In Defense of Anti-Psychiatry


On August 19, 2018, an article titled “The Reality of Mental Illness” was published on Psychology Today. The authors were Ronald Pies, MD and Mark Ruffalo, LCSW. Dr. Pies is a professor of psychiatry at Tufts and at SUNY. Professor Ruffalo has a private psychotherapy practice in Tampa, Florida. He is also an instructor of medical education (psychiatry) at the University of Central Florida, an adjunct professor of social work at University of South Florida, and a voluntary associate professor of psychiatry at Centerstone, “…a not-for-profit healthcare organization…[that]…provides mental health and substance abuse treatment, education and support to communities in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee and additionally offers individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities life skills development, employment and housing services.”

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Here’s the opening paragraph:

“Psychiatry is unique among the medical specialties in the sense that it has a very active and vocal countermovement known loosely as antipsychiatry. What started in the 1960s with the writings of psychiatrists Thomas Szasz and R.D. Laing, among others, has since broadened to include a whole host of ideas and philosophies subsumed under ‘antipsychiatry.'”

This introductory paragraph isn’t entirely accurate. What is generally opposed by those of us in the anti-psychiatry movement is the bio-bio-bio travesty, with its consequent destructiveness and disempowerment, that underpins and drives almost all psychiatric activity today. And the opposition to this spurious and destructive philosophy predates the work of Thomas Szasz and R.D. Laing.

In the asylums, the bio-bio-bio concepts had held sway from about the middle of the 1800’s, as management of these institutions was increasingly assigned to psychiatrists. The idea was that having a medical professional in charge would produce a more humane milieu and would improve effectiveness. In reality, most of the “treatments” devised by these individuals consisted essentially of torture, and discharge rates declined steadily.

By about 1900, however, the medical model was being seriously challenged. This was partly because of the inhumane “treatments,” but was also a reflection of the fact that, apart from general paresis and a few other organic conditions, research persistently failed to identify any consistent correlation between organic pathology and psychiatry’s putative illnesses.

By 1920, the psychoanalytic model developed by Sigmund Freud and others was well established in Europe and North America. The techniques derived from that model were being practiced widely by community-based psychiatrists, and were even making some minor inroads in the asylums.

In the period between 1920 and 1960, various other models for conceptualizing human problems were developed. These included the humanistic, interpersonal, and existential perspectives, each attracting wide followings.

Although the psychoanalytic and other psychosocial schools represented formidable challenges to biological psychiatry, they were not seen as anti-psychiatry as such, for the simple reason that they were widely embraced by psychiatrists themselves, especially those working in the community.

So, although the term anti-psychiatry didn’t emerge until later, there was a great deal of opposition to psychiatry’s bio-bio-bio perspective at least as early as 1920. This was reflected clearly by the use of the term “reaction” throughout DSM-I, 1952 (schizophrenic reaction, depressive reaction, etc.).  The various “mental disorders” were conceptualized, not as disease entities in themselves, but rather as reactions of the individual to psychological, social, and biological factors.

Although there was widespread enthusiasm among psychiatrists for the psychoanalytic and other psychosocial approaches, there was also a strong sense that the problems being addressed weren’t really illnesses, which they weren’t, that the remedial activities weren’t really medical in nature, which they weren’t, and that the psychiatrists who followed these approaches weren’t really practicing medicine, which they weren’t.

This sense of inferiority created a vulnerability within psychiatry, and when the psychoactive drugs began to come on stream in the 1950’s, and increasingly in the 60’s and 70’s, psychiatrists recognized the opportunity for increased credibility, prestige, and remuneration. In this context, they began to abandon the humanistic eclecticism of former decades and revert to the bio-bio-bio perspective, staking everything on the gamble that the evidence to support this position would soon be found, which, of course, it hasn’t. The term reaction was eliminated in DSM-II, 1968, formalizing psychiatry’s return to the bio-bio-bio perspective.

But the transition was neither smooth nor immediate. A great many psychiatrists opposed the escalation in the use of drugs, and had to be “softened up” by peer pressure and pharma marketing. It is largely forgotten today, but many pharma ads in psychiatric journals in the 60’s and 70’s did not promote the notion of the drugs as treatment, but rather as aids to psychotherapy — they would help the client to start talking about his/her problems.

Here is a two-page ad for Valium, July 1974:

Valium ad first page

Valium ad second page

And an ad for Serax, October 1972:

And a two-page ad for Elavil, May 1974:

Elavil ad first page

Elavil ad second page

These were all taken from the American Journal of Psychiatry, the APA’s own journal, for the years 1972 and 1974.

The general point here is that opposition to the illness model predates the writings of Drs. Szasz and Laing, and was promoted by various individuals and professions, including psychiatry itself. The history of how this opposition was muted within psychiatry and of how the vast majority of psychiatrists came to align themselves with the pharma-APA orthodoxy has not yet been fully written, but will probably emerge in the coming years, as increasing numbers of retiring psychiatrists speak out against the hoax and the recruitment methods used to promote it. We do know that pharma poured enormous sums of money into this endeavor. Daniel Carlat’s book Unhinged (2010) provides interesting insights in this area, though from a later time-frame.

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Today, there is, of course, an active, vocal, and growing movement called anti-psychiatry, of which I am proud to consider myself a member. This movement exists for the following reasons:

  1. Psychiatry’s definition of a mental disorder/illness is so wide that it embraces virtually every significant problem of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving, and psychiatry uses this definition to spuriously medicalize a growing range of problems that are not medical in nature.
  1. Psychiatry routinely presents their “diagnoses” as the causes of the specific problems, when in fact they are merely labels with no explanatory significance. These so-called illnesses are not discovered in nature as real illnesses are.  Rather, they are invented by psychiatry, as are the facile checklists that psychiatry uses to “diagnose” them.

The lack of explanatory value can be readily demonstrated by the following hypothetical conversation:

Customer:  Why am I so depressed, off my food, unable to sleep, tired all the time, and not interested in doing anything?
Psychiatrist:  Because you have an illness called major depressive disorder.
Customer:  How do you know I have this illness?
Psychiatrist:  Because you are depressed, off your food, unable to sleep, tired all the time, and not interested in doing anything.

The only evidence for the so-called illness are the very thoughts, actions, and feelings that it pretends to explain. The “diagnosis” of “major depressive disorder” adds absolutely nothing to an understanding of the issues, sheds no light on its causes or precipitants, and provides no insights that might help ameliorate the problem. It merely serves to provide the appearance of legitimacy to the administration of drugs and/or electric shocks. It’s a monumental and shameful hoax.

Real-life versions of the above hypothetical conversation should occur in psychiatric offices and facilities every day. But they don’t, because they are too transparent, and would give the hoax away. The conversations that actually occur run along these lines:

Customer:  Why am I so depressed, off my food, unable to sleep, tired all the time, and not interested in doing anything?
Psychiatrist:  Because you have an illness called major depressive disorder.
Customer:  How do you know I have this illness?
Psychiatrist:  Because you meet the scientifically validated criteria.

But in fact, the criteria (five hits out of nine on the facile checklist) is not validated and cannot be validated because there is no definition of major depressive disorder other than five hits out of nine on the facile checklist. Essentially, the only really honest answer to the customer’s how-do-you-know question is: because we psychiatrists say so. Similar considerations apply to psychiatry’s other “diagnoses.”

  1. Psychiatry has routinely deceived their clients, the public, the media, and government agencies that these loose clusters of vaguely defined problems are in fact illnesses with known neural pathology. To explain away profound human suffering that stems from exploitation, poverty, abuse, over-crowding, unrelieved drudgery, depersonalization, disempowerment, bereavement, loss, etc., as neuro-pathology, in the absence of any evidence for same, is stigmatizing, offensive, and insulting.
  1. Psychiatry has blatantly promoted drugs as corrective measures for these “illnesses,” when in fact it is well-known in pharmacological circles that no psychiatric drug corrects any neural pathology. In fact, the opposite is the case. All psychiatric drugs exert their effect by distorting or suppressing normal functioning.
  1. Psychiatry has worked hand-in-glove with the pharmaceutical industry in the creation of a large body of unreplicated, contradictory, and misleading research, all designed to “prove” the ontological reality of the “illnesses” and the efficacy and safety of the pharma products.
  1. A great many psychiatrists have shamelessly accepted large sums of pharma money for very questionable activities. These activities include the widespread presentation of infomercials in the guise of CEUs; the ghost-writing of books and papers which were actually written by pharma employees, including at least one psychiatric textbook (here); acting as paid psychiatric “thought leaders” who promote new drugs and diagnoses for pharma; etc., etc…
  1. Psychiatry’s spurious diagnoses are inherently disempowering. To tell a person, who in fact has no biological pathology, that he or she has an incurable illness which necessitates psychiatric drugs and/or high-voltage electric shocks, sometimes for life, is an intrinsically immoral and disempowering act which falsely robs people of hope, and encourages them to settle for a life of drug-induced dependency and mediocrity.
  1. Psychiatry’s “treatments,” though they may sometimes induce transient feelings of well-being, are almost always destructive and damaging in the long-term, and are frequently administered without informed consent. In my experience, it is rare to encounter a psychiatric “patient” who has been fully informed concerning the adverse consequences of the drugs and shocks.
  1. Psychiatry’s spurious and self-serving medicalization of every significant problem of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving effectively undermines human resilience, and fosters a culture of powerlessness, uncertainty, and dependency. Fallaciously relabeling as illnesses problems which previous generations accepted as matters to be addressed and worked on, and harnessing billions of pharma dollars to promote this false message, is morally repugnant.

In addition to these general deceptions and malfeasances, psychiatry has committed numerous specific acts in which the welfare of their clients has been subordinated to their own guild interests. For instance:

  1. In 2013, with the publication of DSM-5, the APA eliminated the bereavement exclusion (p 161) which had effectively discouraged the assignment of a “diagnosis” of “major depressive disorder” to a bereaved person. Since DSM-5, however, people in the throes of mourning can be told the grotesque lie that the death of their loved one was merely a trigger, and that their sadness is really the result of a brain illness, for which psychiatry has “safe and effective” treatments (i.e. drugs and electric shocks).
  1. Also in DSM-5, the APA eliminated the antidepressant-induced mania exclusion. This exclusion, which was clearly articulated in DSM-IV (p 332), had prohibited a “diagnosis” of “bipolar disorder” in cases where the manic behavior was caused by antidepressant treatment (drugs or shocks).  Since DSM-5, this “diagnosis” can be assigned if the mania persists “…beyond the physiological effect…” of the “treatment,” a condition that is impossible to determine.

In short, psychiatry is intellectually and morally bankrupt. The critical question is not why would a person be anti-psychiatry, but rather why would a person not. Or as Ted Chabasinski more elegantly put it in his 2013 post: “Of Course I’m Anti-Psychiatry. Aren’t You?” Auntie Psychiatry has used the same phrase as the title of her 2017 book. 

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Here are some further excerpts from the Dr. Pies/Prof. Ruffalo paper, interspersed with my comments and reflections.

[Other critics of psychiatry] “…seem to harbor a visceral hatred for ‘all things psychiatry’…One has to look no further than the comments left by some on antipsychiatry websites, calling for violence against psychiatrists and others in the field.”

What Dr. Pies and Prof. Ruffalo need to recognize here is that there is anger on both sides of this issue. It is hypocritical of Dr. Pies and Prof. Ruffalo to decry the expressions of anger directed at psychiatry while ignoring the steady stream of vituperation and invective that is directed towards members of the anti-psychiatry movement.

It should also be borne in mind that a great many of the individuals who critique psychiatry have suffered profound, and often irreversible, damage from psychiatric “treatments.”  Dr. Pies and Prof. Ruffalo might benefit from reading some of these first-hand accounts, in the light of the obvious reality that anger is a normal human response to hurt. I think it’s unlikely that either Dr. Pies or Prof. Ruffalo has lost large segments of their personal memories to high-voltage electric shocks to the brain. I think it’s also unlikely that either has experienced the agonies of neuroleptic-induced akathisia.

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“Perhaps the most pervasive — and harmful — claim made by antipsychiatry is that mental illness doesn’t really exist, and that the treatments for mental illness are merely concealed attempts to exert social control over the population. (A related claim is that all psychiatric medications ‘do more harm than good’ and are driving an ‘epidemic’ of mental illness. Paradoxically, the latter claim contradicts the notion that mental illness doesn’t exist — see Pies, 2015).”

This paragraph is confusing. Notice that the first sentence contains two assertions: 1. antipsychiatry claims that mental illness doesn’t really exist; and 2. antipsychiatry claims that psychiatric “treatments” are merely concealed attempts to exert social control over the population.

And Dr. Pies and Prof. Ruffalo are telling us that this dual assertion is the most pervasive and harmful claim made by anti-psychiatry.

So let’s see if we can unravel the issues. Firstly, the assertion that “mental illness doesn’t really exist” is woefully ambiguous. What the majority of anti-psychiatry writers say is something quite different: that the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors which psychiatry labels as illnesses, are not illnesses, though the thoughts, feelings and behaviors themselves are very real, and can sometimes be devastating to the individuals concerned. Most of us also take pains to exclude from this assertion those entries in the DSM which are due to a general medical condition.

The problem with the Pies/Ruffalo statement is that it fails to distinguish between the thoughts, feelings and behaviors which are indeed real, and the putative illnesses, which are not. In this regard, Dr. Pies and Prof. Ruffalo are sowing seeds of confusion among their own adherents.

Secondly, the assertion that “treatments for mental illness are merely concealed attempts to exert social control over the population” is not, in my experience, particularly pervasive in anti-psychiatry circles, though it probably occurs from time to time. What it says essentially is that psychiatrists, going about their day-to-day work, are covertly attempting to exert social control over the population.

In my experience, the primary motivation behind most psychiatric activity is making a living and gaining prestige and advancement. At the same time, it is an obvious fact that psychiatry, whose main function is the chemical and electrical numbing of legitimate human distress, plays a critical role in the maintenance of many of the exploitations and injustices that characterize our society. But I doubt if many psychiatrists actually conceptualize their role in these terms. In my entire career, I have heard only one psychiatrist state unambiguously that psychiatry is an arm of law enforcement. The vast majority have bought the illness theory, and cling to the fiction that they are real doctors battling bravely against real illnesses.

The issue is not the deliberate exertion of social control over the population, but rather the promotion of the falsehood that despondency/distress arising from adverse events and/or persistent adverse circumstances is really the result of chemical or electrical malfunctions in the affected individuals’ brains. It is an obvious fact that this falsehood constitutes a de facto condoning of the institutionalized injustices, and a passive collusion with the perpetrators. But it is a fact to which psychiatrists generally seem particularly oblivious. Even when the drugs are clearly being administered for management/control purposes (e.g. in nursing homes, group homes, foster homes, etc.), I think most psychiatrists still manage to convince themselves that they are battling illness and improving quality of life.  The rationalizing mind is an extraordinarily creative faculty.

Thirdly, psychiatric drugs do indeed effect more harm than good, especially in the long term. We are seeing this with increasing clarity in recent years, as more and more individuals who have been damaged by psychiatric drugs and electric shocks are speaking out concerning the harm they have suffered. And it should also be borne in mind that the reason we hadn’t heard much from these people in former years is that their voices were systematically stifled by psychiatric condescension: it’s just your illness talking, or threats: this shot of haloperidol will have you feeling like your old self again.

In addition, psychiatry, on whom  the burden of proving efficacy squarely lies, has never managed to produce convincing evidence of substantive long-term efficacy, and has studiously avoided the issue of long-term harm. With regards to the latter, there is a large body of prima facie evidence linking psychiatric drugs with the enormous increase in apparently unmotivated suicides and mass murders. But, to the best of my knowledge, psychiatry has never undertaken a definitive study to clarify this connection. In the 2016 US legislative session, the late Senator John McCain and Congressman David Jolly introduced bills in their respective chambers which mandated post-mortem screenings for psychiatric drugs in all veterans who died by suicide. The bills, which were not supported by psychiatry, failed. Now why in the world would psychiatry not support such measures? Why is psychiatry not actively pushing for the reintroduction of these or similar bills today? Could it be that they know full well what the results of such autopsies would show? Could it be that psychiatrists, despite the unabashed praise that they bestow so unstintingly on themselves, are at heart more concerned with their own guild interests than with the welfare of their clients? Shouldn’t psychiatry’s failure to objectively investigate this pressing matter be considered malfeasance of a most grievous nature?

The concern that these drugs precipitate violent and suicidal behavior is not new. In 1991, a group of Yale researchers, most of whom were psychiatrists (Robert King et al) published a paper titled Emergence of Self-Destructive Phenomena in Children and Adolescents during Fluoxetine Treatment. (Fluoxetine is an SSRI, marketed as Prozac.) Here’s a quote from their abstract:

“Self-injurious ideation or behavior appeared de novo or intensified during fluoxetine treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder in six patients, age 10 to 17 years old, who were among 42 young patients receiving fluoxetine for obsessive-compulsive disorder at a university clinical research center.”

And here are two quotes from the body of the paper:

“A…most intriguing possibility is that the emergence or intensification of self-destructive behavior and ideation during treatment is due to a specific effect of fluoxetine on the regulation of aggression directed either outward or toward the self. Alterations in serotonergic metabolism have been implicated in a variety of violent phenomena, including, in animals, certain types of aggressive behavior (Olivier et al., 1990) and, in humans, completed suicide, suicide attempts, impulsive violent acts, and obsessions of violence (Coccaro, 1989; Brown et al., 1990; Leckman et al., 1990; Roy and Linnoila, 1990)”


“Additional clinical and neurobiological research is needed to characterize more carefully those children and adults who experience adverse responses to fluoxetine.”

