The New Yorker Peers into the Psychiatric Abyss… And Loses Its Nerve

Robert Whitaker
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It’s been a couple of weeks since The New Yorker published a lengthy article on Laura Delano and the difficulties of going off psychiatric drugs, and since then I have been trying to assess, in my own mind, whether it marked a step forward in terms of the media’s coverage of psychiatry and its treatments, or, oddly, a reminder of how, when push comes to shove, the media will reinforce conventional beliefs.

In the weeks prior to April 1, which was when the online article was posted, I had my doubts about whether the magazine, arguably the most prestigious general interest magazine in the United States, would tell Laura’s story in full. I knew that the writer, Rachel Aviv, had been working on the story for close to a year, and yet Laura’s story—of how she had been harmed by psychiatry and its drugs, and how her journey back to a robust life centered on rejecting conventional psychiatry and its beliefs—was one that the mainstream media had always avoided.

Aviv surely knew her full story well, and had gotten editorial approval to invest months of work reporting it, and so I dared to wonder: would this be the time that the taboo was broken? And if so, would the dam then break, with articles now appearing in the mainstream press questioning the conventional “disease model” narrative that psychiatry, as an institution, has told to the public for the past 35 years? This would make for an astonishing turn in the public narrative that governs our society’s thinking about psychiatry and its treatments.

Indeed, as another New Yorker writer, Malcolm Gladwell, famously wrote about how dramatic societal changes occur, this article could become a “tipping point,” and perhaps soon the public discussion would be focusing on how psychiatry’s disease model has been a public health disaster, and how psychiatry, as an institution, sold us a narrative out of sync with its own science.

It seemed our society’s future discussion on this topic was at stake in this article, and this is why, a couple weeks after its publication, I think it is worthwhile to take a closer “deconstructionist” look at it.

Laura in Her Own Words

Laura’s personal story is well known to most MIA readers. In fact, it was Laura’s desire and willingness to tell her story that was a seed for the creation of this Mad In America website as a “webzine,” with a stated mission of serving as a public forum for “rethinking psychiatry.”

Laura wrote to me in 2010 shortly after my book Anatomy of an Epidemic was published, and after we met at a Cambridge coffee shop, I invited her to write a guest blog on my personal website, madinamerica.com. I’d had this website ever since 2002, when I published my first book on psychiatry and its history, Mad in America. Laura did so, and soon a physician who had read Anatomy of an Epidemic, Mark Foster, was writing a guest blog as well, and from there it was a small step to turning my personal website into a webzine.

Laura was the first person to publish her personal story on our new webzine, and, in addition to writing regularly on Mad in America, she worked for MIA for a number of years and organized our international film festival in 2014.

Like so many young people today, Laura stumbled into the world of psychiatry as a teenager, when she was experiencing some of the existential “Who Am I” anguish common to that age in life. At first, she resisted seeing herself through a “mental illness” lens, but after several years of taking psychiatric drugs, she accepted that she was “bipolar.” She wrote:

When Psychiatry had first attempted to indoctrinate me as a young teenager, I was not yet vulnerable or hopeless enough. When I eventually reached such a state, I surrendered myself immediately to a psychiatrist at America’s most prestigious private psychiatric institution, and became a full-blooded patient, passive and dependent and convinced of her brokenness, in a matter of weeks. I believed him when he said I’d “meds” for the rest of my life, and would have to learn how to “manage my symptoms” and “set realistic expectations” for myself. I was sure that the “Bipolar” diagnosis was the explanation for all my problems, and that the prescribed “treatment” would be my solution. I needed to be “Bipolar,” and I needed to want the antipsychotic, antidepressant, and sleeping pill prescriptions that were written for me at the end of that first session, because they gave me hope that something could, and would, change.

All told, Laura spent 13 years wandering lost in this psychiatric world of diagnosis and treatment, and it ultimately led to her nearly dying by suicide, and an ever greater number of psychiatric prescriptions. Then, in 2010, she stumbled upon Anatomy of an Epidemic, and suddenly she came to see herself—and her past—in a new light.

And how, just how, did I wake up? How did I awaken to, and from, this powerful indoctrination [into the “cult of psychiatry”]? Let me focus, for the time being, on The Moment. That is, the moment in which I began to wake up from 13 years of drugged, numbed, disconnected, psychiatrically labeled sleep. The moment in which I began to recognize and realize that everything I’d been told to believe about myself by Psychiatry was not necessarily true . . . You see, in that critical moment in May 2010, the spark that years ago had been fiery and bright in me was once again rekindled, the fuel, Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic. Upon seeing its hardcover face looking at me from a “New Release” shelf in a Vermont bookstore, I couldn’t have predicted in my wildest imaginings that the result would be an awakening; indeed, I was so anesthetized by Psychiatry’s spell that I didn’t even know I was asleep. But something in the deepest parts of me—my life force, my élan vital—was stirring, and desperate for change. I was in an existential survival mode, although I didn’t know it consciously, and I was ready for something to be the catalyst. The timing was just right for it to be Anatomy, and despite how incredibly disconnected and sedated my mind was from five psychotropic drugs, my human spirit, still in me after all those years under the care of Psychiatry, began to stir.

