, you’re welcome to it. I, however, not being a child, nor a sub-human, would prefer to be left to my own devices.

            As for documentation, OldHead, what do you want? The usual crap? Or, do you want to be cited as a source yourself?

            Excuse me for being literate and reading. Or, don’t. I don’t need your approval either.

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  4. You brought up the issue of child abuse and psychiatry. The DSM does NOT allow ANY “mental health” worker to EVER bill ANY insurance company for EVER helping ANY child abuse survivor EVER, unless they first misdiagnose them with the billable DSM disorders.


    This has resulted in huge percentages of child abuse survivors being misdiagnosed with the DSM disorders. Today over 90% of “borderline” stigmatized are misdiagnosed child abuse survivors. Over 80% of those stigmatized as “depressed,” “anxious,” “bipolar,” or “schizophrenic,” are misdiagnosed child abuse survivors.


    And profiteering off of covering up child abuse has, historically, always been the primary actual societal function of the “mental health” industries, I eventually learned.


    As the mother of a child abuse survivor, who was attacked by child rape covering up and profiteering “mental health” workers, prior to even mentally coming to grips with the fact my very young child had actually been sexually assaulted. I do hope the “mental health” workers will get out of the business of profiteering off of covering up child abuse, by poisoning millions of child abuse survivors, and their concerned parents.

    Especially since all this poisoning of the child abuse survivors also functions to aid, abet, and empower the child rapists. Leading Western civilization to the point that we now have huge child sex trafficking and pedophile “epidemics.”


    Reign of Error, and terror, is correct. But the good thing is that if a mother is able to get her child away from the child rapists fairly quickly. And keep her abused child away from the insane “mental health” workers, who believe that once the medical evidence of the abuse is handed over, the way to help that child – four years after the abuse, once he’s well along in his healing journey – is to have him psychiatrically poisoned. Bye, bye crazy psychiatrist!

    And if the mother is able to keep her child away from the insane school social workers, who want to get their hands on her child – ten years after the abuse, once he’s largely healed – because he went from remedial reading in first grade, to getting 100% on his state standardized tests in eighth grade.

    If a mother can protect her abused child from the insane, child rape covering up “mental health” workers, the child can largely heal and eventually graduate from university Phi Beta Kappa, just like you.

    Reign of Error, and terror. We need the “mental health” workers out of the child abuse covering up business, and our country needs to start arresting and convicting, and maybe even castrating, the child rapists. A society cannot survive when the elder generations are literally attacking the children, and that is what both the pedophiles and the “mental health” workers are doing. This needs to stop.

    Thank you, Dr. Coleman, for speaking out against “pharmaceutical psychiatry.”

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  5. Dr. Coleman, aka Lee, thank you for this interview. I appreciate you speaking out against some of the harmful aspects of psychiatry and that you have done so for a long time. Change usually only happens in small steps and it is imperative to pool all resources to make progress. The voices of professionals who take a stance on ‘any’ harmful aspect is important to the overall battle against the harms and injustices of psychiatry and is very helpful in bringing more awareness.

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      • Yes lets do that! I hope we see the day when people who are going through difficult circumstances don’t get labelled and drugged for it and forced treatment is stopped. Thanks for adding your voice as I am sure you have more relaxing things to do in your retirement 🙂

        I get what you said in your response to ISEPP and that it is important to rule out physical illnesses or things such as a brain tumor that could be causing unusual behaviors or distress for a person. During cancer treatment I became very physically ill with severe vertigo, tinnitus, nosebleeds and insomnia from the steroids and 3 toxic chemo drugs. I had some anxiety but the young psychiatrist I was sent to and told it was for “help with sleep meds” threw the DSM at me with 4 labels and prescribed AD’s, benzos and anti-psychotics that had horrible adverse effects.

        I subscribe to Dr. Kelly Brogan’s emails and thought this was an interesting article she provided. The part under ‘Respect for the Full Expanse of Issues’ coincides with what you said.


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  6. Two part poll for people officially “diagnosed” with “Bipolar 2.”

    1. Did your psychiatrist claim an SSRI unmasked the “symptoms” you never had before using it?
    A. Yes
    B. No
    2. What did the psychiatrist prescribe the SSRI for?
    A. Depression
    B. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
    C. Other

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  7. To JanCarol’s comment above:

    Hello JanCarol

    Hospitals have medical patients who are there because they want to be there, being treated for genuine medical disorders. That is what I was referring to.