That was 28 years ago. Since then there has been a very large increase in the prescribing of these drugs and a corresponding increase in apparently unmotivated suicides and murders. There is also a large body of anecdotal evidence linking SSRI’s to these tragedies (e.g. AntiDepAware). But the definitive study on this matter has still not been done. Perhaps psychiatrists are too busy writing prescriptions? Or perhaps the results of such a study would have too severe an impact on their business? Or perhaps the study has been done, and the results suppressed? In any event, the unfulfilled call by King et al twenty-eight years ago stands as a challenge to psychiatry’s persistent claim that their drugs are safe and effective and that they have their clients’ best interest at heart.

Many other researchers and writers have noted the link between SSRI’s and suicide/violence. Joseph Glenmullen, MD, a psychiatrist, summarized these in his book Prozac Backlash, 2000:

“In every instance, the stories are remarkably similar: a dramatic, noticeable change occurred in an individual soon after starting the drug.  Phrases like ‘severely anxious and agitated,’ ‘felt like jumping out of her skin,’ and ‘couldn’t sleep, pacing all night’ were recurring themes. The suicide attempts and violence toward others were described as ‘shocking,’ ‘completely out of character.'” (p 138)

Fourthly, psychiatry is indeed creating an epidemic of “mental illness.” In the past forty years, we have seen a truly bewildering array of non-medical human problems arbitrarily and groundlessly converted to “mental illnesses” by the fiat of the APA. Here is a short list:

Fifthly. “Paradoxically, the latter claim contradicts the notion that mental illness doesn’t exist…” This is pure sophistry of the sort that has come to characterize the speeches of politicians, where the scoring of points takes precedence over promoting the truth.  It is disappointing, though perhaps not surprising, to find Dr. Pies stooping to such depths.  The epidemic in question stems from the twin facts that psychiatry routinely creates new “mental illnesses”, (note the quotation marks indicating the spurious nature of the term); and that psychiatric drugs and electric shocks, taken for extended periods, often induce persistent depression and other serious adverse effects.  So, there’s no paradox and no contradiction; just facile and partisan disingenuousness from Dr. Pies and Prof. Ruffalo.

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“The claims of antipsychiatry require careful philosophical investigation, since they have serious consequences for those we treat.”

This is absolutely true.  I wonder if this means that Dr. Pies and Prof. Ruffalo are about to take a serious and honest look at anti-psychiatry’s contentions.  Probably not.

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The authors next focus their attention on “six common claims made by antipsychiatry.” They refer to these claims as “myths.”

Myth #1: Mental illness is not a real disease, because no biological abnormality has ever been consistently demonstrated in supposedly mentally ill persons. The term “mental illness” is thus nothing more than a metaphor.

Dr. Pies and Prof. Ruffalo delve briefly into the history of this “myth,” and then:

“The history of medicine tells us that the presence of an anatomical lesion or physiological abnormality — Szasz’s ‘gold standard’ for identifying disease — is merely one way to identify and conceptualize disease. Indeed, such findings are neither necessary nor sufficient to establish clinically meaningful disease or illness. A person may have an abnormally shaped ear lobe or an unusually high serum albumin level and not be ‘diseased’ or ‘ill’ in any clinically relevant sense. Historically, the concept of ‘disease’ (dis-ease) is intimately linked with some combination of suffering and incapacity

Well this, of course, is the old Piesian chestnut, illness-does-not-require-anatomical-or-physiological-pathology-but-merely-suffering-and-incapacity, which Dr. Pies trots out whenever this issue is broached.

So let’s see if we can cut to the chase. For decades, psychiatry at both leadership and rank and file levels has avidly promoted the notion that depression which crosses arbitrary and subjectively-assessed levels of severity, frequency, duration, and impact is an illness or disease caused by a neurochemical imbalance. Psychiatrists assured, and still assure, their customers and the general public that because of this “chemical imbalance,” depression is a real disease, just like diabetes, and needs to be treated with drugs and high-voltage electric shocks to the brain. Similar claims have been made concerning psychiatry’s other so-called illnesses.

At this point, the debate becomes a little tenuous, because Dr. Pies has repeatedly insisted that psychiatry has never made any such claim. So it’s a bit like trying to discuss the history of the American Civil War with someone who believes that slavery never existed. The fact is that psychiatry did promote the chemical imbalance theory of depression, and routinely extends that same spurious theory to other so-called mental illnesses, e.g., ADHD. For a thorough consideration of psychiatry’s chemical imbalance theory, see Terry Lynch’s book Depression Delusion (2015).

The critical question in all of this is: what do psychiatrists mean when they say that depression is a real illness just like diabetes. Do they mean that depression is caused by an inability of the pancreas to secrete sufficient insulin to process the sugar in the blood?Hardly. Do they mean that depression entails an increased risk of gangrene and amputations? Again, hardly!

No. What psychiatrists mean when they describe depression as “a real illness just like diabetes” is that depression is caused by actual physical pathology: an aberration in the structure or function of the brain. This is the message that psychiatry intended to promote. It is the message that was received by millions of customers worldwide, and by the media, and by government officials. And, most importantly, it is the message that persuaded millions of individuals, who otherwise would not have taken the pills, to do so.

If this were not psychiatry’s intention, why have they not been screaming their true intentions to the very heavens? Why have they allowed the falsehood to stand? Why are they not saying: No. No. That’s not what we meant. We just meant the presence of suffering and incapacity?

In addition, it needs to be stated that if all that psychiatry meant by illness is the presence of suffering and incapacity, the entire issue becomes moot. If psychiatrists are saying to their customers:

You have what we call major depressive disorder by virtue of five out of nine hits on this little checklist that we made up. We consider depression an illness, not because there’s anything actually going wrong with your brain or other organs, which is the normal meaning of the term illness, but simply to reflect, admittedly misleadingly, that the depression is causing you suffering and incapacity.

Then there would be no issue, other than the plain silliness of the thing.

But psychiatrists won’t say that because they need to maintain the falsehood that their various “diagnoses” constitute real illnesses in order to justify the use of drugs and electric shocks which have, by their own choosing, become their only stock-in-trade.

It also needs to be pointed out that, from a purely logical perspective, suffering and incapacity do not constitute an acceptable definition of illness. There are many illnesses that do not entail suffering and incapacity (e.g. early stage cancers) and many activities that do entail suffering and incapacity that are not illnesses (e.g. wearing shoes that are too tight).

The fact of the matter is that psychiatry blatantly, deliberately, and self-servingly misled their customers and the general public on this matter. Since the anti-psychiatry movement exposed the hoax, psychiatrists have been a little more circumspect with regards to the chemical imbalance theory, but they continue to push it.

For instance, here’s what the Mayo Clinic has to say on their website concerning chemical imbalance as a cause of depression:

“Brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that likely play a role in depression. Recent research indicates that changes in the function and effect of these neurotransmitters and how they interact with neurocircuits involved in maintaining mood stability may play a significant role in depression and its treatment.” [Emphasis added]

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Mayo Clinic also has a page on the causes of “mental illness” generally. Here’s the paragraph on brain chemistry:

“Brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that carry signals to other parts of your brain and body. When the neural networks involving these chemicals are impaired, the function of nerve receptors and nerve systems change, leading to depression.” [Emphases added]

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Tufts University, where the very learned Dr. Pies teaches, has this to say about anti-anxiety drugs:

“The brain makes chemicals that affect thoughts, emotions, and actions. Without the right balance of these chemicals, there may be problems with the way you think, feel, or act. People with anxiety may have too little or too much of some of these chemicals. Antianxiety medicines help treat the imbalance of chemicals.” [Emphases added]

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And here’s a quote from SUNY’s School of Public Health website:

“…psychiatrists can order diagnostic tests and prescribe medication to help a patient through depression or mood disorders or correct chemical imbalances that cause some mental illnesses.” [Emphasis added]

Dr. Pies is also on the faculty at SUNY.

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Back to the Pies-Ruffalo article.

“Nor is it accurate to assert that mental illness has not been associated with physiological abnormalities in the brain. On the contrary, there is abundant and growing evidence that serious psychiatric illnesses, like schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder, are associated with specific structural and functional abnormalities in the brain — and that these abnormalities may be seen even in ‘drug-naïve’ (never medicated) patients (Karkal et al., 2018; Ren et al., 2013; Cui et al., 2018; Machado-Vieira et al., 2017).”

So, having belabored the patently spurious assertion that neither physiological malfunctions nor anatomical malformations are necessary for the presence of illness, the authors now cite some research claiming that there is “abundant and growing evidence that serious psychiatric illnesses…are associated with specific structural and functional abnormalities in the brain.” [Emphasis added]

The impression created by this quote is that psychiatry has found its long-sought “holy grail” — the putative, but elusive, physiological/anatomical basis of psychiatric “illness.”  But note the phrase “…associated with…” which occurs twice in the quote, and the word “abnormalities” which also occurs twice. The critical point here is that “associated with” is not equivalent to caused by, and “abnormalities” are not necessarily pathological.

Let’s take a look at the four references in the Pies-Ruffalo quote above.

Karkal et al, 2018, concluded:

“A correlation between sensory gating parameters and measures of psychopathology strengthens the hypothesis that abnormal response to sensory input may contribute to the psychopatholgy in SCZ [schizophrenia].”  [Emphasis added]

Note the cautious wording — strengthens the hypothesis and may contribute  which, I suggest, doesn’t quite rise to the level of the “…abundant and growing evidence…” claimed by Dr. Pies and Prof. Ruffalo.

The second Pies-Ruffalo reference, Ren et al, 2013, was also tentative in its conclusions:

“Findings from the present study, along with future work clarifying the causes of the functional and structural changes reported and their dissociation, may provide new insight into the underlying neuropathology of the early course of schizophrenia.” (Emphasis added)

Note the word “may.”

The third reference, Cui et al 2018, is similarly non-committal:

“The results indicate that aberrant FC [functional connectivity] patterns of insula-centered sensorimotor circuit may account for the pathophysiology of MDD.” [Emphasis added]


“…our findings suggest that disrupted FCs in the insula-centered sensorimotor circuit may play a central role in the pathophysiology of MDD [Major depressive disorder].” [Emphasis added]

Similarly with the fourth reference, Machado-Vieira et al, 2017:

“This is the first report of increased CC lactate in patients with bipolar depression and lower levels after lithium monotherapy for 6 weeks. These findings indicate a shift to anaerobic metabolism and a role for lactate as a state marker during mood episodes. Energy and redox dysfunction may represent key targets for lithium’s therapeutic actions.” [Emphasis added]


“The present findings reinforce that lactate may be a state biomarker in BD and that mitochondrial modulators might offer promising treatment targets in the illness, especially in long-term treatment.” (Emphases added)

It’s difficult to recognize any of these studies as the “abundant and growing evidence” touted in the Pies-Ruffalo paper. And bear in mind that the search for the biological causes of “mental illness” — psychiatry’s holy grail — has been lavishly funded across five or six decades. And the best they’ve come up with are mights and maybes. But they still have the gall to promote the illness hoax as fact, and to castigate those of us who cry foul.

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A detailed look at the other five myths would take us too far afield, but the overall conclusion drawn by Dr. Pies and Prof. Ruffalo is worth examining.

“Psychiatry and the related mental health professions face attacks from a relatively small but influential movement known as ‘antipsychiatry’. While most of what is asserted by antipsychiatry is easily refuted by the scientific evidence, philosophical claims regarding the meaning and nature of mental illness require careful consideration and response. The most harmful of these claims is that mental illness is a ‘myth.’ Such a view is not only at odds with medical reality and everyday human experience, it also leads to the gross undertreatment and harm of the most gravely ill in our society (see Frances & Ruffalo, 2018).”

Let’s open this up:

“Psychiatry and the related mental health professions face attacks from a relatively small but influential movement known as ‘antipsychiatry.'”

The “related mental health professions” cited here presumably embrace social workers, counselors, vocational trainers, case managers, job coaches, psychologists, etc. By using the phrase “psychiatry and the related mental health professions,” Dr. Pies and Prof. Ruffalo are creating the impression that these groups constitute a coherent and united block. This is not the case. Many members of these “related” professions are profoundly unhappy with the destructive biochemical illness dogma which dominates the mental health landscape, but are often reluctant to speak out for fear of incurring censure or even losing their jobs. The assertion that these individuals “face attacks” from antipsychiatry is false. In reality, the existence and growth of the anti-psychiatry movement gives many of these individuals hope that the destructive, disempowering, and stigmatizing psychiatric hoax is being successfully challenged in a wide range of areas and venues.

“…a relatively small but influential movement…”

Perhaps not as small as Dr. Pies and Prof. Ruffalo would like, but definitely influential.

“While most of what is asserted by antipsychiatry is easily refuted by the scientific evidence…”

Then why, I wonder, do the authors not refute it? For instance, the anti-psychiatry movement has successfully debunked the chemical imbalance theory. Dr. Pies’ oft-repeated response to this debunking is that psychiatry never promoted the chemical imbalance theory in the first place, a position that is clearly false. As I have pointed out above, some of the leading psychiatric centers in the US continue to promote the theory in their online brochures and other materials.

I have stated many times in my writings that if psychiatry were to produce definitive proof that the loose groupings of vaguely-defined thoughts, feelings, and behaviors listed in their catalog are indeed illnesses, and that the drugs and shocks constitute safe and effective treatments, I would readily apologize for my errors, quit the field, and turn my attention to other matters. But such proof has never been presented. All that we have heard from psychiatry in this regard are repetitions of their self-serving dogma, a steady stream of unreplicated and contradictory studies, many of which are pharma-funded, promises that the evidence will soon be to hand, and attacks on anti-psychiatry adherents for daring to challenge the destructive, disempowering, and stigmatizing psychiatric orthodoxy.

“The most harmful of these claims is that mental illness is a ‘myth.'”

For the sake of clarity, and with apologies for the repetition, the vast majority of anti-psychiatry writers acknowledge that the thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and behaviors in question are real, but they do not constitute illnesses in any ordinary sense of the word.

“Such a view [that mental illness is a myth] is not only at odds with medical reality…”

Inherent in this contention is the claim that there is some “medical reality” that proves that psychiatry’s labels are bona fide illnesses with the same ontological significance and implications as real illnesses, such as pneumonia, influenza, diabetes, etc. But in fact, no such “medical reality” exists. The various versions of the chemical imbalance theory would, if validated, constitute such a medical reality. But no version of the chemical imbalance theory has ever been validated. Psychiatrists, of course, have been promoting this spurious notion for decades, and it is perhaps understandable that they have come to believe it themselves. But it’s still a hoax.

“Such a view [that mental illness is a myth] is…at odds with…everyday human experience…”

Actually, it’s not. What everyday human experience tells us is that sadness, even extreme sadness, is the normal, and incidentally adaptive, human response to loss and/or abiding adverse circumstances. Sadness becomes persistent and enduring when the individual can find no way out of his/her predicament. The psychiatric claim that sadness which crosses arbitrary thresholds of severity, duration, and impact is “really” the result of a neurological brain illness that needs to be “treated” with drugs and high-voltage electric shocks to the brain is an obvious hoax. But it is a hoax to which psychiatrists cling desperately as the sole justification for their existence as a profession.

“Such a view [that mental illness is a myth]…also leads to the gross undertreatment and harm of the most gravely ill in our society.”

The assertion that the activities of the world-wide anti-psychiatry movement are effectively reducing the amount of psychiatric “treatment” being delivered is very good news indeed. The notion that such reductions are harming people is just another example of the kind of unsubstantiated accusation that psychiatry routinely uses in a futile attempt to deflect attention from the fact that its concepts have been exposed as fraudulent and its practices as destructive, disempowering, and stigmatizing. They malign us because they have no rational response to our criticisms.


Psychiatry is not something good that needs minor adjustments. Rather, it is something fundamentally flawed and rotten. Based on spurious premises, and devoid of even a semblance of critical self-scrutiny, it is utterly and totally irremediable. It has locked itself into the falsehood that every-problem-is-an-illness-and-for-every-illness-there’s-a-drug from which it cannot extricate itself. It is nothing more than legalized drug-pushing, endlessly attempting to mask its guilt by proclaiming its innocence, vilifying its critics, and calling for more “treatment.” It has built into itself the seeds of its own destruction, and will eventually fade away as its credibility dwindles, and more and more potential recruits recognize the sordid reality and seek careers in genuine, ethically-driven medicine.



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


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  1. thanks for this. I’ve sometimes thought that psychiatry will eventually prove its own worst enemy, and it is helpful to see an expert explaining and articulating that…although I do kind of fear that whatever might replace psychiatry will be worse–more punitive, more draconian–than the current mental health industry. I think this is because I live in a more “conservative” part of the US, and I’ve seen how psychiatry and psychiatric labels work in the culture. My concern is that if the (admittedly, dangerous) Myth of Mental Illness dies, people in these areas will be faced with more pain, not less, especially as the safety net has been further shredded and both family and community bonds continue to disintegrate. And yet…

    I still long for the day psychiatry withers away, somehow. Honestly, enough is enough. 🙂

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    • The column here by Dr. Hickey is excellent, though I wish he had given some detail to the various ways that psychiatric “treatment” results in death. Having lost two immediate family members – one to electric shock, the other to profound hyperglycemia – I believe the statistics and details behind the vast numbers and types of deaths are both a compelling and shocking addition to the argument. As to what might replace the “myth of mental illness” should the full truth be known, we seem to be already there, as opioids and street drugs,tobacco, other prescription drug side effects, and corporate food-related deaths escalate in our apparently declining nation.