In the years since, Laura has written about her transformation in any number of blogs, and how it began when she rejected psychiatry—its conceptions and its treatments. In her writings for Mad in America, she told of rediscovering “an authentic connection to self and world.” She wrote about  “escaping” from diagnostic labels, waking up from a “pathologized adolescence,” the pursuit of “freedom” by leaving psychiatry behind, and psychiatry’s abuse of “human rights.”  Indeed, she became a leading voice in the psychiatric survivor movement, speaking powerfully about these fundamental themes, all of which told of a paradigm of care that was doing great harm, particularly to adolescents getting caught up in its web.

Hers is a powerful story, and when Rachel Aviv called me up, all she really wanted to talk about was the moment that Laura and I had met in the coffee shop. Did I remember what we said? And in what way did I see Laura’s story as emblematic, or common to other adolescents who were diagnosed and treated with psychiatric drugs?

Laura and I spoke several times in the weeks before the story was published. We both wondered the same thing: was it really possible that The New Yorker was going to tell this story? If so, it would surely send shock waves through psychiatry and unsettle the public mind, for this would be the moment that a mainstream American publication was finally giving credence to a narrative that, in the past, had always been banished from mainstream media.

From my perspective, this was my own “moment” I had been waiting for. This could be the moment that our societal thinking about psychiatry and its treatments changed.

Deconstructing the “Moment” in The New Yorker

From a journalist’s (or novelist’s) perspective, Laura’s story follows a classic arc: Early good fortune, then a fall into a dark world, and then, following a dramatic turn in her life, she re-emerges into the light. And it is easy to see that Rachel Aviv’s article, for the first 4500 words or so, is following that script. She writes about how Laura was born into a wealthy family, then comes Laura’s existential “who am I” crisis as a teenager, which leads to diagnosis, drugs, and years lost wandering in psychiatry’s wilderness. And then—cue the drumroll here—comes Aviv’s telling of the “Moment.”

In May 2010, a few months after entering the “borderline” clinic, [Laura] wandered into a bookstore, though she rarely read anymore. On the table of new releases was Anatomy of an Epidemic, by Robert Whitaker, whose cover had a drawing of a person’s head labelled with the names of several medications that she’d taken. The book tries to make sense of the fact that, as psychopharmacology has become more sophisticated and accessible, the number of Americans disabled by mental illness has risen. Whitaker argues that psychiatric medications, taken in heavy doses over the course of a lifetime, may be turning some episodic disorders into chronic disabilities. (The book has been praised for presenting a hypothesis of potential importance, and criticized for overstating evidence and adopting a crusading tone.)

Laura wrote Whitaker an e-mail with the subject line “Psychopharms and Selfhood,” and listed the many drugs she had taken. “I grew up in a suburban town that emphasized the belief that happiness comes from looking perfect to others,” she wrote. Whitaker lived in Boston, and they met for coffee. Whitaker told me that Laura reminded him of many young people who had contacted him after reading the book. He said, “They’d been prescribed one drug, and then a second, and a third, and they are put on this other trajectory where their self-identity changes from being normal to abnormal—they are told that, basically, there is something wrong with their brain, and it isn’t temporary—and it changes their sense of resilience and the way they present themselves to others.”

At her appointments with her pharmacologist, Laura began to raise the idea of coming off her drugs.

The first thing you’ll notice about this passage is that there is no comment or explanation from Laura about why she found reading the book so transformative. Indeed, as written here, it would seem that Anatomy simply provided Laura with reason to consider the possibility of tapering from her medications. But why? We don’t really know.  There is no mention that Anatomy enabled her to see herself in a new light, and that she now saw herself as having been turned into a mental patient by psychiatry. Her recovery would begin when she rejected all that psychiatry had told her about herself—and yet that is missing from this account.

Then there is Aviv’s treatment of Anatomy. Given that this is an article about Laura Delano, and how reading the book was transformative for her, the only journalistic need here is to have Laura explain why that was so. But instead of writing about that, Aviv veers off into a brief discussion of Anatomy, and she does so in a way that could be expected to bring comfort to those who would defend the conventional narrative.

Anatomy of an Epidemic puts the conventional narrative under a microscope, and it does so by relying on psychiatry’s own published research. Anatomy tells of how researchers, dating back to the late 1970s and early 1980s, were failing to find that simple “chemical imbalances” were the cause of major psychiatric disorders, and how, in fact, they were finding instead that the drugs, over time, induce the very chemical abnormalities hypothesized to cause the disorders in the first place. Anatomy then focuses on research regarding the long-term effects of psychiatric drugs, and makes a case that these medications, over the long-term, increase the chronicity of psychiatric disorders. It tells too of how the diagnosis of ADHD, adolescent depression and juvenile bipolar took off in the 1990s, helping to expand the market for psychiatric drugs,and how this “pathologizing” of childhood was turning adolescents into lifelong mental patients.

But that book is not to be found in Aviv’s piece. In its place is a book that is much less threatening to the conventional narrative. In Aviv’s description, Anatomy of an Epidemic “tries to make sense” of a paradox, and it does so by presenting a “potential hypothesis,” which is that psychiatric drugs, when taken at “heavy doses over a lifetime,” may turn some episodic disorders into chronic conditions. In other words, the book’s focus is about the “overmedicating” of some patients (as opposed to a book that tells of a paradigm of care that has done great harm), and it probably shouldn’t be taken too seriously anyway, because critics say that  I “overstate the evidence” and write with a “crusading” tone.

At that point, defenders of psychiatry—unnerved by Laura’s story that led up to these two paragraphs—could breathe a sigh of relief. Laura’s story was now being shoehorned into one about the difficulties of coming off drugs, with psychiatrists and others then commenting about  how this was a concern that the profession needed to tend to, and not one, if Laura’s story had been fully told, about how her recovery began when she rejected the conventional narrative, seeing it as both false and harmful.