    Everything you say below is exactly what I believe and have spoken and written since the 1970s.


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    • Thanks for your comment, Dr. Coleman.

      I could argue that the entire medical system is not voluntary, but based on marketing of for-profit medicine.

      Overactive bladder? Ask your doctor…

      …and the doctors are frequently the target of these marketing campaigns: “Does your patient have high cholesterol?” (when there is no evidence that lowering cholesterol is always a good thing.) HPV vaccination is an excellent example of marketing to doctors and patients for an intervention which may do more harm than good.

      One goes to a doctor, the doctor is almost required to intervene, whether that is drugs, procedure, device, etc. All of which are profit based.

      But this is not the forum for that discussion.

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      • One goes to a doctor, the doctor is almost required to intervene, whether that is drugs, procedure, device, etc.

        Which is why every person should practice their assertiveness before setting foot in a medical office: saying “that’s none of your business” to intrusive queries, to screenings; and No to un-informed consent- make them give you every scrap of info that they’re required to. Make sure you are clear on whose agenda you are there to serve, and don’t be persuaded into theirs instead of yours.

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  8. Some thoughts. Lee’s talking points on what entails an interview are spot on. As far as my experience has been as a professional and then so called patient after 2001 there were no trainings in any type of interviewing and much historical information was lost or quashed.

    My thoughts for all the professionals I saw where really? really ? you are trained professional? My developmentally disabled relative could do a better job in the area of compassion and narrative techniques.
    Alex’s take on attorney’s yes but I would extend that to any profession today the old adage a few bad apples is reversed there are a few good apples and when you are lucky to meet them you want st least I do- kiss the ground they walk on.
    Since I have myself in so many places and groups- a living Venn diagram – I thought of a new way of thinking about the anti stuff.
    Slavery- the abolitionists couldn’t just make it go away until the Emancipation Proclamation. It existed on a minute by minute basis. They couldn’t stop the separating of families, the abuses, and the inflection of trauma that some folks knew would take generations to resolve.
    And then when it did come – it continued though in a more concealed and more heinous? way with the Restoration and Jim Crow life.
    There are many ways to be a slave.
    So again I go to the fact that fespite my outrage- good for a igniting but never good as a life support system – there has to be some sort of contact.
    Maybe Rumi – Out there beyond the field of right and wrong I will meet you there.

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  9. Slavery- the abolitionists couldn’t just make it go away until the Emancipation Proclamation… And then when it did come – it continued though in a more concealed and more heinous? way with the Restoration and Jim Crow life…There are many ways to be a slave.

    It was actually the Civil War that ended slavery, the Emancipation Proclamation was just a piece of paper.

    And yes, the essence of slavery remains within the prison and psychiatric systems, where its legacy continues via the programming of people to believe their dissatisfaction with the system is a problem with themselves and not the system.

    “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, only ourselves can free our minds.” — Marley

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  10. I stand corrected – knew it just didn’t put it down.
    I still can’t go all out but I can enumerate and detail the abject awfulness of much of psychiatry.
    Until we come up with a way to handle trauma in a better way there is not much – unless you have lots of money to recover from rape, some types of military service, parenthood, substance abuse and there currently no systemic change agents on all the isms of present and past times. No restorative justice at the present time and with legal entities being so terribly prejudiced no way to sue for true and real medical malpractice.
    And yes, much of the so called left bought and drank the cool aid of medication thanks to those at the medical advertising hall of fame. Yes it’s real and what great humans and humanitarians. Dr Salk and Sabin are so proud of you all!
    And neuroadvertising- brilliant name and truth so there is that aspect as well.
    Lobsters starting cooking in tepid water – all of us.
    If neurologists had better personalities maybe they could do what Lee suggests. One really doesn’t need a MD degree just the educational background and awareness and the capacity to heal in the best sense of the word.

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    • Hi CatNight , if you’re responding to me my intent wasn’t to “correct” but to add to some of what you’re saying.

      There is no answer within the context of this system, we can only try to support each other as best possible as we fight to get rid of it, keeping in mind that the misery we have been programmed to see as our individual problems will only begin to subside when we have corrected the precipitating conditions.

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