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  2. The biggest, most obvious problem with psychiatry is that they lock people up and take away their rights. The create dependency, not only on drugs, but on therapy. They create disability with their drugs and “side effects” and also simply by labeling and calling a person “disabled.” Putting a person on disability, effectively ending their careers, will seal this into further permanence. Thus, an “illness” is born. Yes, it is becoming an epidemic. Shouldn’t our growing anger over their gross human rights violations be enough?

    Phil, I want to also ask about psych’s new tactic: Calling us “mental illness deniers.” Aligning us via this terminology with climate change deniers and Holocaust deniers. It sounds like a new disease to me that might show up in the DSM-6.

    They did not expect us to make widespread use of the internet, mainly because they assumed we had no interest or we lacked the capacity to use it. Surprise, surprise! We can now gather, compare stories, and make tactical decisions on how to push our cause. Where to go from here?

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    • Yes Julie, it is not just drugs, it is also the therapy which belittles us and destroys us, and is intended to create a dependency. It denigrates the natural and evolutionarily developed desire to punish perpetrators, seize reparations, and to organize and protect the next generation of would be victims. It both Psychiatry and Psychotherapy are gov’t backed and licensed.

      But we should not be arguing with these people. We should be organizing and deciding what actions we can take, and then taking them.

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  3. As far as I’m concerned, Ronald Pies and Mark Ruffalo, together with many in their field, have created their own bogeyman in the antipsychiatry movement. This movement doesn’t compare with the biological psychiatry movement, what with its pharmaceutical drug fiefdoms and the imperialism of western pseudo-medicine that is engulfing much of the planet at this time.

    I have a little problem with this time line of yours beginning in the middle of the 19th century. Before there were psychiatrists, there were, same thing, mad doctors and alienists. Of course, psychiatrists didn’t start calling themselves psychiatrists until about the middle of the 19th century, or perhaps later, the beginning of the 20th.

    From just before the beginning of the 18th century, moral management was the reform movement that existed until about, let’s see, the middle of the 19th century. Moral management, with doctors making a show of removing shackles from patients, patients that were only technically patients, but actual prisoners, was the thing. You don’t need, really, shackles when you’ve got solitary confinement (padded cells, strait jackets, and that kind of thing.)

    Okay. The problem is this asylum that people are not free to leave. That’s a prison. That isn’t an asylum, and it definitely isn’t a hospital. These prisons for the mad, psychiatric, one might say, prisons, began sometime prior to the first major reform movement (i.e moral management). Moral management actually escalated the proliferation of these psychiatric prisons (then termed lunatic asylums).

    I hope I’ve sort of paved the way here for the 20th and 21st centuries. Psychiatric prisons still exist, and they are making incursions into local communities as well with all sorts of mini-prisons being developed. Odd treatments, spinning chairs, blood-letting, physical beatings, ice baths, etc., have given way to equally if not more dangerous and odd treatments, electrically induced grand mal seizures, the thorazine (or even seraquel) haze, etc., but the quackery continues.

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    • One correction to the above is necessary. Moral treatment begins just prior to the 19th century, not the 18th, and continues onto the middle of that century.

      Imprisoning lunatics began in earnest on a larger scale than say 20 max inmates in Bedlam at the end of the 17th century, and near the beginning of the 18th. The scale of this mass imprisonment was just further escalated, once again, and much further, with the introduction of moral management, or more would-be humane treatment, great selling point for lunatic asylum/psychiatric prisons, towards the dawn of 19th century.

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  4. Professional Outrage of a Well Informed Liar.

    Shrinks make lousy philosophers. Name calling, strawman arguments, and accusing the opposition of wanting to kill you does not a sound argument make. Pies sounds–dare I say it?–downright paranoid. Guilt is making him go Lady MacBeth it seems.

    Where are these death threats or rants? Maybe on the dark net. But certainly not here, nor MadBlogger or AuntiePsychiatry.

    The wicked flee when no man pursueth….

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  5. A doctor who falsely diagnosed patients with cancer to sell them numerous rounds of chemo would disable people. This does NOT prove they had cancer to begin with.

    Nor does destroying people’s brains and other organs with drugs, shocks, lobotomies, etc. prove they had a disease to begin with.

    I guess “doctor” Pies is not used to debating. Petty tyrants who rule with an iron fist have a hard time talking to their serfs as equals and are unaccustomed to making a rational defense of their tyranny.

    It must stink to have to give an account to others when you’re used to playing god. 😛

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    • that’s one thing that -gets to me- , when i see psych “professionals,” especially psychiatrists, defending their industry. as a psychiatrized individual, i know that they have plenty of victims, each and every one of them…and because of “the way the world works,” the victims are effectively silenced, few people (it seems..) would care that much, anyway, if they did somehow get to raise their voices. and…

      i agree with you, that being in a position of authority and control obvioulsy affects how they deal with criticism, even simple questions. as a psychiatrized individual, i only wish the world at large could see the victims, see the fraud and coercion and, at times, even violence that goes on in the world of mental health, inc.

      but…i’ll settle for people simply deciding to do something else with their time and resources, find better ways of dealing with their lives and problems, etc. 🙂

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      • I have had two friends die directly from psychiatric drugs. As prescribed.

        One had seizures from a neuroleptic, hit her head during a grand mal, and died at 29.

        The other had been on a cocktail for years. Suddenly her decline accelerated. She went to a nursing home. Took to bed and all her organs began to shut down. Died at 49.

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  6. Dr. Hickey, thank you for a powerful and effective article. My husband read it with me and found it very enlightening (he’s a long time military member). It is articles like this that keep putting dents in the whole facade of psychiatry until it breaks apart and can no longer destroy lives.

    I was not familiar with the word “vituperation” but it is most fitting for what is directed towards members of the anti-psychiatry movement. It is also a good word for the lies and fabrications psychiatrists will write about people who make the mistake of seeking “help” for distressing life circumstances.

    Re: the bill the late Senator John McCain wanted to see passed, I wonder if his daughter Meghan McCain (who is on the View) would lend her voice or platform on the View to push for this.

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  7. Excellent article. Well done, and thank you Dr. Hickey.

    I hope that by this point it is sufficiently clear that Dr. Hickey is the most articulate and effective author on the Mad in America team. As far as I’m concerned, his articles demonstrate unsurpassed clarity of vision and expression. He has done his homework, and Mad in America would be wise to promote his work more vigorously.

    Dr. Hickey is correct that opposition to psychiatry pre-dates Szasz, even though Szasz was one of the most articulate and effective opponents of psychiatry in his time. More people ought to read the works of Thomas Szasz. More people also ought to read the works of one of the men who inspired Szasz and who also saw through the deceptions of psychiatry, namely Karl Kraus. In fact, Thomas Szasz wrote an excellent book entitled “Anti-Freud: Karl Kraus’s Criticism of Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry.” I commend it to your attention.

    What Kraus, Szasz, and now Dr. Hickey reveal is that psychiatry has been rotten since its inception. It is, as I have frequently written, a pseudo-scientific system of slavery that masquerades as a medical profession. Let me echo Dr. Hickey’s powerful concluding statement: “Psychiatry is not something good that needs minor adjustments. Rather, it is something fundamentally flawed and rotten. Based on spurious premises, and devoid of even a semblance of critical self-scrutiny, it is utterly and totally irremediable.” Amen.

    This. Is. The. Truth. About. Psychiatry. The truth will prevail. For those who would like to expand and deepen their understanding of the true history of psychiatry, I also recommend the following resource:

    – Slay the Dragon of Psychiatry

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  8. We must reject Mental Illness and Psychiatry, but also Psychotherapy and the concept of Recovery.

    Get the survivors to write detail transcripts. With that, I am convinced that we could take any of these practitioners down in court.

    It is only because the clients are getting too severely harmed to make such detailed transcripts, that the abuses continue.

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      • Good points Dragon Slayer.

        Right now there can be no legal justice since shrinks are breaking no laws when they cripple, defame, and kill. Changing the laws by discrediting psychiatry as a legitimate medical branch is essential.

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          • In earlier days they used to do so and even laughed at psychiatrists as wannabe “doctors”. You don’t hear that sort of thing these days because they’ve embraced psychiatrists as sisters and brothers. Of course, medicine in general these days has huge problems that need to be exposed and discussed.

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          • Wow, good point, Stephen. I was a patient back in the days when psychiatry and even therapy was considered dubious, far out, and wacko. Hardly anyone engaged in their “services” and I don’t recall most of us buying into their false logic. I did not. My decision to try therapy (for an eating disorder) was pretty much due to peer pressure from an employer I had worked for. Interestingly, he was one of the most self-absorbed people I had ever met. Back in the late 1970s, this mentality was frowned upon. I was brought up told that it was something you avoided. I remember feeling very guilty if ever I came close. At the time, I was truly disgusted with the employer, although I kept that to myself. I decided to “try” therapy, thinking I’d only do it for the summer. I got sucked right in. Therapy was extremely addicting. I was in the system over a year before I took drugs…and believe it or not, I begged for them.

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      • You pauperize the perpetrators. That does not undo what was done, but it might help. Mostly it discredits the perpetrators.

        Once people see that they have to fight back, instead of just submitting to therapy, recovery, and getting saved, then laws can be changed and survivors can be vindicated.

        Today people are starting to sue Psychotherapists for “Transference Abuse”.

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        • I agree. Many therapists do transfer whatever is going on with them. I remember some of the therapists said they had abusive parents. Sure enough, they imposed this on their patients regularly. Interestingly, they imposed whatever type of abuse they themselves had been through. For some of us, this created false memories and split up families.

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  9. This is the best summary of the evidence and arguments against biopsychiatry I’ve ever seen. Give a psychiatrist Whitaker’s books, and they can claim they have no time to read books. With this article, there is no excuse.

    If defenders of psychiatry are unable or unwilling to write a rebuttal with evidence and unfallacious arguments to this article, that in itself should be enough to discredit them.

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  10. WOW. Great to see Phil writing on MIA again. As usual with Phil there’s so much here that I may not get to much of it in time. Phil is an AP hero, let me say from the start, and has demonstrated beyond all question that he is an ally of anti-psychiatry survivors and the AP movement in general.

    That said, I’m not necessarily in lockstep with everything here as I read this (I haven’t finished yet). For example:

    What is generally opposed by those of us in the anti-psychiatry movement is the bio-bio-bio travesty

    I don’t think this is necessarily true, not for me anyway. I would be opposed to anything called psychiatry, primarily on the basis that if it requires a medical degree it considers itself a medical field — which demands the existence of a pathology, otherwise medical training would be seen as irrelevant. And we know this is not the case.

    If we understand that the primary purpose of psychiatry has always been social control in the guise of “healing,” we can see that, while the varieties of deception have morphed to accommodate the prevailing beliefs of the times, this basic function has remained consistent. So whether the so-called “madness” has been ascribed to “humors” or “oedipal complexes,” the psychiatrist has always been a medical doctor. This is of course not because of any special understanding or insight but because the authoritarian, paternal presence of a “doctor” is necessary to maintain the pretense of a medical process. This is the myth which has to be dispelled.

    I continue to reject the notion of “biological psychiatry” as different than the “same old” psychiatry, as this implies there is (or could be) some other kind of psychiatry that’s “better,” or that we should “return to.” But today’s psychiatry is no different at its core than it ever has been, and has been “biological” since the captives on the “ships of fools”; I’m glad to see that Phil sees this.

    Still, the talk of “bio-bio-bio” carries with it the dangerous notion that if psychiatry went back to psychoanalytically-based theories it would be “better.” Again, such a belief ignores the true purpose of psychiatry as a parallel police force, and perpetuates the myth that its purpose is to “help people” and just doesn’t understand how to do so properly (a convenient naivete which has liberal survivors constantly engaging in self-criticism for not having “explained” things well enough).

    In the end it doesn’t matter what rationalization psychiatry uses for its existence; we need to see through them all. Even more important is to realize that the act of focusing on the individual victim of the system is a strategy to keep people focused on themselves rather than the sources of their suffering, which must be addressed by political action, not by trying to change our reactions to an objectively oppressive power structure which does not address human needs except as inconveniences that cut into profits.

    OK — that covers the first few paragraphs. I’ll see where Phil is going with this.

    (BTW anti-psychiatry needs no “defense.” It simply needs to be explained more consistently and coherently.)

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    • Two issues are present really, the first involving deprivation of liberty, and violation of human rights, and the second, harmful physical treatments, rationalized by would-be medicine, with biology seen as the basis for ‘problems in living’.

      Between talk therapy and drug therapy, they’re both quackery, but drug therapy unlike talk therapy will kill and maim you. I can’t, in other words, completely agree that all treatments are equal, and that there can’t be a better way. There are certainly other reasons for treatment than the ones usually given, combined, in some instances, with much deception, and this ulterior motivation involves something besides actual health, the stated reason for such treatment programs.

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      • Frank, therapy can indeed kill you. Indirectly. Psychiatry also kills indirectly, because the psychiatrist doesn’t actually take a gun out and shoot the patient. Patients die from treatment ordered/prescribed by psychiatrists. The treatment is self-administered by a patient through lies and coercion, or administered by a nurse.

        Therapy also kills. I know, because I have been subject to therapy in a very harmful way. Imagine having this person who is supposedly an authority figure telling you you’re addicted to water, that you deserve to be in a state institution, that you are psychotic and invented hospital abuse, that you are a sneaky liar, that everything that happened to you you brought upon yourself. All of these repeated to me twice a week for over a year. Not only that, I was repeatedly threatened that if I didn’t obey and lost as little as a half pound, I’d be hospitalized. It was degrading and humiliating to live under these conditions, living in terror of the next police visit. Because of Maria, I really did almost kill myself. That was 2012. I am lucky I did not, and lucky I didn’t tell anyone. You have to recover from an abusive therapist. I had no one to tell, no one to talk to, and whenever I tried telling people they refused to believe it was that bad, but it was. I had to get over it on my own, which I did by blogging about it until the impact of the story had softened some.

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        • I was juxtaposing talk therapy with drug therapy, Julie. My point being, a. all therapies are not equal, and 2. drug therapy can, while talk therapy can’t, directly kill you.

          Death by one’s own hand I would not consider a direct consequence of, but rather a personal decision.

          I’m not saying that some of what passes for therapy is not actually torture, or some form of intimidation. That kind of thing happens. It shouldn’t, perhaps, but it does, and the people behind it have their own ways of rationalizing it.

          I’m not saying there isn’t a lot of lying and deception taking place in the “mental health” field, and that people aren’t victimized by such deceit. I’m just saying drugs will kill you, and talk won’t kill you. I’m also saying that every person who engages in the therapy trade is not a lying, manipulating, torturing SOB. That’s all.

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          • The solution to abusive counselors is simple. Allow the person being counseled to fire them at any time without having to give a reason.

            IN THEORY we could do this at the Mental Illness Centers I attended. But in actuality this was discouraged or even punished in the underhanded ways centers have.

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          • Sure, treat counselors like any other operator of a service business, and protect people from them by law, rather than the other way around, that is, don’t protect counselors from being prosecuted by law for crimes committed against people engaging their services. I am assuming that people here know the difference between a service and a disservice.

            A related matter concerns hospitals that are actually prisons. Locked wards and forced treatment by hospitals should not be tolerated. Hospitals must remain places of healing, and they must not become places of detention. Where they have crossed that line, they must be shut down and abandoned.

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          • If I person with a diagnosis breaks the law in a very minor way, such as breaking and entering, they might do jail time. If a therapist abuses he gets a slap on the wrist and keeps practicing, or is never caught at all because most of us patients can’t get attorneys.

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          • Furthermore, verbal abuse causes trauma more easily than physical abuse. Words can’t directly kill you, but they can wreck you self-esteem, cause depression and other problems. Verbal abuse can wreck your life. I know. I have been there.

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          • I think one of the most abusive things that psych does is to put people out of work. Once we are out of the workforce, they can pretty much do anything. Schedule multiple appointments, even day programs. People who are put out of work are not likely to be able to return. We have no work history to fall back on. I am lucky I got employed and now, I have enough work history so that I do not arouse suspicion. Trying to get a mortgage, though, they asked for tax returns going back a few years. Telling them I was out of the country did not work. Because my work has been independent contractor they said I had to have a solid work history for two years. I found out about a mortgage opportunity that I likely qualify for. However, I decided to hold off anyway. I want to have the option to move anytime I want.

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      • Frank, I agree that the reasons for “treatment” are more than what they public realizes. It is a historical fact that whistleblowers and other antiauthoritarians are subject to wrongful incarceration, including being locked up in a nuthouse. If the authorities want to silence someone they’ll do whichever one they can get away with.

        You can hire a doctor and pay that doctor to deem a person nuts or demented. It’s been done. It is regularly done to elderly.

        I’m sure there are political adversaries they’d like to directly kill if they could. They can’t because they’ll get caught. They have clever alternatives: Drive the person crazy by verbal abuse till they off themselves, claim the person is psychotic, thereby wrecking their credibility, or by drugging and/or incarcerating.

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    • Maybe people are intimidated by Phil’s irrefutable logic?

      I have not yet begun to comment! Busy & slightly overwhelmed with things to do. Haven’t gotten past the first section actually as this is not something that one can skim.

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        • We can always use some fine tuning — if someone had it totally right psychiatry would be gone, right?

          A key issue to be sorted out is exactly what IS psychiatry? Is it A) A rogue or “failed” branch of medicine meant to help people or B) A parallel police force assigned to control and repress people? Obviously one’s tactics and approach would be different depending on which of these circumstances is deemed accurate. However the solutions that people propose are often oblivious to the need to define the enemy before a successful strategy to defeat it can be formulated.