In that way, the Tipping Point bullet was neatly dodged.

Part Two of the New Yorker Article

With the article now having pivoted into a new subject, it doesn’t tell anything about Laura’s fierce psychiatric survivor writings, or her working for MIA. Instead, the article becomes, as the title for the online story indicated, a story about “The challenge of Going Off Psychiatric Drugs,” with Laura’s struggles detailed in that regard.

This does serve to give much-needed attention to a problem that, for the most part, has long been ignored by the media and downplayed by the psychiatric profession. The New York Times wrote about this a year ago in an article titled “Many People Taking Antidepressants Discover They Cannot Quit,” and recently it has become a subject of much discussion in the UK media. This New Yorker article will help push along public recognition of this problem, and as such, it serves as a crack in the conventional narrative, and thus might open the door to further investigations of the problems with our current “disease model” paradigm of care.

At the same time, The New Yorker article, even as it told of Laura’s difficulties coming off the drugs, drops in a number of reminders of the good that psychiatric medications can do, and how Laura’s experience may be seen as an exception to the rule. In other words, it places Laura’s story within a context that preserves the core of the conventional narrative.

Here are some of the “facts” dropped into the piece that come from the conventional narrative:

  • Roughly a third of patients who take antidepressants do not respond to them (which is to say that two-thirds do.)
  • The drugs provide a “relief of suffering (that) is of a different order of magnitude than the symptoms when you stop taking them.”
  • “Most people who discontinue antidepressants do not suffer from withdrawal symptoms that last longer than a few days. Some experience none at all.”
  • Journals may be hesitant to publish articles about withdrawal “because no one wants to deter people from taking drugs that may save their life or lift them out of disability.”

One wishes that The New Yorker’s vaunted fact-checking process would have investigated these claims. Here is what they would have found:

The notion that 67% of “real-world” patients “respond” to antidepressants is one that has been promoted before in The New Yorker, with the STAR*D trial cited as the evidence for it. While it is true that the STAR*D investigators did indeed report that 67% finding in the abstracts of their published articles, we now know that nothing like that actually happened in the study. This was the largest antidepressant trial ever conducted, with the “real world” patients given four chances to respond to treatment, and, as a reanalysis of the data recently found, only 33% “responded” to the treatment. A smaller study of antidepressants in real-world patients reported that only 19% had responded to an antidepressant. Industry-funded trials do report much higher response rates (60%), but those trials enroll a select group of patients more likely to respond to the drug, and of course what the public would like to know is the response rate in the real world.

The magnitude of “relief” provided by antidepressants is, as seen in RCTs of the drugs, vanishingly small. In industry-funded trials, the “relief” provided by antidepressants is of such a small magnitude—a three point difference on the Hamilton rating scale for depression (HAM-D) between the medicated and placebo groups—that it is too small to even be clinically noticeable, as it takes a seven point difference on this scale before clinicians can recognize that a patient has even marginally improved.

As for the claim that “most people” who discontinue antidepressants do not suffer withdrawal symptoms, in 2018 researchers who analyzed 17 withdrawal studies concluded that 56% of antidepressant users experience withdrawal symptoms, half of whom described the symptoms as “moderate or severe.” Forty percent of those who experienced withdrawal effects suffered them for at least six weeks. This would also suggest that the “magnitude” of the suffering from withdrawal symptoms is, in fact, much greater than the relief of suffering provided by antidepressants in the first place.

Finally, there is ample data that antidepressants, rather than “lift” many people out of disability, dramatically increase the risk that a person with depression will become disabled. A Canadian study found that use of antidepressants doubled the likelihood that a person will go on long-term disability. In a similar vein, an NIMH-funded study of depressed patients found that the “treated” group were seven time more likely to become “incapacitated” than those who did not get treatment.  And in country after country that has adopted widespread use of antidepressants, the number of people on disability due to mood disorders has dramatically increased as well.

This quick review of these four claims made in The New Yorker article is an example of the kind of analysis that sustains the counternarrative and can be found in Anatomy of an Epidemic, which provided Laura with a way to see herself in a new light. But The New Yorker article didn’t dare go there.

A Glass Half Full, or Half Empty?

So what are we to make of the New Yorker article? On the one hand, it does provide an account of a bright young woman who fell into the world of psychiatry, with its diagnoses and drugs, and fared poorly there, nearly dying from a suicide attempt. And it does tell of how once she withdrew from her medications, she regained a full and meaningful life. In that regard, it does break new ground, and opens the door to other more critical examinations of our current paradigm of care.

However, The New Yorker didn’t dare tell Laura’s story in full, which is that her recovery resulted from seeing herself within a counter-narrative that tells of the harm that psychiatry can do with its diagnoses and drugs, and of how the conventional narrative  is built from claims that are belied by a close examination of its own science. Instead, by the article’s end, it had located Laura’s story within a conventional narrative, a world where antidepressants help two-thirds of all users and most people don’t suffer withdrawal symptoms, with psychiatrists now tending to this problem that afflicts a minority of users.

Given the dual nature of the article, I do wish I knew more about the editorial process that governed its publication. My own guess—and this is indeed a guess—is that the writer, Rachel Aviv, may have set out to tell Laura’s story full story, or at least to give an account that was closer to it. But newspapers and magazines have their institutional boundaries, and so I wouldn’t be surprised if the sudden pivot of the article—from a personal article about Laura into one about coming off psychiatric drugs—came about during the editing process, with the little digs at Anatomy dropped into the piece that way as well.