          So I think this needs to be considered and discussed more frequently and thoroughly.

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          • Dragon slayer, you’re not alone. I remember, for example, I tried to get the Foundation for Excellence to help me publicize my anthology. They flat out refused. I will never forget that. They said that I had no expertise to be doing the project. Is an MFA in creative writing not enough to edit a collection of writings? Since when is a MH professional more qualified? They actually aren’t. Wow, I was so furious that I refuse to read their newsletters. By the way, the project failed due to lack of submissions. The Foundation for Excellence is not the only organization that refused to help publicize. I need to cry over that. Yet one more project I was not able to get off the ground because honestly, I hate selling anything.

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  11. I’ve had that thought as well… If psychiatry doesn’t exist, does the thing that replaces it serve a purely punitive/social control function? At least there would be more honesty in that approach.
    Whenever psychiatrists make that argument, “for anyone to say mental illness is a myth is dangerous”… because whoever says it is somehow going to prevent people from accessing help? The argument that mental health is a myth is in no way arguing that people don’t need help sometimes. I’m sure there’s another logical fallacy at play here, on their part.

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    • Saying “mental illness” is a myth IS dangerous. To psychiatrists.

      No absolute monarch likes being deposed. Plus–once the truth comes out–a lot of people will be very angry at the liars who stole away health, earning potential, and killed people. (Not counting suicide. Psychiatric drugs KILL.)

      Remember how angry people were at Dr. Farid Fata?

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    • If psychiatry doesn’t exist, does the thing that replaces it serve a purely punitive/social control function?

      Why in the world would you want to replace it??? Did slavery abolitionists ask “what are we going to replace it with”?

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      • Let me play devil’s advocate OH.

        Would the anti-psychiatry folks like those who are severely out of it (“mentally ill”) wandering around homeless muttering to themselves? Unable to meet their basic needs? Even–in rare instances–pushing people in the paths of oncoming subways? (There was talk of this happening in NYC.)

        Would they like folks so unhappy they can’t–or believe they can’t–get out of bed not be able to talk to anyone or get over their overwhelming sadness?

        Anti-psychiatry people need to be able to answer questions like this. Rest assured people will ask them.

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        • Don’t know why you feel compelled to embrace all these stereotypes instead of identifying them and dispelling them (you forgot the one about the guy running down the street naked in the snow).

          There are no unanswerable questions. But it helps to get people first asking intelligent and pertinent questions. For example, what would you say to someone who demanded to know why the moon is made out of green cheese? Couldn’t it really be blue cheese that just looks green?

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          • I’m NOT embracing stereotypes. But I have known mothers beside themselves because their “kids” of 17 or 18 lose touch with reality and talk to people who aren’t there.

            You would maybe tell her to wait it out till the kid snaps out of it. But if his/her bizarre behaviors keep everyone up all night and those around her urge her to get “help” saying he will never get better otherwise, what do you think the stressed out, sleep deprived woman will choose?

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        • “Would the anti-psychiatry folks like those who are severely out of it (“mentally ill”) wandering around homeless muttering to themselves?” Psychiatry pathologizes emotional suffering and other natural “problems with living”; it worsens natural problems with living by defining them as diseases. Challenging this erroneous narrative will reduce community problems with living and promote assistance to the most needy in the community.

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          • Thanks Steve.

            A lot of homeless people wind up that way BECAUSE of psychiatry. They can’t find employment due to work gaps from “treatments” and the drugs causing real disability. And their friends/family want nothing to do with them thanks to the label or are so emotionally abusive they prefer the streets.

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        • Well Rachel777, as it is where I live, they are building the homeless very very small housing. It does not meet building codes, especially with the bathroom and kitchen areas. Way too small for fixed location buildings.

          Some have even been made by dividing 8′ x 40′ steel shipping containers into two units, and then stacking them up

          Any time they do this, sub code housing, they are opening the doors to internment camps, creating the idea that homelessness is a character disorder, or a medical problem, to be solved via technology.

          They are doing this anytime they try to put the homeless into housing which they could not legally rent to other people.

          If anybody except local gov’t was building this, they would be fined, ordered to tear it down, and then if they did not tear it down, they would be billed for the cost of it being torn down.

          And then on top of that they always have 24/7 mental health services on site. These are intended to funnel the homeless into the mental health system. This of course is most strongly supported by the Real Estate Lobby, who make their profits by gentrification.

          They are trying to establish the premise that poverty and homelessness are mental health issues.

          Peter Breggin, drawing from Foucault, explains that this was the original purpose of psychiatry, to make a justification for incarcerating people who are breaking no law, but are panhandling and otherwise seen as a nuisance.

          Sure, there are homeless people about in most American cities. Police run them out of the suburbs.

          You may think they are acting in a way which shows that they are mentally ill and need to be kept on lethal psychiatric narcotics and be subjected to talk therapy.

          Thomas Szasz has written that he has never met a diagnosed crazy person such that if he had had to live through what they had to, that he would not be just like them.

          We have laws about all manner of things, like property and disorderly conduct. But what we lack is a universal basic income and universal housing, and other social supports to protect children and adults. And we lack political militancy from survivors to redress this. All still in therapy, recovery, and busy Getting Saved.

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          • I agree, PD, because public housing is a ghetto. For a few, it’s a relief but then you realize that you are segregated from “proper folks.” I hated the segregation and I hated the reaction I got from people, “You live THERE?” I hated that so much.

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          • You might wonder why they don’t give us an extra $300 a month to rent an apartment. It would save the bureaucracy money. But it’s really all about segregating the “crazies” from the “normals” just like doing all they can to prevent us from becoming gainfully employed. The Vocational Rehab is a crock of bull. Their real job is to keep you from getting “uppity.” They told me I was “delusional” for wanting to work for the local newspaper even though I had a BA in English and writing experience.

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        • Pleasant speculation — I guess we’ll see when we get there. When people start seeing their supposedly “personal” problems as simply their share of our collective problems the whole perspective should change. Though when people see how they’ve been deceived for so long there could be a problem of helping direct their justifiable rage into intelligent and organized forms of resistance.

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          • Oldhead, I think there will be a bootleg psychiatry. People practicing it illegally. (Not that a lot of shrinks don’t already do that.) Shrinks will practice under the table, diagnosing minorities, immigrants, and Muslims. What a great way to spread hatred. Drug ’em, lock ’em up. Even though it will no longer be legal, shrinks will practice because people will still be interested in having those they hate put away.

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          • Much forced psychiatry is only technically legal anyway, and the technicality that it’s got is called mental health law, that loophole in the law that allows psychiatric assault to occur, which in many regards goes against constitutional law, or law as it applies to those of us who are not deemed sub-human, or an established under-class.

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          • Hit rewind, and go backwards in time. There is a chart in an article on The History of Mental Health Treatment.


            Under Chemical Interventions. It shows the numbers of mental patient in England and Wales over the years in the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1850, you had 7,000 patients. In 1930, the number was up to 120,000 patients. In 1954, there were 150,000 patients. Okay, you keep going back in time, and that number is going to be much, much less than even the 7,000 we started with.

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          • Oldhead, I agree with you.

            This is a good time to try and make a point which I think is critical.

            RW’s books are outstanding. He totally destroys the idea that there is any legitimacy to Psychiatric Drugs. And if you want to prove a narrow point, this is the way to do it.

            But about other issues, like Psychotherapy and Recovery, he says nothing. This must be deliberate. He focuses on the point he wants to make.

            Okay, but if you are to deal with the lives of real people, then you have to deal with the other things which shape their lives.

            And then on a forum like this, Psychiatry, Prescription Drugs, Prescription Drug Research, and Street Drugs are all getting advertised from time to time.

            And then even more so, Psychotherapy and Recovery are getting advertised continually.

            If one is going to build a coalition and take effective action, it has to be decided what the focus and official positions are to be, but there will likely need to be an even larger area which though not be campaigned against, there are strong prohibitions against ever endorsing it.

            So if the central focus was eliminating psych drugs, I would say that there still must never be any endorsement of street drugs, psychotherapy, recovery, life coaching, motivationalism, or religion.

            I would suggest that the central focus, the object of the activism, should be the elimination of psych drugs and lobotomy, electro shock, insulin shock, and any forced procedures. And then also on the elimination of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, or any other kind of counseling licenses.

            Then their must be no support for alcohol, street drugs, life coaching, motivationalism, or religion.

            It’s not that everyone has to agree in principle, its just that nothing will work unless there are some rules people will agree to follow.

            Planned Parenthood people do not go around endorsing genetic engineering.

            NARAL people do not go around endorsing eugenics.

            But Mind Freedom people do endorse the ideas of Psychotherapy and Recovery, which is why I have nothing whatsoever to do with them.

            See my point?

            And to Julie’s comment that their would be black market Psychiatry, well, drugs, insulin or electro shock, lobotomy and forced treatment would be outlawed. So such black marketers could enjoy their time in prison. But as for talk therapy, that is impractical and undesirable to outlaw. All that would change is our government would be prohibited from licensing it. In my opinion that would neutralize most of its negative aspects. Lots of people doing Philosophical Counseling, Spiritual Counseling, Fortune Telling, etc. Relatively harmless because there is no gov’t licensing.

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          • Phil, I totally agree. If we get rid of psychiatry, we won’t be calling depression or any other problem a disease. We will know that these are not diseases at all, but meanwhile, we will validate people’s suffering even more since it’s not a disease they can use as an excuse. It IS suffering, for many people. It’s not permanent and the “effects” of drugs doesn’t prove that there was at any time, a “chemical imbalance.” This is backwards logic for sure.

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      • When I posed the question, what would replace psychiatry, I was thinking of my own life, my own perspective, which honestly is the only perspective I have. I’m not going to pretend to be capable of seeing this from other points of view. I was wondering, since so many times in the past when I had been suicidal and let anyone know it or had made an attempt or what have you, the police came and the police took me to the hospital. I didn’t have a voice in the matter. The police didn’t ask, “do you think it might help you to go to the hospital?”. they took me to the hospital because that is the law, that is their protocol, etcetera. So I was wondering, simply from a hypothetical standpoint, what would happen if say in the future psychiatry doesn’t exist. There are no psychiatrists and no mental hospitals. So again very hypothetically, let’s say a person makes some sort of suicidal gesture in public. Let’s say again hypothetically, this suicidal gesture does not involve endangering any other person. Do the police get called and if so what do they do with the person? Will the person be viewed as having committed a crime?
        that’s really what was on my mind when I asked that question and maybe I should have been more specific but these things are difficult to talk about.

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          • Thank you, Rachel.
            I was being hypothetical but maybe should have worded my question differently or used another example, as my next comment had to await moderation. I am and have been feeling low but not suicidal and appreciate the kind words.
            To use a different example, my eldest brother Michael, who is now deceased, begin to have psychotic episodes in his teens. At one point he was walking around in some kind of warehouse store, whatever the precursor to Costco and BJ’s was. He was walking the aisles for a long time and I guess it made people uncomfortable so someone called the police. A policeman walked up to my brother in the store and asked to talk to him and my brother punch the policemen in the face. My brother was taken to a hospital, where the treatment he received was harmful to him. In a world without psychiatry, would he have been taken to jail? In an ideal world I suppose the police would not have been called as my brother was not doing anything other than wandering around the aisles in the store. I guess in an ideal world there would be a safety net that is not psychiatry and has nothing to do with psychiatry, or any type of force or coercion.

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          • Yes, wandering down aisles and talking to yourself or other “odd” behaviors are perfectly legal. Psychiatrists like Torrey and “concerned” PR guys like Jaffe are responsible for the irrational fear of harmless eccentrics.

            Ideally a friend or family member would have talked to your brother. Likely he would have found them less intimidating than a police officer.

            EVEN if he had reacted aggressively they would have realized he was beside himself and not pressed charges.

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          • That is a great question, KateL. If your brother was wandering around in a store and psychosis wasn’t considered a disease, then my guess is they would not have called the cops. He wasn’t doing anything illegal and I’m sure he felt very threatened by the presence of the cops. I would, too, if a cop approached me and I wasn’t a crook. Hmm…if I was a crook, I’d also feel rather nervous.

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        • Kate, I think I understand what you mean… if someone is suicidal and tells someone else, that person usually calls 911 or the police to take you to the hospital to get admitted to the psych ward. But if there is no more psychiatry where does a suicidal person go for urgent help and who can the other person call in such an emergency. If that is what you are thinking about I hope if/when psychiatry collapses there would be safe places set up, similar to the Safe Houses (for women trying to escape an abusive situation at home) that people could go to and stay awhile, and have caring, kind people talk with them, calm them down and give them some hope again to improve their situation in life. (like the Safe Houses do for battered women)

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          • Rosalee,

            I think that’s a good answer. At present, psychiatry has a stifling effect on these kinds of creative ideas. Psychiatry says: Send them to us – we’ll take care of them. And society shrugs, and says OK. Take psychiatry out of the picture, and we’ll find that there are other non-medical ways to help people.

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          • It is comforting to some people that they can just send the person to a mental health professional and use that as an excuse not to talk to that person. Been through it myself, when people said to me, “That’s for the therapist’s office. Why don’t you talk to her?” Thing was, I really did not have anyone to talk to back then and the therapy was abusive.

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        • I think it is an excellent and important question. It is the kind of question that gets people tied up in knots when someone suggests eliminating psychiatry altogether. While they don’t understand that psychiatric practice appears to actually increase the suicide rate, people will want to know where they can go for help if there is no doctor/psychiatrist/hospital to go to. I’m not sure I have a great answer yet.

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        • Behavior is the issue. No one has the right to harm others other than in self-defense, and defense of its citizens is society’s duty. This has nothing to do with psychiatry, and little to do with the reasoning of the aggressor.

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          • Steve mentioned “Soteria House ”

            But that was still based on the concepts of therapy and recovery, not on political activism, punishing perpetrators, seizing reparations, and protecting the next generation.

            So it was still putting the prob…

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          • ( got cut off on my above comment )

            Things like Soteria House are in my firm conviction, wrong headed today. They deny survivors the chance of gaining a public identity, a legitimated biography. Still based on the concepts of therapy and recovery, not on vindication.

            “So Joe, what did you spend the last 20 years doing?”

            “I was in therapy and recovery.”

            “Therapy and recovery, for what?”

            “For the imaginary illness of schizophrenia and the drugs used to treat it.”

            Sorry, but I think that is still an abusive situation to put someone into.

            How about,

            “I was fighting on the barricades of revolution, punishing perpetrators, extracting reparations payments, and organizing so that the next generation is protected”.

            Soteria House may have sounded nice in its day. But I think it was not being seen just how much these are all political issues, tied to the idea of creating an underclass of the delegitimated.

            So the only remedy then is political activism.

            Part of the thing is just that industrial technology has advanced so far that there is no reason that anyone should ever have to be materially poor.

            But to prevent a utopia from unfolding, they have to continually create an underclass, and they have to justify this. And so in my opinion, Therapy and Recovery are not solutions, they are additional levels of violation and abuse.

            I also feel that this is the sort of thing which Foucault was calling BioPolitics or BioPower. People are so subjugated and domesticated that they would never do anything seriously wrong. So they are no longer punished by execution. Rather, they are punished by being made to go on living. And the gov’t with holds from them the ability to die.

            I mean isn’t that what it is, someone gets lured into therapy and recovery, and they are just then waiting to be allowed to die?

            Biopower, Biopolitics

            Whereas someone who rejects Therapy and Recovery, and instead commits to political activism, they are actually building new life, for themselves, for comrades, and for the next generation which is being protected from things like Therapy and Recovery.

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          • Old head, sometimes a society is set up to abuse and oppress one group of people. In such cases it can get to the point where it cannot be resolved via the ballot box or the court house.

            Abolitionists did stay within the law. But then the law was manipulated via the cumulative benefits of 3/5’s. And then the Fugitive Slave Act, and then Dred Scott.

            So as David Blight explains, the Abolitionist Movement was effective because it went “extra legal”.


            Free Black men were so angered by Harriet Beecher Stowe, a Presbyterian Seminary teacher, that they spoke before the Legislature of Massachusetts. They would not even speak the name of her protagonist, but they did referee to him in derision. They felt that if they did not do something, then even in heaven, they would be relegated to the Color Pew.

            So when denied the chance to serve in the state militia, they bought their own uniforms and started drilling and training themselves.

            They knew that they could not allow themselves to be portrayed as people seeking leniency and approval.

            And today, isn’t this just what Therapy and Recovery are, seeking leniency and approval?

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        • Can we even imagine a world society where people are allowed and encouraged to enjoy life and at least find it interesting and creative–challenges and all–and not get to the point where they are considering not living any longer out of despair? What would it take to create a planet where people can live and create freely, as per their desires, without fear and sabotage? Can society ever be this free of relentlessly oppressive forces, so that everyone can feel their fair share of joy, and there would be no reason to consider ending one’s own life? I do wonder if this is at all attainable.

          Of course that would mean that every person on the planet would have their basic needs met, like food and other types of nourishment necessary for humans to thrive in well-being. If it can in any way be imagined, then at least there is hope.

          I’m sure many would call this a Utopian fantasy. But if it were to be possible, then none of this would be necessary. And what would mostly be obsolete would be psychiatry and its ilk, for starters.

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          • Alex wrote, “Of course that would mean that every person on the planet would have their basic needs met, like food and other types of nourishment necessary for humans to thrive in well-being. If it can in any way be imagined, then at least there is hope. ”

            I agree.