I have heard from many people about the article, and their reactions have been quite varied. Some focused on the fact that it did break new ground, with its report on how, in Laura’s case, diagnosis and treatment led her to such a despairing point. A couple of journalist friends noted the bizarre turn it took partway through, from an article that was chronicling Laura’s life to one on the travails of psychiatric drug withdrawal. Several noted the sly dig at me and Anatomy, with a text from my daughter my favorite: “I was reading one moment about dinosaurs and the next about how my father has been on a crusade!”

All of which is to say, I think the article does show that the “general media” boundaries regarding what is permissible to write about psychiatry are expanding, and that is a very good thing. However, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be reading any time soon in any general interest magazine or newspaper a story that entirely breaks with the conventional narrative that psychiatry and its drugs, on the whole, provide relief to a great many people suffering from “illnesses” of the brain. The thought that psychiatry’s “disease model” has produced a public health disaster remains beyond the pale.

401 COMMENTS

  1. Sadly, I expected as much to happen. The system’s narrative is so entrenched that it seems impossible to cut in two. It reminds me of a conversation that I have periodically with my supervisor about the chemical imbalance myth and how it’s still invoked, if not in name directly at least in the way that the drugs are forced on people. My supervisor states that he hasn’t heard the myth invoked in years where the two of us work. And then I remind him of how that doesn’t stop the psychiatrists from forcing people to take the neuroleptics and the so-called “antidepressants”. Even if the psychiatrists may not believe it anymore the staff are true believers and know nothing of your work or your books. And I’m not convinced that the psychiatrists don’t still believe it.

  2. I think we all need to realize that the DSM is only one part of the a right wing social movement. That social movement still exists, and it began in the 1980s coinciding with the War on Drugs.

    The guild interests of psychiatry run deep and it will take a long time for the pushback for truth to be heard.
    Thank you Robert Whitaker and Laura Delano for starting this truth campaign. We will need many others to speak out against mis-information and scapegoating and slander.

    • Other examples of the right wing social movement include the Backlashes against the Women’s movement, the Civil rights movement, and the Young People’s movements of the 1960s and 70s. I do believe that you find evidence of this backlash against all of these groups in the DSM and in the conservative movements of the 1980s, such as all of the strong conservative church t.v. shows of that era.

        • EVERY current govt. is “the right,” with the possible exceptions of Cuba and Venezuela, and possibly Nepal, haven’t checked lately. In the U.S. the Murphy Bill was passed almost unanimously by Democrats & Republicans alike, with 2 Republicans being the only opposition.

          • ^^^^^^ oldhead is 100% correct. And we have had candidates run on a platform of involuntarily medicating people in the interest of public safety. It is a dismal state of affairs.

            But as JohnChristine is saying, there are all sorts of backlash movements in play. And neoliberalism is one of them. Neoliberalism is a backlash against The Enlightenment.

            The way to fight Psychiatry and Psychotherapy is to show people what is wrong about it. Show people the fallacious premises they are based on.

            Eliminate the drugs, the electroshock, the insulin shock, the lobotomy, and the government licensing of the therapy (the mind fucking)

            The kinds of things which are done without government involvement or licensing may be objectionable, but probably still best to do nothing at this time.

            Recovery programs are often gov’t mandated, trampling on Church – State Separation. These should be stopped.

    • Psychiatry and the Bible of Psychiatry, as harmful as they are, have done relatively little harm in comparison to the leftist utopian schemes, issuing from the thought of Rosseau and Marx, that have wreaked havoc upon the earth from the time of the French Revolution to the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. When sober minds consider the destruction and terror that began in 1789 or the massacred millions under the tyranny of Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot, the tyranny of psychiatry looks like a trip to the circus by comparison. In fact, psychiatry’s lineage can be traced back to the French Revolution, to the likes of Philippe Pinel. Psychiatry’s heritage is the heritage of the left.

      But that shouldn’t stop intelligent people on every part of the political spectrum from rallying together to abolish psychiatry.

  3. If you were to do something about the police model of treatment the disease model wouldn’t represent such a problem. The problem is not merely that people are labeled “diseased”, they are also physically detained, and this physical detention involves a suspension of civil rights and liberties (i.e. it involves doing that which under other circumstances would be illegal).

  4. “…the cause of major psychiatric disorders, and how, in fact, they were finding instead that the drugs, over time, induce the very chemical abnormalities hypothesized to cause the disorders in the first place. ”

    Yes, I have a major psychiatric disorder diagnosis of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is know for Affective flattening, Akathisia, Alogia , Apathy, Asociality, Avolition, …..
    and Anhedonia: The inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable.

    The psychiatric medicines given to the mentally ill known as antipsychotics disable the dopamine and serotonin receptors in the brain.

    the-scientist-and-the-frog http://jokes.cc.com/funny-doctor/fj9nmq/the-scientist-and-the-frog
    Who is insane?

  5. I believe this is why it is important we own our stories outright and tell them our way, with our own voices, in our own words, from our unique perspectives, and via our own personal platforms. Anything else has an extremely high potential for compromising the deepest truth of the matter, to the point of corruption.

  6. I think most of us ARE trying to tell our own stories; but for political reasons, we are silenced or people just tune out.

    Some of our stories are very long and very messy and people don’t want to engage that long.

    Other stories are simply rewritten to format with the bio-medical model. There is a political/social agenda that the media so far is not willing to wander away from for long.

    • So true, of course, about the competing agendas–political vs. personal–and that is causing great distress continuously in these endeavors.

      I think all our stories are quite messy and complex, this is not an easily streamlined subject. There is so much at play here, so many factors which motivate and fuel our life experiences, and each of us has our own unique story to tell, which can also morph over time, depending on how flexible we are with our beliefs and perspectives.

      Healing, personal growth, and evolution are messy, in and of themselves. Like birth. It’s natural, but not easy and quite challenging and painful, to the point of stretching us. And exhilarating at the same time, if we are attuned to the new life happening. That is change occurring, in the moment.

      My reason for sharing my story of how I got into such a mess, and then how I got out of it, layer by layer, is first and foremost for my own clarity, to hear my own voice in a self-validating way, and then I can move on from that particular piece of my story, as though I’d retrieved that part of myself and integrated it.

      What others hear or how they interpret what I say and how I say it–or if they simply cannot hear what I am saying, like there is no reference point or schema–is not in my control whatsoever (which is why I stopped seeing “mental health” clinicians a decade ago). I’m always willing to elaborate, when questioned with respect and genuine curiosity, as opposed to being impulsively invalidated for my truth. That clearly indicates a negative projection, and personal agenda over greater good. Perspectives need to stretch and grow for change to occur.

      It’s happened each way over the years–I have been heard sometimes and I have been grossly projected onto–but I don’t respond to invalidating projections any longer, other than to say, “Sorry, you are wrong in that projection.” No reason to explain myself, that’s a rabbit hole, and regressive to childhood; I only hold myself back when I engage with this and give it any credence. At this point, I know myself better than anyone else could possibly know me, and that’s my certainty. I am under no obligation to prove anything to anyone, that is compromising my personal power. I’ve learned that the hard way over the years, and it’s been a most valuable and fruitful lesson when it comes to manifesting positive life experiences, for a change!

      I speak my truth and share my story for my own clarity, first, and how that ripples is always interesting to witness, but my job is done at that point. Hopefully, when I share my story, my voice will reach the right open ears (and hearts and minds), and that’s always great progress when that happens. For now, at least, I am comfortable with my own truth, and that is what brings me peace and grounding in life.

      • You can publish your on my website, unedited please stop by https://nomorelabels.us/

        MIA serves a vital purpose and we should heed its call to empower ourselves – without it we wouldn’t be having these vital conversations and we can expand them in our own capacity. I will forever be thankful for Robert Whitaker and all he has done. If we want to empower ourselves we now how that choice because of what he has done and continues to do at MIA. Please stop by my website and let’s begin the conversation.

    • You can publish them on my website, unedited please stop by https://nomorelabels.us/

      MIA serves a vital purpose and we should heed its call to empower ourselves – without it we wouldn’t be having these vital conversations and we can expand them in our own capacity. I will forever be thankful for Robert Whitaker and all he has done. If we want to empower ourselves we now how that choice because of what he has done and continues to do at MIA. Please stop by my website and let’s begin the conversation.

    • You can publish them on my website, unedited please stop by https://nomorelabels.us/

      MIA serves a vital purpose and we should heed its call to empower ourselves – without it we wouldn’t be having these vital conversations and we can expand them in our own capacity. I will forever be thankful for Robert Whitaker and all he has done. If we want to empower ourselves we now have that choice because of what he has done and continues to do at MIA. Please stop by my website and let’s begin the conversation.

    • I agree with John Christine.

      One of the basic lies of Psychotherapy is that the therapist pretends to actually be on your side. So he or she will get you to tell your story. But then that allows the therapist to invalidate you by picking it apart, challenging it, and reinterpreting it. The therapist will support passivity, where as the only way someone on the margins can get their public identity back is by engaging in conflict and scoring victories over abusers and injustices. So when you told your story, raw, no redress successes, you were inviting more abuse.

      Freud called this Transference. And now people are staring to sue Psychotherapists over “Transference Abuse”.

  7. Also, the mainstream media cannot fathom the whole truth because it DOES NOT WANT TO fathom the whole truth. The mainstream media relies on the gravy train that is the pharma/ medical conspiracy to DECEIVE consumers. That is my understanding of the truth. Correct me if I am wrong.

  8. Why does Laura’s story mean a lot to me? Because although I did not get my bogus diagnosis until I was 47 in 2012, I did wake up from the bio medical narrative soon after Laura did. I realized that my diagnosis made no sense so I began to search for the TRUTH. The truth was that my diagnosis was politcial–not medical.

  9. What still bothers me a lot is that the so-called “FREE PRESS” HAS FAILED us. That institution should be called the BOUGHT AND SOLD CORPORATE MEDIA, because that is more like the truth.

    Why don’t people know that the bio-medical model of “mental illness” is bogus? Because the TRUTH is not in the business interests of the BOUGHT AND SOLD CORPORATE MEDIA.

    Again, I had to search for the truth in 2012 as I staggered out of the Lindner Center; and I was aware that I was not going to find it in the mainstream media, because they were not telling it.

  10. Hi, Bob. Don’t get me started about the New Yorker article. I, too, expected it to be a tipping point and was very disappointed. As everyone knows, I run the peer support site for tapering off psychiatric drugs, SurvivingAntidepressants.org, which was mentioned a couple of times in the article.