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          • Julie, I’m sure you are speaking for all “starving artists,” and I agree, of course, the arts are vital to the world and have enormous value to humanity. And, it takes great courage and vulnerability to share our art with the world, although a true artist is not terribly concerned with this. For a real artist, creating is compulsive, it is our nature and how we feel alive. I feel stagnant when I am not creating.

            Still, why not be able to thrive financially from it? Many do, and hold extreme wealth thanks to their art. I guess people would have to find our art to have value and put their money where their mouth is. What else?

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          • Related to both PacificDawn’s and Julie’s posts, combined, re feeding the world and creating:

            Had I all the money in the world, I’d cook for everybody in the world. Not kidding about that, I’d love that job. I’ve been cooking for 40 years, one of my favorite creative endeavors, and one of my favorite ways to share light & love is to feed people. Makes me so happy to watch others enjoy and be nourished by my cooking, as many have, including my partner who considers himeself very lucky that he married someone who LOVES to create in the kitchen.

            I also love playing the piano, same kind of channeling feeling. I can pick out tunes for hours–standards, pop, all kinds of things. I’m in the zone when I do this.

            So were I to have the funds, I’d open a community kitchen and piano juice and tapas bar for all to enjoy, come and be nourished and relax and have some fun. How’s that for starters?

            It would need to be paid for, somehow, and would need an ongoing list of donors, and ongoing food donations from willing contibutors, but I’d certainly do the hands on work and creating! With helpers, of course–and other creators who want to contribute, from all of the creative arts, integrate all of it. It would be a blast! And a labor of love, and I can’t think of anything more communal that would bring joy, which we so badly need in the world. That would be in response to my original comment on this thread.

            So, anyone interested in co-creating something like this, including of course anyone with spare funds to invest in something useful to the world, which is nourishing and healing and giving and creating, talk to me. As is quite evident around here, I’m an open book.

            (I am aware that I’m walking the edge as far as posting guidelines, but I am justifying this because I feel this kind of endeavor is one of the most powerful weapons against psychiatry, in that it brings people joy so who needs drugs? I’d like to co-create an example of community uplifting, giving back, and positive social creation and manifestation. We have to create it ourselves, it won’t just appear. The more of these kinds of options in the community, the more opportunities people have to enjoy life and not feel such despair and isolation, not to mention, hunger! That’s the goal, like I said, to provide global nourishment. That would make psychiatry obsolete, eventually, to my mind, and other dishonest charlatan so-called “healers”–and a;; others on the whole–who blatantly exploit society’s most vulnerable people for their own personal gain. Feeling joy is personally empowering and socially healing, no doubt about that).

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          • Alex, it is not a utopian fantasy. It is what would be real today, if there were not devices being employed to prevent it. It comes down to neo-liberal capitalism and the middle-class family.

            And then Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Recovery are but some of the mechanisms used to back it up.

            Throughout all human history, oppressed groups have organized and fought to gain their emancipation. But they always knew full well that if they failed, the would probably by punished by execution.

            Well today, so many new technologies of subjugation have been found that the oppressed would rather submit, in the hope that they will eventually be granted permission to die.

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          • PD, I fought like hell for years and years to free myself from all that and I’ll support anyone with that goal in mind, but I cannot fight others’ battles for them, the way no one could fight mine for me. Emancipation happens when we ascend our own obstacles. Support is great but we each have to do our own work.

            For me, moving forward means creating, as I describe above. I’m open to all things creative that will help uplift and nourish humanity out of the pits. That would be my contribution at this point in time. Obstacles don’t intimidate me; they simply make me more determined.

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          • Alex, a person needs to have enough money to live on. For a while, I did not. I couldn’t afford a place that was habitable. This meant living with unbearable neighbor noise, rats, a flood, mold, and a landlord that threatened me, cut off my electricity and threatened to cut the water, too. That is what happens when you do not have enough money to live on.

            Artists generally do not get paid enough to live on, either. I faced this as a kid. How would I support myself in a male-dominated field of music composition? I was so scared I was going to be doomed to waitressing. At my last job waitressing I had been sexually assaulted. Was all work like that? I didn’t know. That fear was one of the things that drove me into the mental health system.

            Now if I could have found a way to get paid as a composer, I would not have had anything to fear. There was no way that I knew of, not at the time.

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          • Julie, obviously everybody needs basic survival skills in life, and needing money to live is a fact of life right now. Not sure what your point would be in reiterating that artists need to make a living, too. Indeed, they/we do.

            One thing we can create is a path to money. Somehow, someway, and hopefully, with integrity. That would be nice, for a change.

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        • KateL, remember, as Laing saw, most of the times so called mental illness was a product of the patients interaction with family members. Not to be too accusatory, but take such interactions away and the illness vanished.

          What would take the place of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Recovery, Motivationalism, and Salvation Religion is always political activism, fighting shoulder to shoulder with comrades on the barricades.

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    • I think people are thinking they don’t want integration. Psychiatry is a great segregator. People love that we’re contained in “hospitals,” “programs,” and “homes.” They love that we’re excluded from the workplace and that we don’t have money, which disempowers us. They want to keep us as useless waste, as they see it. Why? Because then those who aren’t crazy can gain power, gain money, and no one’s going to complain. This is what is partially behind the argument that something has to replace psychiatry…because people can’t stand the idea of us living among them.

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      • I actually think there is another factor – I think people often become worried that THEY are the “crazy ones” and are happy to find someone else to be labeled “crazy” so they can feel more “normal.” I think most people suffer confusion, anxiety, depression about our current society and the fragmented and often conflicting and competitive roles they have to play to survive, from grades in school right up through competition for jobs and wages. They seek some sort of order that they can hang onto, including looking for someone “below” them in the social order so they can feel like, “At least I’m not as messed up as THOSE people!” Psychiatry is happy to take on that role so that this kind of “othering” has the backing of the “authorities.”

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        • Ye Olde Scapegoat!

          It enhances the self esteem of the “undiagnosed” by tearing a minority down. Similar to how racism “works” for non minorities.

          Ever read “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson? *Spoiler.* Readers wondered why the people of the nameless community want to kill a random person. Sacrifice to some corn god? Literal witch hunt? My guess is the town needs someone to pick on every year. And–until she “wins” the draw–the woman stoned thought it was okay too.

          Psychiatry is our real Lottery. It defines our nation more than Power Ball.

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          • The original “scape-goat” came out of the Israelite experience. On a particular day a goat was chosen and everyone in the community went by the goat and touched it. What they believed that they were doing was transferring their sins from themselves onto the goat. The goat was then driven off into the desert wastes to die, or whatever. In doing this the early Israelites believed that Yahweh would punish the poor goat and not them for the sinful things that they’d done during the past year.

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          • “The Lottery” is one of the most shocking and disturbing things that I’ve ever read. I hope that you’re writing so that you can eventually publish because you’ve got such a broad knowledge and understanding of so many areas.

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        • Wow, Steve, Rachel and Julie, the cynicism is pretty thick here. I’m truly sorry if that’s the only kind of people you know. Maybe that’s why I’ll always be an outsider on this site, but, there are actually families out there who protect and care for their own. But when things get going extreme in a loved one, it is a little scary, overwhelming and/or bewildering.

          The following things never got covered in my “Being a Good Husband: 101 class” like my wife falling multiple times down the stairs, nearly breaking multiple limbs and being black and blue from head to toe for the first few years because the littles who joined us didn’t know how to use ‘the body’ very well; hiding in stores for fun or because various ones were terrified, almost getting run down by cars or trying to jump out of a car moving at 70mph (multiple times), going comatose (multiple, multiple times), looking like she was experiencing some kind of seizures, feeling like I was in an exorcist movie the first time I met one of the most angry girls, going comatose in a standing position so that I had to lunge to catch her before she hit the floor (for more than a year), and these were just A FEW(!!!!!!!) of the highlights of our first 5 years the others joined us (oh forgot coming home to our house being flooded while one of the new girls serenely read her book in an adjacent bedroom). And that didn’t include the task of simply winning the hearts of 7 disparate girls who were scared, traumatized and/or angry into my marriage and family so we didn’t turn out like the United States of Tara scenario.

          Somehow I muddled thru it all with the help of our college-aged son who helped me provide literal 24/7 coverage those 5 years, and in time I actually figured out how to help her/them heal so none of that happens anymore, but it was still overwhelming and scary at times.

          I’m sure it’s the same feeling for others, and so many of the SO’s and families turn to get help and instead get something worse than being all on their own thru it like we were.

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          • Sam, my family has been more supportive than most. My parents are realizing psychiatry did not help me and are surprised how much better I’m doing now.

            Julie’s parents also were in her corner. Have you read her most recent article published here?

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          • I don’t think that Steve, Rachel, and Julie are being that cynical at all. How much experience have you really had with the “mental health” system? I’ve found that families that truly support their loved ones in their battles with the system are far and few between. I think you’d be very surprised how many families are the first people to run down and swear out a petition against their loved one so that that person will be dragged into court for a hearing. Many times these hearings are generated by the fact that the family doesn’t like the behavior of their family member. I remember a young transgender woman who was petitioned by her very own father because he was against her accepting her status as a woman and not as the son that he wanted. The father was embarrassed, according to the young woman and so he went down and swore out a petition against her so that she had to spend seven days in the “hospital” for an “evaluation”.

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          • Stephen, that was pretty much my parents experience of NAMI. Back then, it was a gripe group about kids that refused so-called treatment. They asked why this was happening and the parents talked about ways they could trick their kids into agreeing. My dad told me, “I’m so glad you are compliant because I would not want to do that.” Still, he was somewhat baffled by my unquestioning worship of my doctors. He tried to get me to question their actions. I know there were times my parents would call them up and question. Instead of joining in, I was a bit peeved that they doubted the gods. One time, my dad told me to write down if they ever did anything dubious.

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          • I remember a “mixed” NAMI chapter. “Loved ones” and “consumers” in one room. One woman would tearfully bemoan her “sick” son and his refusal of “treatments.”

            His symptoms? He would dress up like Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. Also deride the political party his mom and her friends belonged to. And he refused to look for work or move out.

            Obviously he was acting rudely and irresponsibly. He probably enjoyed watching his mom clutch her pearls at his weird public behaviors. She needed to give him an ultimatum.

            If “Jack” ever got the alleged help his mom wanted him to she will enjoy having him live in her basement unemployed forever. Or institutionalized. But as long as they are on drugs it’s okay if they can’t keep a job, live independently, clean their room, or string a coherent sentence together. It’s also okay to have horrible health problems and die prematurely.

            If a psychiatrized person commits a violent crime or suicide while “compliant” it’s ALWAYS in spite of the high quality care received. If they have gone off these decisions are always attributed to lack of compliance.

            Does it make sense? Nope. That’s NAMI. 😛

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  12. No one represent psyche, only those called insane and this is sad. One of the greatest defender of psyche was James Hillman, and he also was rejected like those called mentally ill. He was one of them. We are rejected by stupid people, we should be proud.

    Thank you for your wisdom, Mr. Hickey. You are a great thinker too, but they will reject you. They will reject you the same way, Tesla or Hillman were rejected by money makers.

    Anti psychiatry is for wise people, not for convenient common minds.

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  13. Those that are anti-war do not deny the existence of war. Those that are anti-nuke do not deny the existence of nukes. Likewise, those of us who align with antipsychiatry do not believe psychiatry doesn’t exist. We recognize it as an atrocity that should be stopped. How much of it should be stopped seems to be the question. Is any of it redeemable? While there are some things about it that might be called helpful, when they add the rest of it into the mix, we realize that the harms and the resulting consequences are too high a price to pay.

    This is also true of employees of the mental health system, who enter thinking they are going to help people. However, what is the help, really, beyond being an outlet for people who are troubled? Along with that comes diagnosing and possibly causing harm by so doing, referral to a psychiatrist, creating a ghetto-like environment, creating dependency that didn’t exist before, and being legally obligated to section a person at slightest remote hint or allusion to anything that makes you uncomfortable.

    People do like having someone to talk to, but it comes with such a heavy price that, if one were to know the real pros and cons (most of which are hidden until you buy the service), very few would choose to have it in their lives.

    One of the main reasons I object to psychiatry is that once you buy this service, even if you assume it is your own choice, if you decide you don’t want it anymore, you can’t end it. Psychiatry is an unending subscription service. “You can check out anytime you want, but you can never, ever leave,” as we used to say. Invariably, anyone who subscribes will experience a decline in all areas of life, including spiritual, physical (one’s health and surroundings), social, economic, and premature end of life.

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    • I’m not a “happy customer” either. I wasn’t even asking for “help”. I was abducted, imprisoned, tortured, poisoned, slandered, robbed, etc., etc., etc., by the state “mental hospital” system. I am, in fact, no longer “a customer”. The whole abducting, torturing, poisoning, slandering, robbing business needs to be done away with.

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        • ^^^^^ Rachel777, is that really enough though? Isn’t most Psychiatry, Psychotherpathy, and ingesting of lethal drugs voluntary.

          And if so, then even if banned, if most people believe that Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Recovery are legit, then won’t the involuntary still exist in some quarters?

          I suggest, ban lobotomy, ECT, and coercive Psychiatry or Psychotherapy.

          Prohibit our government from issuing licenses for Psychiatry or Psychotherapy.

          Stop our government from supporting Recovery Programs ( 12 step, Celebrating Recovery, etc ) and campaign against these. Get people to understand what is wrong with them.

          Get people to understand what is wrong about Mental Illness, Mental Health, Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Recovery. Otherwise these things will always be used to delegitimate survivors.

          Where I live there is a huge underclass, the Survivors of Capitalism and the Middle-Class Family. Most all are kept regulated with lethal drugs, and with talk therapies and recovery programs. It is something like colonial oppression. But this time, the oppressed are coming directly from the middle-class family itself.

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        • I do not think psych drugs should go off the market. I think prescribing should go off the market. What if people could go out to a pharmacy and purchase whatever they wanted? This would lower the god-like power AND the economic power of the MD. People would no longer go to an MD to get a “refill.” Why, when if you want drugs that badly, you can go buy them? In my opinion, “prescribing” psych drugs takes no brains at all. Anyone can go find one of those charts and figure out how to titrate if they want the drugs that badly. I know that is what they rely on. Charts. Anyone can read one. However, if they knew the real effects of the drugs, I doubt many would purchase them. Some would, of course, but likely they would not stay on them. Who wants a drug like Zyprexa which will soon enough make you very very fat? Remember that awesome video done by the Zyprexa rep who finally spoke out? Yes, it’s really true…you can indeed tell someone on psych drugs a mile away, especially if you have had the experience yourself. Twitching, agitation, being very overweight, and unkempt appearance because if you are fighting off fatigue and the urge to pace, who is really going to care about grooming, anyway? Never mind they make us so poor we can’t afford decent clothes.

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          • Julie, you approach means letting zillions of new recreational narcotics on to the market, when really there is no reason that this needs to happen.

            True, Prohibition did not work very well. And today there are movements to decriminalize some drugs. But would we want to start straight off with just blanket decriminalizing off all of these? I would think not.

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  14. ^^^^^ I think Foucault wrote about “Biopolitics”

    This book is good. Difficult reading, but I read much of it, and it is coming from Foucault.

    Yes, it is in Foucault’s “Birth of Biopolitics”

    I don’t think “Birth of Biopolitics” is a book though.

    “In the work of Foucault, the style of government that regulates populations through “biopower” (the application and impact of political power on all aspects of human life).”

    I appreciate your writing here Philip. I want though to introduce another idea. Anti-Psychiatry was an idea popular in the 60’s and 70’s. But there always were ambiguities as to exactly what it did or did not mean. And then today, it does not seem to have many adherents.

    And then starting in the 1980’s, the Recovery Movement exploded. What had been understood as political and social problems, were turned into personal problems. Psychotherapy has proliferated, Psychotherapists giving out more lethal drugs than Psychiatrists do. And then things like the ADHD-Autism-Aspergers exploded in the 1990’s. And then on a forum like this, most people seem to believe that Anti-Psychiatry means simply Psychotherapy and Recovery.

    As it stands now we have a huge underclass, and they are in large measure kept regulated by lethal drugs. Then on top of that there is Psychotherapy and there are the Recovery Programs. And governmental authority is at work in all of this.

    So I say that we need a newer and broader term then Anti-Psychiatry.

    May I suggest the term Anti-BioPolitics.

    Anybody else have an idea for a much broader term than Anti-Psychiatry?

    Race does not create racism. Racism creates race.

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    • Anybody else have an idea for a much broader term than Anti-Psychiatry?

      No, because then you’re talking about something else. (Which you often are.) AP doesn’t need to be diluted by people’s pet personal projects.

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      • The critics of psychiatry fall into two basic categories, depending upon their degree of criticism. Those who are merely critical of conventional psychiatry, and those who are even more critical of psychiatry. Those who are, in fact, so critical of psychiatry that they reject psychiatry altogether. The first group are advocates of critical psychiatry while second support antipsychiatry. You don’t need a “broader” term as that makes the ground covered by both pretty broad.

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      • oldhead,

        If we support Psychotherapy, Recovery, Life Coaching, or Motivationalism, then we are still supporting the same underlying ideas which keep Psychiatry and the Mental Health system running.

        Unfortunately the Anti-Psychiatry Movement does not have too much activity today, but yet things keep getting worse. All of these BioPolitics things get used to manage the underclass.

        Like Marx and Engels wrote in 1848, to the effect, “The bourgeoisies creates its own grave diggers.”

        I have more to learn. But what I think they meant is that the bourgeoisies creates the underclass, the lumpenproletariate.

        Well today, the tools used to create and manage this underclass are Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Recovery, Motivationalism, Life Coaching, and Salvation Religion.

        We can’t stop all of this, as it is protected as free speech. But the most negative parts are always those run on governmental authority, via licensing, tax payer money, and supplying captive audiences. The government run component we should be able to stop cold.

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        • FrankB,

          If we support Psychotherapy, Recovery, Life Coaching, or Motivationalism, then we are still supporting the same underlying ideas which keep Psychiatry and the Mental Health system running.

          So we need a broader term, one which deals with the severity of the situation today. We have a dystopia developing all around us.

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          • Did I say I supported Psychotherapy, Recovery, Life Coaching, Motivationalism, etc.? No, I did not. Bankroll brainwashing on your own time, but don’t drag me into the matter.

            Critical psychiatry is critical of psychiatry. Antipsychiatry is opposed to psychiatry. There is no intermediate zone. Either you lock up (and suppress) crazies because you fear them, or they are as crazy as they wanna be because you don’t fear them.

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          • But FrankB, isn’t it true that most people who end up in the hands of Psychiatrists or Psychotherapists put themselves there voluntarily. And aren’t more people getting their lethal narcotics from Psychotherapists than Psychiatrists?

            We can’t outlaw everything. We can’t even effectively outlaw very many things.

            But shouldn’t we stop our government from licensing Psychiatrists and Psychotherapists, and shouldn’t we stop them from supporting and ordering Recovery Programs, and submitting captive audiences to them? And shouldn’t there be protections against subjecting children to any of this?

            And shouldn’t we stop our government from approving and funding Jesusolotry Programs, as they did during the Bush43 administration?

            As I see it, its all about the deliberate creation and management of a vast underclass.

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          • But FrankB, isn’t it true that most people who end up in the hands of Psychiatrists or Psychotherapists put themselves there voluntarily.

            No, not so long as admission into a hospital means a locked ward. I don’t think people “volunteer” for forced treatment so much as they are “volunteered”. If you can’t get out of any situation you are in, well, we have a word for that situation, and that word is trap.

            And aren’t more people getting their lethal narcotics from Psychotherapists than Psychiatrists?

            Most people in the system, the public “mental health” system, are getting their neurotoxins from psychiatrists. Following the DSM-III, and the triumph of bio-psychiatry, more psychotherapy is done by psychologists than psychiatrists these days. In some places psychologists are being granted prescribing privileges, but that is still the exception rather than the rule.

            A heck of a lot is against the law. Too much, some folks might say, and so, yes, unfortunately we can outlaw many things, and often many good things get outlawed.

            Our government is not licensing anybody who hasn’t gone through school. I think you should do something about mental health law instead, the law that allows circumvention of the law when it comes to “mental” cases. Do that, and psychiatric assault ceases to be the acceptable treatment or behavior that it presently is.

            Of course, children should not be subjected to labeling and torture, but, once the genie is out of the bottle, putting him back in is always going to be problematic.

            I’m an atheist, and I don’t see the government forcing religion on me or anybody else.

            When the world revolves around the rich 1 % of the population, the other 99 % of the population is underclass. Of course, these underclasses are divided, in some fashion, between those who get paid off by the 1 %, another 20 %, and those who don’t, but you get the picture. With a more equitable distribution of wealth, the 99 % has the power to correct the many wrongs created by this situation.

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        • PD, I think of those recovery modalities as as “psychiatry’s little sister.” They are part of psychiatry. When I say I am antipsych, I really also mean the entire MH system. Incarceration, brainwashing, labeling, the whole bit. It all has to go. It’s all harmful. I do not care how “nice” a therapist is. Unless their real goal is to keep a person away from the System (which is hugely ironic anyway, as they are part of it), or a therapist that helps someone escape, then I certainly have no use for it. If they’re doing that, then it’s not therapy. It’s something else.

          The best therapists share information and that only. Might be information like, “Did you know that taking that drug will put you at risk for diabetes?” “Have you noticed that ever since you entered the MH system, your life has gone further and further downhill.” This would useful. Most will not even come close.

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        • I believe this analysis of the current situation is flawed.
          The concept of salvation has been terribly misused. But it has a grain of truth in it.
          The psychiatric concept that the mind is in the brain is totally false.
          The Marxist approach remains basically materialistic, as the Capitalist approach has always been.
          They are both mistaken in denying Spirit.
          They key action to take is to correct this error.
          It is a problem of education, not political action.

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      • Oldhead, how many members do you have in your anti-psychiatry debating team, what is their average age, and how many decades do they plan to continue debating with people who largely do not get it.

        Sure, you put on the ballot now something to eliminate psychiatry, eliminate forced treatment, or eliminate the drugs, or any of these in any combination, and I will vote for it.

        But most people would not because they believe psychiatry, the drugs, and the forced treatments are necessary in some cases.

        And this is strongly related to their belief in Psychotherapy and Recovery.

        If we want results, we have to look at how these matters are interrelated in the minds of most people, and then look for places where we can build an active coalition.

        Mind Freedom is stupid, because they promote Psychotherapy and Recovery, while at the same time bending over backwards to try and assure the public that their people are in no way a threat.

        When you start off like that, trying to convince the public that under no circumstances could you be a threat, then you have already lost.

        We cannot follow Mind Freedom, not at all!

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    • Anti psychological monotheism.

      “I equate Christianism with moralistic fundamentalism … you have to face this level of Christianism because that is where its world conquering force lies. It’s not Christian love that’s conquered the world … not its sophisticated interpretations and theology. It’s successful because it mobilizes the will, and the will needs fundamentalism or it does not know what to do …[it is] utterly monotheistic … there is only one meaning, one reading of the text, for instance, the one meaning of Christ’s suffering.[2]”

      James Hillman

      “Similarly, psychological monotheism tends to regard difference and diversity as irreconcilable opposites and reduces all psychological life to moral issues. Particularly in the light of the impossible-to-resolve ‘Problem of Evil’ in Christianism, this kind of moral reductionism and its fusion with the heroic archetype, provides the justification for all types of action and violence against whatever seems ‘outside,’ a prescribed idea of ‘unity’. Thus, Jung’s view of the West’s ‘monotheism of consciousness’ is directly related to the internalizing of a particular type of Christianity. As both he and Hillman reiterate, it does not matter if one is a Christian or not, ‘believer’ or atheist. Rather, it is a particularly narrow psychological attitude towards self, others, religion, knowledge, in short, life itself.”
      “In contrast to the reality of a ‘polytheistic’ psyche, psychological monotheism refers to a literal attitude towards psychological, that is, symbolic events, in which, through a self-reflexive moral reductionism, one vision overwhelms all others, swallowing them in an attempt to extend itself and create ‘unity’. The tendency towards literalization and moral reductionism is peculiar to Christianism…”

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      • “The insistence on psychological singularity is a kind of implicit ideology, supplying images and appropriate feelings about them, creating a fantasy of what it means to be ‘a people’. And this major archetype, of an essentially one dimensional ‘god’ brings with it its compatible and fellow archetypes. For instance, One Lord is accompanied by One faith (orthodoxy/modernism), One Law (shariah/WTO), One State (dar-ul-Islam/globalization), served by One body of the faithful (ummah/consumers). A beautiful evocation of the ideal totalitarian (and paranoid) society.”

        “This idealized unity requires for its earthly realization, an ideal man, the Hero, who can receive the (divine) commands and overcome in his own person and at large, the obstacles that stand in the way. These obstacles must also have a mythic dimension. Whether the story is retold in an Islamic, Christian, Jewish or Hindu setting, some dragon of dangerous strength must have its head chopped off, traitors everywhere must be sought out and eliminated since, ‘you are either with us, or against us’. ”

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        • danzig666, I have much to learn, but I believe that your above two posts are generally along the same lines as what Foucault has written. And I believe that that is the major source we need to look to in order to resist the horrors which are unfolding.

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  15. Kate, you asked what would happen, if psychiatry were eradicated, if a person wanted to commit suicide. Being upset, sad, etc, isn’t a crime, so why should a person who is suffering get locked up like they’re a criminal?

    If there were no “hospitals,” teens would much more likely open up about suicidal feelings. There will be no threat of a nuthouse to keep them silent and scared. Much of suicide happens because of the MH system. Hospitalization increases suicide, because after a person gets out, they are 100 times more likely to commit suicide than a non-mental patient. Not only that, therapy often pushes a person to suicide, because much of the time, therapy encourages the very same problems it is supposed to solve. Psychiatric drugs often cause agitation, a precursor to suicide. I bet if we eradicated the mental health system, suicide would decrease, not increase.

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  16. Andrea Dworkin’s femanist writings on abuse and rape fit well into the anti- psychiatry movement. Women were not believed. All Our Trials by Emily L. Thurman takes onacurrent and broader view on female incarceration.
    Violence against any human. We see this with the weapons industry and other corrupt entities with a full out repression of truth and facts.
    There actually is a psychiatrist that sees racism and inequality as factors writing out of Vanderbilt. Go figure.
    We have to deal with crime victims, we have to deal with the human tragicomedy of life in war, and poverty and history so there will ALWAYS be that.
    But the systems as it is now and has been – no.
    There needs to be a quashing of DSM and the creation of a process of being unlabeled. Even with HIPPA – if you give a medical professional a list of meds you are on – dead in the water.
    SSD status – red flag and oh my if the police come to your house.
    Also the stoppage of mental health checks by safety forces. There are ways and there are ways to talk about fears of a person in crisis. And then the ER portal. Both present options are no win situations and not help.

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    • Survivors today are not believed. Their complaints are not taken seriously, not taken as things which require penalties for perpetrators, reparations for survivors, and organizing to protect the next generation.

      Rather it is the survivors who are looked as as living in error. Psychotherapist Ron Unger has said as much of his own practice.

      So until survivors start fighting back, they are only making themselves into fodder. As Foucault put it, waiting to be granted permission to die.

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  17. OMG I’m never going to get through this. I’m finally up to point #1:

    1. Psychiatry’s definition of a mental disorder/illness is so wide that it embraces virtually every significant problem of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving…

    I agree with much or most of what Phil says but sometimes for different reasons. I would NOT pose this as my #1 reason for being anti-psychiatry because it implies the problem is the definition of “mental illness” being too broad — rather than the entire idea of “mental illness” being in violation of the laws of logic and language, i.e. equating a metaphor with an actual pathology.

    I like point 2, which entertainingly deconstructs even further the ways in which semantics are manipulated with disease labels to imply there’s something there when there’s really not.

    #3 gets into the issue of not only specific labels (schizophrenia, bipolar, ADHD, etc.) being invalid, but the idea that these labels even represent a legitimate category, however mislabeled. Dragonslayer compares this to a (false) argument over what the Easter bunny really is. Schizophrenia is not really something else; there’s nothing “there” to label except the outward expressions of individual experience, all of which is unique. I like the way Phil describes this as “loose clusters of vaguely defined problems.”

    Well hot damn — I just breezed through the rest of the first 9 bullet points with nary a disagreement nor much to add, except to note that (#7) misleading people into accepting physically destructive “treatments” is more than disempowering; it is criminal; and that if people were fully informed and consented nevertheless, by psychiatry’s own logic they should be seen as acting in a self-destructive manner and prevented from consenting.

    So there’s hope for getting through this after all. I’m treating it likeas a homework assignment; this is part 2 of my report.

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    • “A key issue to be sorted out is exactly what IS psychiatry? Is it A) A rogue or “failed” branch of medicine meant to help people or B) A parallel police force assigned to control and repress people?” These are two different questions that are confusing because they are posed as one question; the first addresses psychiatry and the second addresses perceptions of psychiatry.

      Psychiatry is an illegitimate medical science that pathologizes painful emotional suffering and other natural “problems with living” with the myth of “mental illness”; this serves community leaders as a tool of social control. Most people believe that psychiatry is meant to help people until it is understood as a harmful, false myth. Even when people understand the myth, it is so ingrained that people often have difficulty considering it as having the purpose of delegitimizing suffering for social control.

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      • I disagree with this post of mine. I defined psychiatry in a way that is both (A) and (B) and thereafter described these two definitions as “perceptions.”

        Perhaps my problem comes with the term “assigned” in definition (B) above. I believe that psychiatry is “assigned” to help people but “serves” a controlling and repressive function like exorcism for “demonic possession.” We live in a community that predominately believes in the myth of “mental illness.”

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          • Our community believes in the myth of “mental illness” that advocates a Pollyanna World. Our culture believes that emotional suffering is unnatural regardless of cruel and unjust life experiences- regardless of predominately distressful life circumstances. The myth of a Pollyanna World must be exposed.

            The myth of “mental illness” serves the function of social control for a secular world consistent with “demonic possession” for a theological world. Exorcism is difficult to understand as a means of social control for someone who believes in the myth of “demonic possession.” Exorcism is BOTH a “false” theological belief intended to “help people” AND a tool of social control. Consistently, psychiatry is both a false medical science intended to help people and a tool of social control. The myth of a Pollyanna World must be challenged.

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          • Steven,
            as someone with a theology degree, I’ve got to admit I’ve never seen or heard exorcism explained that way. Now on a practical level, I can see how exorcism was abused by those in authority to become what you have stated, but certainly on a theological level I think most scholars would strongly disagree with your statement.

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          • How would demons fit in with a Pollyanna worldview?

            I sought out a deliverance minister myself once. (Protestant exorcist.) My choice. Those who reject the supernatural and the Christian worldview would say it was all hypnosis or I was susceptible to the power of suggestion. That’s okay. I would not force it on anyone. It doesn’t work if you’re unwilling.

            He treated me more respectfully than any shrink I have ever known. He did it all for free too.

            It helped end my suicidal desires and depression eventually. I learned techniques from him that helped me finally banish the Evil Voices for good. Coming off the drugs helped me too.

            If you don’t like or believe in that, that’s okay. I WOULD oppose forcing this on anyone the way shrinks do. Only consenting adults.

            The government does not finance exorcists the way it does shrinks either.

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          • Sam and Rachel, my apologies; I state that “The myth of ‘mental illness’ serves the function of social control for a secular world consistent with ‘demonic possession’ for a theological world.” Thereafter, I erroneously (and misleadingly) substituted “exorcism” for “demonic possession”; exorcism is a “cure” for “demonic possession” similar to burning possessed people.

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        • Naw, I don’t think it’s inadvertent if their goal is to make us obedient. If we are, that’s called “responding to treatment.” I have to laugh because when I was incarcerated the stupid nurses claimed that if I went to group it would show that I was “better.” No, it would show that I was submitting myself to idiot groups like Bingo which were insulting and demeaning to many of us.

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      • They are not two different questions. It’s an either/or, and my choice of course is B. I’m NOT talking about “perceptions,” but the literal purpose and function of psychiatry. I don’t play to people’s perceptions or prejudices, I’m interested in the truth. If an institution of social control is perceived as a branch as medicine then our job is to demystify that misperception.

        So maybe I’ll see your response tomorrow if we’re lucky. 🙁

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      • The psychiatrists portray themselves as serving two functions.

        A. Healers of diseased people. The “mildly mentally ill” or the “severe cases” if they have good insight and take 10 drugs at a time without question.
        B. Saviors of the “normal” folk from the dangerous “SMI” ogres running around. If they are given full control of society and allowed to reign as absolute monarchs they will rid the world of crime.

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      • How many South African police joined the force because they wanted to defend the system of apartheid against all attackers? A lot of guys want to be police because they just like the idea of an orderly and safe community. But in South Africa (as an example) some of those guys found themselves in a situation where they were murdering innocent protesters who just wanted to be respected as people.
        They didn’t realize how far their leaders would go to defend the status quo. They were pushed into situations which they sooner or later realized were very unethical. A few of them came clean during the Truth And Reconciliation process.
        I see a similar situation in the “mental health” system. Remember: That system doesn’t include just psychiatrists. There are police, judges, lawyers, social workers, psychologists, and real medical people all caught up in that system. They look to the psychiatrists as the “experts” and that is their huge mistake.
        We are attacking organized psychiatry because it is so perverse, so dishonest, so criminal. It has cooperated willingly in depriving so many people of their basic human rights for no purpose higher than profit. But ultimately we will have to provide everyone who participated in that system with a way to recover from the ill-effects it has had on everyone who has participated in it. I don’t see any way around that.

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        • I agree that many participants, in particular, the lowest level “staff,” will certainly need to recover. Imagine how terrible it would be to come to the realization that putting someone in solitary was unbelievably cruel. Strapping someone to a bed meant you had abused them. I bet most “staff” would be scared to admit it. It hurts too much, likely, so they avoid coming to this realization even if it is staring them in the face.

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    • I need to second this motion by oldhead because it is critical for people to understand. Why don’t people pause to ask themselves “What is mental illness?” Those who pursue this line of questioning might be led to Szasz who posed and answered this question better than anyone to date. It used to be a question of real interest, as Szasz points out, among philosophers, politicians, and laymen alike. Now, as Szasz also points out, the myth of “mental illness” has become a lying fact. The myth is so pervasive and held so dearly that few dare to pose the question “What is mental illness?”

      Let me pose the question, and answer it. What is “mental illness”? Mental illness is no more real than the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, or Santa Claus. Fortunately, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus don’t go around labeling, drugging, incarcerating, and murdering innocent people. The Easter Bunny delivers treats or Easter eggs or chocolate, the Tooth Fairy delivers money in exchange for a tooth, and Santa Claus delivers gifts to good girls and boys. Psychiatry, on the other hand, in the guise of medicine and wielding the myth of mental illness, delivers destruction. It deprives innocent people of everything that is dear, their lives, their liberty, and their pursuit of happiness. Unlike benign or beneficial myths, the myth of mental illness wrecks havoc upon innocent men, women, and even children.