    (The following remarks are about how Laura is represented in the story as a character, not the real Laura Delano, who, as Bob points out, has a somewhat different story.)

    Reading without benefit of Laura’s backstory (which we know from MIA), I perceive Rachel Aviv’s story as written to be one of psychiatric overdrugging, polypharmacy, and potential misdiagnosis. While numerous psychiatric experts probably associated with Harvard (crux of biological psychiatry) were involved in a long trail of mistreatment, I believe psychiatrists will view Laura’s case as an outlier.

    The article failed to convey how common psychiatric misdiagnosis, overdrugging, etc. is. It also glossed over how Laura came off the drugs, and since she had also overdosed and suffered from rhabdomyolysis, psychiatrists will attribute the cursory description of her post-withdrawal symptoms to that. So no game-changing there.

    The general reader may be appalled by the description of prescription cascade, polypharmacy, and adverse effects, but not get the very important point: ANYONE can be taking even one psychiatric drug, have trouble coming off, and meet nothing but misdiagnosis and mistreatment of adverse reactions, particularly withdrawal symptoms.

    The writer, Rachel Aviv, deliberately misrepresented the topic to me as a long, in-depth article about online peer support for coming off psychiatric drugs. (Beyond my site and Laura’s The Withdrawal Project, which shares much content with my site, there is an extensive peer support network serving hundreds of thousands if not millions of people.)

    I perceived a New Yorker article about this could be a game-changer for finally handing off psychiatric drug tapering to physicians, where it belongs. Consequently, I spent many hours corresponding with Aviv, sending her dozens of journal articles, in which she seemed very interested. We went back and forth in congenial discussion about deep underlying controversies in psychiatry. She ended up quoting several of my sources.

    Aviv knows the ground, but produced a rather superficial human interest story not much different from other psychiatric drug horror stories published in the New York Times, the Daily Mail, and elsewhere.

    I also saw signs of stuff chopped out and awkward transitions. We should all have known better — issues in psychiatry flummoxed Louis Menand, an otherwise excellent writer, in a February, 2010 New Yorker article.

    Not a tipping point, not a game-changer, just another one-off human interest story, and attenuated, as you point out, by unnecessary cant about the benefits of the drugs.

    For the Web, the article was originally titled the clickbaity The Challenge of Going off Antidepressants — completely inappropriate, as Laura was taking a basket of psychiatric drugs other than antidepressants — if that tells you anything.

    After the article was published, I expressed my disappointment to Rachel Aviv, who admitted she is also writing a book.

    This whole experience has certainly changed my view of the New Yorker’s credibility.

    PS I am now even more determined to transfer responsibility for getting people off psychiatric drugs to the professional medical community and put myself out of business. I am tweeting as @Altostrata with hashtag #Deprescribing.

    • Well, for one, I greatly admire your efforts. Hopefully Twitter doesn’t ban you in time, as that’s their approach towards uncomfortable information.

      But to get to the point, I want to keep sounding my one note here — if anyone allows themselves to be “disappointed” that the corporate media refuses to tell our truth about psychiatry they are being almost inexcusably naive. This includes Bob’s notion of the New Yorker “losing its nerve,” when it’s actually just doing its job.

      Why is this so hard to understand? When one finally deduces that psychiatry exists for purposes of social control and systematic domestic repression — not “medicine,” “failed medicine” or anything of the sort — it becomes obvious that the p.r. organs of the U.S. ruling class will not allow themselves to promote the sort of consciousness that would undermine this. This is beyond the control of any well-meaning reporter and, should such a story somehow slip by the editors and be published, that reporter might find her or himself writing obituaries shortly thereafter.

      Ergo, we need to recognize the deal here and the parameters that have been drawn for us; only then will we be able to devise a strategic way of dealing with the media. Because in the end we draw our power from the united will of the people, not the blessing of the New York Times.

      So don’t hold your breath or make too many retirement plans. 🙂 I don’t think the psychiatric industry is about to officially delegitimize itself just yet, unfortunately for all of us.

      • P.S.

        The article failed to convey how common psychiatric misdiagnosis, overdrugging, etc. is.

        Misdiagnosis”? “Overdrugging?” Don’t you see how these terms validate the psychiatric narrative and imply that there are such things as “reasonable” drugging and “correct” diagnosis?

      • This thread is too long to read. So I’m just replying to things which jump out at me, not picking on Julie. 🙂 🙂 🙂

        This country used to license professional slave catchers, to capture and rendition suspected fugitive slaves. Because of their license they could operate anywhere in the country, and no one was to interfere with them.

        Well today we have a better system. A renditioned fugitive slave was still likely to be rebellious.

        Today we license therapists. So the disposed, the mal treated, the stepped on, the abused, and the disenfranchised can all be sent to the couch. Then a government licensed therapist will convert them from being an angry slave into being a happy slave. And they are always ready to hire themselves out to parents.

        And this won’t stop until we stop our government from licensing therapists.

    • I will say, though, that there appears to be a move to acknowledge withdrawal symptoms from “antidepressants” in many media stories all of a sudden. Someone else said this, but I think it is a “damage control” approach, where things are so bad they have to admit something, but want to direct the “flow” to a place where it will minimally interfere with their financial concerns. So it IS a victory of sorts that the narrative has changed, if only in this one respect, and I don’t think it would have happened without MIA and other efforts to make the truth known to the public. Keep the heat on!