      In fact, a good definition of evil is anything that intentionally causes harm to innocent little children. By this or any other measure, psychiatry, along with it’s pernicious myth of “mental illness,” is and always has been evil. Therefore, to resist the evil of psychiatry is only natural for those who possess any scintilla of a conscience or any particle of common sense.

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      • DS, I was more alluding to the idea of false categories, not just absurd “disease” terms; I think you will remember a previous discussion of what the Easter Bunny “really” is — when the reality is that there’s nothing consistent to label OR mislabel.

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      • Actually the myth of mental illness is tough to define.

        For example the myth of Santa Claus is a magical man in red with a white beard and big belly flying to different homes on Christmas Eve with gifts for kids.

        The myth of mental illness is more nebulous. Is it cognitive impairment? Or moral impairment? Or chronic unhappiness/distress? “It” is supposed to be a chemical imbalance in your brain.

        Touched by Fire gives the idea that the “mentally ill” are geniuses. So not cognitive impairment.

        Chronic unhappiness or distress? Why is that supposed to be a disease?

        The public likes the idea that bizarre or vicious crimes are all “symptoms” of the mythical disease. But then Dr. Torrey says not to confuse bad behaviors with illnesses. So looks like it’s not moral impairment either.

        And the chemical imbalance does not exist either. Dr. Pies is livid anyone would think he was ignorant enough to believe the lies he refuses to correct.

        So mental illness

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        • There is no “it.” I don’t know how many people get this, as some claim they do but then make further statements which indicate that they really don’t. So I guess I’ll just keep repeating it in hopes that it will suddenly “click” with someone from time to time.

          Yet another way of saying this — there is no “thing” that would be more real if “it” were called something other than “mental illness.” Nothing but “loose clusters of vaguely defined problems.”

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          • True. There is no such thing as “mental illness.” The typical response to this assertion is to wonder about all of the people who suffer or who manifest symptoms of some sort of a problem. Again, the answer is simple, whatever problems a person may have, they do not constitute some mythical “mental illness.” Every one of the fictitious “diseases” is a figment of the psychiatric imagination and a fabrication of the psycho-pharmaceutical industrial complex. “Mental illness,” therefore, is a pernicious myth that has been adopted by psychiatry and Big Pharma in order to “manufacturing madness,” as Thomas Szasz put it. Even though there is no such thing as “mental illness,” pervasive ignorance about this fact causes many people to behave as if it were something real. Children wait upon the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus for their treats. Meanwhile, those who have been deceived by psychiatry wait upon the magical solutions to their non-existent chemical imbalances and mythical “mental illness.”

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          • DS — At the risk of sounding redundant to many, what I’m trying to get you to confirm is NOT that “mental illness is a myth”; we know that. My point is it’s not just the term that’s the problem; in that case we could come up with another term than “mental illness” and all would be copacetic. The point is that there’s NOTHING TO NAME.


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          • If you really don’t want to call the various classic mental phenomena (those that existed well before the DSM was ever invented) “mental illness” then be my guest to invent a new term.
            But to imply that the abilities and capabilities of an individual cannot be attacked and reduced through mental channels would show a vast ignorance of life and history.
            Those channels of attack do exist, and will be used as long as there are minds to attack. Our problem today is to bring people up to a level where they can successfully repel such attacks.
            One important needed action is to expose and discredit the false technologies of psychiatry. For they are false without a doubt. But that is only one important needed action, not the end of the line. There will still be a lot to be done once psychiatry is moved out of the way.

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          • That’s right. There is nothing to name.

            There is no “mental illness.” The name and the myth, however, are pervasive enough that most people behave AS IF there were some entity that “mental illness” describes. Myths are powerful, and human beings are imaginative creatures. That is why I have set out to slay the dragon of psychiatry.

            But you’re right. There is no such thing as “mental illness,” and the myth of “mental illness” does not describe or point to any underlying reality. Hence my frequent comments regarding the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc.

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      • I gotta laugh, DS. I had this awesome tooth fairy named Danny. I even exchanged letters with Danny. I loved that more than anything. Imagine a tooth fairy who writes back! Funny, though, Danny’s handwriting changed sometimes, from the right-handed, angular writing of my dad, to the beautiful left-handed script my mom wrote. Hmm…was Danny DID? Of course, that wasn’t up for debate. No, he was a real tooth fairy. Of course.

        I did know that Santa and the Easter Bunny were fake. Those were for Christian children, not for me. Not my chimney! No fat guy would fit down there, and I seriously wondered about any chimney on the block. Now if only people would realize that mental illness is a similar delusion, but oddly, grownups are the ones who believe this. Kids generally know better. Till they get brainwashed.

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  18. The most interesting thing I find in these debates is that the “medical” model being discussed isn’t medical at all. There are many physical ailments that induce “mental” symptoms, yet most psychiatrists know nothing about them. Unknown numbers about them likely couldn’t properly identify sufferers of the “classical” deficiency diseases- pellagra, scurvy, beriberi (said Hoffer), much less neurologically and other physically related ones likely to require a complete examination BEFORE diagnosing a condition.

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  19. This is in response to Steve Spiegel’s comment. Would someone who identifies as an AP activist wander around stinking and acting incoherent? Possibly, but not likely. Anyone who is capable of understanding basic AP ideological concepts likely doesn’t have severe cognitive issues. People who have just had ECT or are heavily drugged are less likely to grasp the concepts. But that’s the object, right? Keep us as clueless as possible.

    I suspect MI denial will show up as a mental disorder eventually. Then, we all better watch out. If that happens and we are asked, just lie and tell them we worship the DSM and their disorders. Tell them if we ever got depressed we’d go to a shrink immediately. Then, walk away and laugh.

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  20. This is a well-considered (but for me over-long) discussion of this issue.
    One point that sticks out for me is that all members of the profession were never on board for the “modern” medicalisation of mental disorder. Those who oppose this approach to “treating” the mind must today stand in opposition to “psychiatry.” Yet there have always been a certain number of psychiatric doctors who actually wanted to make people better, not just get paid for writing prescriptions.
    Beyond that, I have never seen in any discussion like this a lucid treatment of how this profession (or any of the major professions for that matter) is actually organized. There must have been a minority “central authority” that made the decision to pursue the medical model. Yet it seems difficult or impossible to identify exactly who those individuals are.
    Further, it has been noted by various historical researchers that psychiatrists played key roles in several past governments that specialized in terror as a method to control populations. This is NOT the expressed or implied purpose of psychiatry, yet those actions exist as historical fact. The profession must deal convincingly with that legacy if it wishes to shed the very justified public perception that it, as a profession, is basically lying through its teeth.

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      • ^^^^^^ I agree 100% with johnchristine.

        But I also feel that we have to make sure that we also oppose Psychotherapy, Recovery Programs, Life Coaching, Motifationalism, and the Salvation Industry.

        These things all work on a logic which is similar to Psychiatry. They serve to keep survivors marginalized and unable to politically organize.

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  21. Psychiatrists won’t even acknowledge the harms done by their illegitimate profession. Therefore, people need to boycott the whole institution.

    Those who are not directly being coerced by psychiatry (outpatients) have the best chance of showing the general public that psychiatry is a fraudulent institution. They can best do this by boycotting psychiatry; and of course, this will take a lot of organizing for it to be effective.

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    • A boycott would be a great idea. If psych had no customers, they would fail as a profession. Too bad…so many of them coming out of the medical schools will find out they don’t have any positions available. Well? A lot of college students end up in that position as it is. Psychs won’t die. Maybe get depressed, though, or psychotic.

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  22. Phil, sorry about all the drama surrounding MIA during this increasingly rare and necessary article by you.

    I would like to ask what you think about the psychological tactic (used to guilt trip movement people) of claiming that in order to credibly oppose psychiatry you must first have an “alternative”? Did they say that about slavery or concentration camps?

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    • “[…]claiming that in order to credibly oppose psychiatry you must first have an “alternative”? Did they say that about slavery or concentration camps?”

      Yes, some people did expect an alternative to concentration camps and slavery, before they were willing to give credence to critique.

      It’s not what should be thought of as an intellectual stretch to propose an alternative. Instead of concentration camps, we’ll learn to live with differences in humanity of all kinds. However, we’ll also develop a quasi-slavery prison complex and we’ll recreate concentration camps off the radar at Guantanamo Bay. What is the alternative to Guantanamo Bay and a prison slavery complex?

      Alternatives are always needed. The need for them doesn’t end once people have agreed on some new way. Rights and liberties are under constant attack. Ways and modes of living constantly changing. All things are fluid and shifting so the call for alternatives is constant and necessary and not something which should be shrugged away.

      Shrugging alternatives away is what landed us with slavery and concentration camps and a prison slavery complex and Guantanamo Bay.

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      • Let’s put it another it another way. Is everything that’s good automatically an “alternative to psychiatry”? Why is psychiatry the standard against which everything is measured? Are breathing clean air or eating healthful food or have a social-political system which addresses human needs “alternatives to psychiatry” or simply the way things are supposed to be? This is why I call the demand for an “alternative” a trap designed to guilt trip people out of opposing psychiatry. It is made knowing full well that, just as psychiatry can’t stop people’s misery, neither can we, until there has been a complete transformation of human priorities and an equitable redistribution of wealth and power.

        I also support rescuing abandoned cats; should we hold off on fighting psychiatry until all the cats have been saved as well?

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          • If you’re talking about forced non-consensual maltreatment, providing “alternatives” actually does validate force, Get rid of force, and you wouldn’t need “alternatives” to it. An “alternative”, in fact, when standard practice is not forced, would mean force. We don’t need “alternative” treatments (& look it up, “alternative medicine” is quackery), we need non-consensual forced psychiatry outlawed.

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          • yeah, good point there. “Alternative medicine” is regularly debunked by Western Med because many of those alternatives are a threat to pharma and the medical device companies.

            They already know, for instance, a way to survive without dialysis. They don’t want us to know. They use excuses like, “That’s only done in poor countries” but guess what? Alternatives make a whole lot more sense than invasive surgery to create a fistula, and then, putting a person on a machine. For life. Or shall I say for the rest of one’s life that you wish you never chose.

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        • Psychiatry itself is an alternative–to community support, holding criminals responsible for their behaviors, eating right, and legitimate medical care for Lyme’s Disease and countless other ailments doctors ignore in order to sell SSRIs.

          A big reason communities push psychiatry is it helps them write off the suffering and annoying folks. Then they can pat themselves on the back for ignoring the outcast since “I’m not a professional. Only licensed professionals should talk to bipolar freaks like Mary.”

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    • I agree with you oldhead, but there are a couple things to consider regarding slavery and concentration camps. Obviously, no one in their right mind would dream of replacing slavery or concentration camps with reformed or critical slavery or concentration camps. However, the abolition of American slavery required more than an emancipation proclamation.

      In many ways it would have been cruel to emancipate slaves and set them loose in a society where they would be immediately killed or pressed into worse forms of slavery. Some provisions had to be made. Those who survived the concentration camps also needed somewhere to go. This doesn’t mean that slavery wasn’t wrong, or that the Nazi’s weren’t evil. It just means that the process of the abolition of psychiatry might take much longer and cost more than one might initially anticipate.

      Thus, no alternative for psychiatry is needed, but the ever augmenting numbers of psychiatric survivors will struggle to reintegrate into society. There is also the question of how justice is to be administered to the perpetrators.

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        • Except for the playing fast & loose with history part. There were no “halfway houses” for emancipated slaves.

          It just means that the process of the abolition of psychiatry might take much longer and cost more than one might initially anticipate.

          I wasn’t aware that anyone had made projections about the time frame. The cost is not our problem, it’s theirs.

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          • There’s nothing fast and loose about the reality that I described.

            Reconstruction and Jim Crow are further evidence that the abolition of slavery and emancipation were not simple matters of letting people go.

            To return to the topic at hand, namely psychiatry, we might imagine that psychiatry is abolished, but as long as people continue to believe in the myth of “mental illness” or to hunt for cures to “chemical imbalances” in the brain, there will always be something that sweeps in to fill the vacuum that psychiatry leaves behind.

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          • A lot of ex slaves were terrorized or murdered by the “night riders.” Or continued working on the same plantations “voluntarily” since they had nowhere to go.

            You could call share cropping a kind of halfway house.

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          • We cannot just eliminate psychiatry. We must eliminate the brainwashing that causes the mentality in the first place. The media needs to stop lying about this or that disorder you might have. People need to stop calling themselves or their relatives diseases. Imagine just saying, “He’s upset because….” or some such thing.

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          • We cannot just eliminate psychiatry. We must eliminate the brainwashing that causes the mentality in the first place.

            Well, that’s part of the process of eliminating psychiatry. And to eliminate the brainwashing we need to have a coherent analysis of psychiatry ourselves before we’re ready to impart it to others.

            The media doesn’t work for us and never will, so fretting about what they “should” do is useless and a waste of time. Trump should give us a 10 million dollar grant too, but don’t hold your breath.

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      • But, there ARE alternatives to psychiatry! That is to say, proven technologies for making “crazy” people well. That so many even on this forum are unaware of this fact only demonstrates how thorough, widespread and effective psychiatric propaganda has been. I have no doubt that it would be difficult to put together an effective and ethical mental health system, but that’s not saying that we lack the technology (human technology, not machine technology) to do so. That technology exists.

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        • Crazy people are “sick” people?

          Actually, now you can evade adulthood indefinitely by opting for the “mental health treatment” trip, however, campaigning for the violation of your citizenship rights and civil liberties has it’s shortcomings.

          No psychiatry is not an alternative to psychiatry until somebody starts shoving psychiatry down your throat. Stop forcing psychiatry on people, and they won’t need an alternative to forced psychiatry.

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          • The simplest example of this is to be found in the lectures on this website. The lecturer spoke of a young man who was having psychotic breaks which were handled by nutrition therapy. We can debate what “well” or “healthy” mean, but these are common English words and have always meant more than just “not physically sick.”
            I see an inclination among these commenters to dismiss the whole concept of “mental health” as some sort of sham. I don’t see it that way at all. It’s just that psychiatry has never had the answer and probably never will.

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        • Psychiatry pathologizes emotional suffering and other natural “problems with living”; this is a harmful, false narrative that causes more “problems with living” than could possibly be remedied by any “mental health” technology.

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          • Steve Spiegel wrote, “Psychiatry pathologizes emotional suffering and other natural “problems with living”; this is a harmful, false narrative that causes more “problems with living” than could possibly be remedied by any “mental health” technology.”

            But this is also true for Psychotherapy, Recovery, Motivationalism, and Evangelical Religion. They are all based on teaching people technologies of denial, and on pathologizing the perfectly natural desire to stand up for oneself.

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          • Yes, very true, Steve Spiegel. I do have “problems” now that were created by psychiatry. I have abuse trauma and it affects me all the time. It changed me, changed the person I am. I was also harmed by their drugs. I have to deal with kidney disease now, which of course I solve by natural medicine and not their medicine. I have drug-induced insomnia which I believe, as of right now, I have finally solved. Eight years of insomnia turning me into a bitch…..But now it seems to be solved.

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          • The handling, of course, would be to take away psychiatry’s “expert” status by learning more about the mind than they will ever know, and thus be able to replace their perversions of help with real help.
            There are many working on this right now. I think we just need more, and eventually their house of cards will topple.

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          • “We’d like to know a little bit about you for our files
            We’d like to help you learn to help yourself
            Look around you all you see are sympathetic eyes
            Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home”

            Mrs. Robinson, Paul Simon, Bookends (Album), 1968

            “And here’s to you”

            My advice to people in the “mental health” system is get out of the “mental health” system. Being beholden, in debt, really, or dependent on other people, is not the best place to be at, and that’s what the system thrives on. It’s all artificial crippledom leaving any benefits as transparent as a three dollar bill.

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          • I work on the assumption that there will always be a “mental health system.” The only major questions are: Who controls it? Are they ethical? Is their technology effective?
            Systems can be reformed, and I think this is the only realistic approach in this case, and with many other societal systems that today seem broken.

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          • I don’t work under any such assumption. If it weren’t for forced treatment, what we are referring to as the “mental health” system would not have arisen. What is assumed is that there is something “wrong” with a certain percentage of the population, and that this percentage of the population needs to be “fixed”. Again, I make no such assumption. We’re going to be “suffering fools”, despite all, regardless.

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      • I agree. The transition is not easy. I have made a study of the transition–and, as a person who was brainwashed for 35 years I can say this–it doesn’t happen overnight. I put some observations of the process in my book (Life After Lithium) saying that for some, the grieving is unbearable. I have known many whose anger (part of grieving) gets mistaken for mental illness which drives them right back to psychiatry. Many will not leave since they’ve identified as mental patients for so long, they fear losing their identity, their selves, in the process. “I AM bipolar, so how can I give up who I am?” When you leave a cult (I am also a cult survivor) you go through the same bewilderment. “Who am I now?” We need to reach out with compassion, help these folks go through this transition. Mostly, they need to be aware of what it is, and why it’s happening.

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    • Oldhead, thank you for asking that question of Phil. I would like to just jump in here and reply. I have heard people say that to me many times, f2f. What they mean is, how are you going to regulate people, mostly the poor? And often as not they are also saying this about Psychotherapy and Recovery too.

      My conviction is that once people see that they are needed as fighters in the revolution, then their screwy behaviors and addictions will evaporate.

      We all need to organize and fight back. Survivors have to make it clear that we won’t stand for Psychotherapy or Recovery as the alternative to Psychiatry, rather we insist on punishment for perpetrators and reparations for survivors.

      I feel that what we are dealing with is what Foucault called BioPower, or BioPolitics. It is basically when people have been so subjugated that they won’t do anything seriously wrong, so that the government is able to regulate them by forcing them to keep on living. Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Recovery, Salvation Religion, all either partially or totally run by the government now. All used to keep survivors passive, and making up a huge underclass.

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      • Massive underclass, the family scapegoats, which is regulated by Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Recovery. Can outlaw some of it, but not all of it. For the rest, just prohibit our government from authorizing it by licensing it.

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      • What they mean is, how are you going to regulate people, mostly the poor?

        That’s what they mean in essence even if though they don’t realize it. But the people who end up believing and repeating this think they’re being compassionate; they want to identify with psychiatry as a “helping” profession that would like to be more helpful but just doesn’t understand. People bend over backwards and engage in spectacular leaps of logic to believe this.

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        • And oldhead, yes, I believe that exactly as you put it is how Foucault meant it with BioPower, BioPolitics.

          They convert us into subordinates who are waiting to be allowed to die.

          And so I also say that you cannot separate the menace of Psychiatry from Psychotherapy and Recovery. They are always bound together in people’s lives.

          We cannot abolish them, but we can prohibit the gov’t from licensing them.

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      • Even though it is impossible to adequately compensate for the destruction of so many lives and the unfathomable harm that has been caused to so many innocent people, reparations is a serious question to consider.

        Think of it. The average income of a psychiatrist is approximately $200,000 per year. Then think of Big Pharma profits. Think of the APA, and their accumulated wealth. Think of the profits from sales of the DSM-V. Add to that all of the money that is wasted on “mental health” and other such nonsense. There is an astronomical amount of money that is poured into the deliberate harm of the innocent through psychiatry.

        As part of the abolition of psychiatry, that money needs to be redirected toward the victims of psychiatry. If a psychiatrist makes $200,000 per year harming innocent people, it seems that the bare minimum compensation for a single psychiatric survivor ought at least to exceed that amount.

        Then, what to do with all of the wasted space of psychiatric wards, pharmaceutical companies, departments of psychiatry in universities, and so forth. Bull-doze them and erect useful edifices?

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          • No need to imagine. It’s happening right now. Many of those who comment on MIA are psychiatric survivors, escaped slaves. Why should they not discuss reparations? Why wait?

            This is a topic that needs to be addressed more thoroughly and in more detail. Psychiatry causes irreparable harm to untold millions of innocent people, and yet next to nothing is being done to rectify the problem or to assist psychiatric survivors. If a person is lucky enough to escape the foul clutches of psychiatry, he or she still has an uphill battle to fight because there is no legal or social support for victims of psychiatry.

            By all means, abolish psychiatry. But where is the legal and social support for psychiatric survivors. If Stella Liebeck can sue McDonald’s for almost $3 million when she spills coffee on her lap, why can’t a psychiatric survivor obtain any compensation whatsoever when his or her entire life is destroyed?

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          • Dragon Slayer you’re going against your conservative principles here, not that I mind. “Disability” payments could be considered a form of reparations, however inadequate. But it’s odd to see you demanding “social supports” of any sort for anyone.

            Also, you’re echoing the corporate legal strategy by trivializing the damages in the McDonalds case.

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          • Many of those who comment on MIA are psychiatric survivors, escaped slaves.

            Sorry but no one here is an escaped slave. Claiming this validates the misconception that we equate psychiatry with chattel slavery (to which you implicitly refer), rather than acknowledging the legacy of slavery it represents and/or drawing parallels between the two.

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          • Demanding financial compensation for crippling and defaming is not incompatible with capitalism OH. Extreme medical malpractice and libelous slander by calling law abiding citizens a menace to society.

            As far as chattel slavery goes, it was not psychiatry. Szazs himself took care to point out they were different.

            Psychiatry can also be compared to a cult, a snake oil selling medicine man, a drug dealer on the streets, Dr. Fata who pretended healthy folks had cancer before crippling them with chemo, an abusive partner, and the Holocaust.

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          • That’s right oldhead. In some ways psychiatry is worse than chattel slavery because at least most honest people understood and recognized that chattel slavery was wrong. Unfortunately there are many good and honest people who wrongly suppose that psychiatry is a genuine medical profession that helps people. This is one reason why psychiatry is so pernicious. It is a worse kind of tyranny because the tyrants exercise their tyranny with the approval of their conscience.

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          • Demanding financial compensation for crippling and defaming is not incompatible with capitalism OH.

            In this case I think it is; we’re talking tens of billions of dollars at least.

            Please don’t imply that I have ever equated psychiatry with chattel slavery, this is the kind of misinformation that people use against us. When AP people talk about slavery they are usually either a) comparing aspects shared by institutions of total control, which describes slavery, psychiatry, prisons, etc.; or b) referring to the literal, historical involvement of psychiatry in enforcing slavery (such as “diagnosing” runaway slaves as suffering from “drapetomania”).

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        • Just don’t make these vacated Psychiatric Edifices into Recovery, Therapy, and Healing wards.

          Universal Basic Income, Universal Health Care, Universal Housing, Universal College Opportunity.

          And we will also need lots of court rooms to give these Psychiatrists and Psychotherapists fair trials.

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      • This comment makes a good point, but goes far beyond the scope of this particular issue. There are many factors that help create poverty, despair, addiction and what most of us refer to as “mental illness.” At this point these factors are not generally well-understood. Most of us have no specific idea of how to make things right, only a keen awareness that things aren’t yet right.
        I hope the awareness of how to improve the situation without just creating more tougher situations will catch up to the awareness that the status quo is so inadequate that it is for all intents and purposes criminal.
        The idea of having a revolution is an old idea. It is the first thing many of us think of, but I can only ask you to observe where we are today and to what extent all those past revolts really helped change anything. There is no doubt that change is needed. I have great doubt that revolt (at least as it has been used historically) is the way to achieve that change. I think something on the order of education is much more likely to get us where we ultimately want to go.

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        • Psychiatry pathologizes natural emotional suffering (and other natural problems with living); it advocates a Pollyanna World. Pathologizing sadness with the myth of “mental illness” is a crime against humanity; it causes increased emotional suffering (and other natural “problems with living”). Understanding psychiatry as a tool that delegitimizes natural emotional suffering in support of cultural practices is critical for challenging this harmful narrative.

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          • This is all very fine, but what are we going to do – for example – with the psychiatrists? Does not their despicable behavior indicate some sort of mental problem? We have a similar situation with other types of criminals. Do you have a suggestion regarding how society should handle such beings? Do you think such people can be rehabilitated? I think some of them can be.
            Beyond that there are many human conditions, both temporary and chronic, that have mental components. We can learn to help people through these situations. Don’t you think we should try?

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          • I_e_cox,

            I believe that we will need a Truth and Reconciliation commission to figure how to go forward after Psychiatry has been delegitimized as a medical science.

            I definitely believe that our society should provide social services to those who suffer emotionally or struggle with other natural problems with living.

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          • Of course we can help the psychs after they’ve been put out of work. We already do that for people. It’s called Unemployment benefits. Any of them that still need “help” after that can apply for disability and enjoy their “benefits” and forced poverty. Oh we can also make them take drugs to keep their benefits. Make them live in HUD and pay for their groceries with food stamps. That’s the help we got, so they deserve it, too.

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  23. Replying to FrankB, above,

    Understand that if they hurt you, then that makes it easier for them to hurt me, and then that makes it easier for them to hurt someone else.

    If we have a society where things work like that, then you can never expect any better. And democracy does not work. Rather democracy demands that we protect each other.

    Now our government licenses Psychiatrists and Psychotherapists. And these are people who have all graduated from such schools. I would not suggest that we ever try to prevent consenting adults from talking to each other. But what Psychiatry and Psychotherapy are trying to do is just plain wrong. We cannot stop it completely, but we can deprive our government of the power to ever license it. Doing so, I believe, would neutralize most of it negative power.

    And an outcome of this is that people would see that they need political activism, not therapy, recovery, and healing.

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    • You’ve got an uphill argument to make, but not with me. Institutions of higher education train psychiatrists, governments evaluate and license them. A lot of people, a heck of a lot of people, think that what psychiatry is doing is just plain right. I’m not one of those people, but convention seems to count for a lot. You think you can convince people to deprive government of the power to license psychiatrists. There’s your uphill argument. It’s not one I’m going to make because my fight is with force, with power, and not with petty regulations and procedures. End forced treatment, and you don’t have to take the license to practice medicine away even from your pretenders. The problem is not that psychiatry exists, the problem is the power that has been granted to psychiatrists over the lives of other people. Take that power away, and they’re just like everybody else…again. The problem is not that there are psychiatric hospitals, the problem is that those hospitals are only figuratively hospitals, and that they are literal prisons. They aren’t hospitable at all. Change that, and you will have done something. Psychiatry is just a word, censor it, and it will reappear as a completely different word.

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      • Let me, if you will, Pacific Dawn, clarify a little. I don’t go by the formula: Psychiatry is the root of all evil, eradicate it, and everything will be hunky dory. I have a great deal of skepticism regarding any such formula. I don’t think psychiatry is the root of all evil, and I don’t think if it is eradicated that everything will be hunky dory.

        What I oppose about psychiatry has to do with the two key words you mentioned in your comment, consenting adults. Forced psychiatry takes away our right to consent, and thus transforms us into children or sub-humans devoid of the basic rights as they apply to others of our species. You can’t deprive people of liberty without also depriving them of responsibility. I see forced treatment as a threat to our basic liberties as put forward in the Declaration of Independence, in other words, I see forced treatment as impinging upon our “right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, or ownership of property. I would, in other words, give people back their adulthood, and with it their citizenship, by allowing them to say “no” to psychiatry. Get rid of forced treatment, and the only people being injured by psychiatry would be those who have consented to be so injured. Force deprives people of consent by definition. Get rid of involuntary hospitalization, and I have no issue with the profession. When they can’t force treat, and, thereby, injure, the likes of you and me, against our will and wishes, what bother! My problem with the profession–forcing treatment on people who neither desire nor seek treatment–will have been addressed. Treatment as a form of self-injurious behavior is not a really big issue with me. You really can’t force wisdom on people either. It’s not that consensual treatment is uninformed, it’s this matter that if you don’t really have the right to say “no” to treatment, the right not to consent to treatment, it can’t really be said to be consensual in the first place.

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        • I oppose the myth of “mental illness” as well as coerced “treatments” and do not believe that coerced treatments can be prevented without challenging the myth. Psychiatry advocates that natural emotional suffering (and other natural “problems with living”) is a medical problem that causes a loss of normal brain function wherein a moral society should intervene to assist. False medical legitimacy promotes the myth of “mental illness” that promotes the standard coercive “treatments” of psychiatry. Get rid of the medical science legitimacy of psychiatry and I have no problem with it operating as a philosophy or theology.

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          • I disagree. If “mental illnesses” were actual “illnesses”, why, why, the coercion? Why the locked doors, and why the closed wards? We don’t force treatment on most patients in the hospital, in fact, many patients, with fatal conditions, have the option of not receiving any treatment. There is nothing however potentially fatal about so-called “mental illness” except perhaps the thoughts and actions of the “afflicted”. The issue has to be ‘public safety’ because it certainly isn’t protection of the folk physically detained in the asylum/hospital/prison. You don’t have to segregate people from the communities in which they work and live for medical treatment as a rule, but that is exactly what is done with so-called “mental health” conditions. My take on the matter is that coercion, incarceration, came first, and then people started talking “medical” because they thought, thereby, the coerced might receive less harsh treatment. The problem is that, following this reform ploy, physical treatment for non-physical distress has shown itself to be much more harmful than the distress itself. Distress that, in and of itself, is only harmful, to a substantial degree, through exaggeration, and you get a heck of a lot of exaggeration in the “mental health” system. Most people suffering from real medical issues are not under threat of coerced treatment, and further coerced treatment, following legal proceedings.

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      • Well FrankB, we have to look for places we can strike and battles that we can win. Otherwise this debate goes on until we die.

        I agree with everything in RW’s books. But I agree with very little which is written on this forum, or which is put out by Mind Freedom.

        Most of the people on this forum are promoting Therapy, Recovery, and Healing, if not actually advertising their services.

        You will never get any curtailment of the power and authority of psychiatry if you are staring with the premise that some people need Therapy, Recovery, and Healing. Because if the above is true, then it follows from that that there are some other people who need Psychiatry, Drugs, and Forced Treatment.

        So you start with a movement which promotes none of the above and takes a clear position. Then it acts directly on some of the lower hanging fruits.

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          • As I see, in RW’s books he makes an overwhelming case against psychiatric narcotics.

            He says nothing whatsoever about anything else.

            This is right, as he has a singular point to make.

            But when it comes to this forum or any kind of a political movement, it gets into the lives of real people, and there is a huge problem. People here are advertising for psych drug research, for the concept of mental health, for psychiatry, psychotherapy, recovery, and salvation seeking, and these are exactly those things which delegitimate a large portion of the population and go into the creation of a huge underclass.

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  24. “and do not believe that coerced treatments can be prevented without challenging the myth.”

    Agreed. But I also say that you can’t stop coerced treatments or the concept of mental illness, if you are at the same time condoning Psychotherapy or Recovery.

    BioPolitics, a theory which contains the whole thing and shows how it works.

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  25. Steve S. wrote, “False medical legitimacy promotes the myth of “mental illness” that promotes the standard coercive “treatments” of psychiatry. Get rid of the medical science legitimacy of psychiatry and I have no problem with it operating as a philosophy or theology.”

    Most of that medial science legitimacy comes from the gov’t licensing. I two have no problem with these things existing as philosophy and theology.

    I just want to end the gov’t licensing of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, and end the government money and involvement in Recovery and Salvation Religion.

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  26. In my opinion, lack of informed consent is a serious problem with psychiatry. But it is not the only problem.

    You also have governmental authority being used to con people and manipulate them. You have this in gov’t licensing for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, and gov’t support for Recovery Programs, and with G. W. Bush for Salvation Programs as Faith Based Charities.

    All of these things enable abusers and disempower survivors, making for a huge and constantly managed underclass.

    People are not going to support ending Psychiatry, or even just ending Forced Treatment, when these things are necessary in their world view.

    In R.W.’s books he make a compelling case against psyc drugs. But about anything else, he is silent. This seems to be deliberate. So I could not disagree with his book on any of these other things, as he says nothing.

    For a book, that is best. He makes his point very well.

    But for forums and for political action, one does need to take positions on all of these issues. Just agreeing that you would not support the ideas of Therapy and Recovery, would be a huge improvement over mind-freedom, and over those letters published in the Boston Globe supposedly opposing the Murphy Bill. Those letters reinforced the public view that there are lots of people who need Therapy and Recovery, need to have their lives managed by these things.

    I also want to introduce a new idea here. Thinking about this, I do not at all go along with the concept of Mental Illness.

    I also do not accept the concept of Eating Disorders. That sounds like another flavor of Mental Illness.

    Rather I would just say that someone is “eating in a manner which is deleterious to life and well being”. But this is not the same as a disorder.

    So then as far as what to do about it, I would again say political activism.

    You can’t outlaw the Fashion and Entertainment Industries, though some would try.

    But a young woman could move from the excessive image self conscious realm, to the actual physical intimacy realm, where attitudes are more open and more comprehensive.

    Interesting graphic novel, seemingly about young women’s bodily images:

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  27. Let me remind people that Binge Eating Disorder was not recognized by the APA until Vyvanse was determined as a drug to “fix” it. I have an MIA article on this.

    This happened in 2013. At the time, I kept wondering why the APA took that long to figure it out. I thought they were just stupid. Yes, that too….

    I kept wondering if their refusal to recognize BED as significant was why my complaints were ignored for decades.

    BED is certainly real, and you will very much suffer from it. However, it is a mistake that some people think (and I did, too!) that it comes from a “chemical imbalance of the brain.”

    It is true that it comes from a chemical imbalance, but not what people think. Malnutrition is a very real, very serious chemical imbalance!

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    • Not recognized until their was a drug, interesting.

      Again trying to be gentle and sensitive. I can see that there are destructive ways of eating, and that it can be really serious. But I don’t go along with the idea of “Eating Disorders”, as that sounds like “Mental Illness”.

      So what is the best approach to such, as it can be very serious?

      Again political activism. Probably it does have to do with the Fashion and Entertainment Industries. Though I would not say that you can restrain them. But what can be done is just to shift from making pointless comparisons, to actually physical intimacy.

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  28. Dr. Hickey, there is a bigger picture. Psychiatrists are the con men that big pharma use to make sure people don’t stray from believing in physical causes for physical diseases and no simple for the fiction of mental illness.
    Psychiatry labels as illnesses, the devastating effects of related, inhumane people’s foul game play. The suffering is real, but it is not due to any biological problem. However if people can be lead to believe in mental illness and those mythical chemical imbalances and now also genetic causes, then they are safe with selling their snake oil for cancer and heart disease etc. In the first video in this answer I discuss the foul game play that causes distress of the type which may be called mental illness. In the second video, which you will see also involves issues and a person’s reaction, I discuss how and why a person develops cancer. It is a nocebo effect. If the truth were to emerge and people realized they can make themselves well simply by addressing their reactions, then big pharma would take around an 80% correction. It would be financial ruin for the big pharmaceutical companies. So they employ psychiatrists to weave the magic and keep the profits flowing like the biggest river on Earth.

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