      • I don’t think the narrative has changed, though there are a few chinks in the armor. Another way to describe this would be as psychiatry strategically cutting its losses. Rather than settle for this I think we should up the ante and “mainstream” the topic of “antidepressants” and mass violence, and “crazy” violence in general.

        • I agree 100% that it is an attempt to “get ahead of the story” and control the narrative. I believe it only is happening because the true information about the ineffectiveness and dangers of psychiatric drugs are coming to the surface. They have to deflect attention somewhere, so they are choosing to focus on “withdrawl effects” in order to keep their “diagnostic” and “treatment” systems as intact as possible. So as distorted as the story itself may be, it is a sign that the recent increase in pressure to get the truth out is having an impact. “Cracks in the armor” make space for a well-placed sword strike to do some real damage!

      • UK unemployment is now almost down to 3%; and UK long term disability is now almost up to 20%.

        “…A Canadian study found that use of antidepressants doubled the likelihood that a person will go on long-term disability….”
        (from the article).

  11. Robert, It is vexing the New Yorker (or Aviv) left out important pieces of Laura’s story to lessen negativity towards psychiatry but I was glad (even a bit surprised) the article did acknowledge the pivotal moment for Laura to free herself from the drugs and pathologizing of psychiatry came when she found your book. Even if the New Yorker got in a subtle dig that very pivotal fact of Laura’s story still stood out for me. Even a mentioning of the book may drive people to read it and find out more. Even though it would have been better had they exposed more of the sordid details I still feel this piece overall was a significant step forward.

    Thanks again and much respect and appreciation for all the exceptional work you do and have done.

  12. My overriding sense here is that this attention to Laura and Inner Compass by the corporate media amounts to a containment strategy on the part of psychiatry and the system in general. Laura is “mainstream-palatable” and presents a media-friendly persona which is easy to latch on to (these are not criticisms), and is the perfect person to present whatever message they want to send out. I think Laura is being embraced by ruling class publications such as the NYT and New Yorker as a way of preventing the dam from breaking, by putting out a message that some but not all people might have “problems with their medication” that in some cases may need to be addressed with assistance of a competent shrink. This as contrasted with laying out the inherent contradictions and fraud which have characterized psychiatry from the start, with drugs being only the most in-your-face tools/weapons.

    Bob W. does little to un-muddle the confusion by introducing false issues such as “Roughly a third of patients who take antidepressants do not respond to them.” Grrrrr. THIS IS NOT THE ISSUE. If people are being given drugs for fraudulent and deceptive purposes THAT should be the issue, not whether or not the soma “works” to make us better cogs in the machine we should be raging against.

    Laura if you’re listening, you have a perfect opportunity to expose this whole fraudulent system, not just one of its tools (though that’s important too). They need you more than you (or we) need them, and if you take a stand here many of us will back you up. It is indeed auspicious that corporate media are starting to feel the pressure our incipient movement is starting to exert. However keep in mind that their purpose is to distort and confuse; when we understand that we can turn their agenda back on them. Abolish Psychiatry!

  13. It is impossible to imagine that Aviv and her New Yorker editor did not know the entirety of Laura’s story, and so they made a choice to protect the institution of psychiatry by burying truths — a choice that a real journalist should be ashamed to make.

    Of course, the moment that a journalist challenges the legitimacy of the authority of psychiatry is the moment that this journalist will be attacked by psychiatry who will attempt to marginalize that journalist.

    It is likely that had Aviv refused to protect psychiatry, the New Yorker would have killed the entire story, and Aviv’s career as a mainstream journalist would been dealt a blow. But that story of her being censored would have been a powerful one, one of real journalistic value. Aviv certainly would have received support from not only the MIA orbit but from courageous journalists all over the world.

    Beyond Aviv’s inaccurate facts and omitting critical aspects of Laura’s story, Aviv does damage to journalism and society at a much deeper level.

    For a democratic society to exist, its journalists must have the courage to be unintimidated by threats of illegitimate authorities to marginalize them for truth telling. There needs to be a community of journalists who admire truth-telling and support truth-telling colleagues and frown upon journalists who protect institutions at the expense of truth telling.

    Ultimately, when fearful journalists advance their careers by pleasing illegitimate authorities, and when truth-telling journalists are unsupported by their colleagues, not only does journalism suffer, but we as a society grow even more cynical. And people feel even more disempowered than they already feel.

    • We do have a controlled media, which has as its primary function propagandizing – as opposed to educating – our population, unfortunately. Which is part of why our current President is calling the mainstream media “fake news.” I absolutely agree with your last two paragraphs, but there are solutions.

      We at MiA should be fighting to make DTC (direct to consumer) pharmaceutical advertising illegal. This would take the control of our mainstream media out of the hands of the pharmaceutical industry. We are one of only two nations on this planet that allows DTC pharmaceutical advertising, and it needs to end. And even most doctors agree, from my understanding.

      There are many decent independent, truth telling journalists online. But the problem is not so much journalists not standing up for journalists. The problem is the big tech firms are silencing the independent, truth telling journalists as fast as they can. So we need to work on creating laws, apparently, to prevent the big tech firms from taking away the freedom of speech of the truth telling, independent journalists, more so than we need to blame the journalists who are feeling threatened.

      But I do agree, all these problems do cause us, “as a society [to] grow even more cynical.” So we should work to fix these societal problems. Those are a couple of issues MiA, and all who care about humanity and our US society, should be addressing. If I were a lawyer, I would be, but I’m not a lawyer.

      I’m merely a banker’s daughter, and artist, who can see the big picture. Who was psychiatrically defamed for, what was eventually concluded to be by my psychiatrist, being “insightful.”

      • We have a corporate owned media, and that, in large measure, must go a long way toward presenting only one side of the message, a message amenable to business interests. I really can’t imagine any national television company, with so much pharmaceutical money in sponsorship, airing a program that takes a critical look at pharmaceuticals. Over and over again, it’s drug ads with a litany of negative effects that they expect, and see, the public put to sleep on predominating. Gloss over this somnolent exercise, and attend to the “que sera sera”, they seem to be saying. I would think, this being true of broadcasting companies, maybe there are strings being pulled in other branches of the media as well.

        • “We have a corporate owned media, and that, in large measure, must go a long way toward presenting only one side of the message, a message amenable to business interests.”

          That’s why we at MiA should be working towards ending the pharmaceutical advertising in our mainstream media. DTC pharmaceutical advertising is illegal in all but two countries, and it should be illegal in all countries, including the USA. Just like cigarette and alcohol advertising is illegal in the USA.

          This is a goal that both the medical doctors, and us critical and anti-psychiatric individuals, can and should be working on together. Not that I trust or want to work with those who attempted to murder me to cover up easily recognized iatrogenesis and the medical evidence of the rape of my child.

          But the reality is there are also good people who were misinformed, and are stuck, within the satanic Rothschild’s “competition is a sin,” medical/ pharmaceutical industrial complex, who did actually go into medicine to help others.

          Ending the pharmaceutical industry’s right to participate in DTC advertising is in both the ethical medical communities’, and the critical and anti-psychiatry communities’, best interests.

    • Its not just the media, it’s politicians and all the other institutions that support Psychiatry even when they are made fully aware of its damage (and uselessness).

      Any commercial individual that speaks out is not likely to last long but if they stay in the group they can be protected.

    • I am a writer, too. All writers have to change their stories a wee bit to satisfy their editors. It is ideally a cooperative venture. Still, think of it…to be published in the New Yorker is not an easy feat. It is a very prestigious publication and if anyone gets picked by them it’s their Big Break. I can see why Aviv might have had to concede. They might not have published Laura’s story at all if she had not.

      I have prostituted myself many times as a writer. It just depends on how much you do it. One time I had a piece published that for whatever reason, they butchered when they put it to print. There were spelling and punctuation errors that happened when they copied it over. I was furious and demanded that they re-do it, saying that the piece, as it was, embarrassed me.

      I have been published in CCHR publications and I am not ashamed of that. They appreciate my work, have thanked me, and honor me as a writer and you can’t ask for more than that.

      • So what’s your point? That getting her “big break” is more important than the integrity of the story? Not that she had any real choice if she wanted it published.

        Anyway personalities are not the issue — the point is that by hook or crook the system will frame the narrative to serve its own purposes. It’s not rocket science.

        • I’m just saying, if you wrote a story, and feel that it’s important, and your publisher wants it done differently, you’re going to end up compromising. You can choose. Get the story out there and concede, or walk away and see if some rinky-dink publication in New Jersey will run it. Who has the power, after all?

          • I admire Bruce for finding a publisher whose philosophy agreed with him. Most of us writers are not that lucky. We may send out a piece to 200 publishers until someone picks it up.

            This is why I choose to self-publish. I refuse to be at their mercy.

      • I’m intrigued by what you say about having been published by CCHR, Julie. The Church of Scientology, (parent to the CCHR,) declined to publish one of my vignettes in their publication, just as everyone else had done before I submitted to Scientology. And this is an organization which purports to be rabidly/radically antipsychiatry?! I couldn’t even get them to come to the
        phone when I followed up on my submission with a phone call.

  14. I want to chime in here: There are two major truths that journalists need to investigate and understand.

    1. The diagnoses are bogus and the DSM is not real science. Therefore, all “treatments” are bogus.

    2. The political agenda of the family must be examined. Some families have no idea how dangerous psychiatry is; but others are very aware of this fact and that is why they send their children there (as scapegoats).

          • That may be why Laura’s story is easy for more people to talk about. There doesn’t appear to be any coercion; but that is what makes it an unusual psychiatry story, probably an anomaly.

          • I actually think Laura’s story is very common. Many people become ensnared in the system because they trust that the “professionals” know what they are doing. Once they are in, many are scared into compliance by stories of what will happen if they go off the drugs, and if they do try, no one is there to explain about or help with the withdrawal symptoms. So they start falling apart when they go off the drugs, and it seems that the psychiatrists were right so they stay on for years or decades. It’s not a rare story.

          • The TRUTH matters but no one wants to seriously discuss the truth about how many people are forced to take dangerous, addictive neuroleptic drugs. This is not medicine. These are drugs; and for most people that get them, they are punishment.

          • What about the fear of coercion? How many people in America fear being force drugged by psychiatry on a daily basis?

            I don’t think the New Yorker mentioned this either.

          • I think it is the tale of two kinds of psych patients: the worried well and the coerced prisoners. I say this, having been one of the worried well myself.

            This was not talked about in the New Yorker piece.

          • I think it is more common for people to not find their way out of the psych drug maze.

            It would be useful if we had some data to understand the scope of the problem better.

            Again, what about people in the criminal justice system. How many of them were able to find Robert Whitaker’s books? Maybe some, but probably not many.

          • My comments last night were deleted about:

            I would like to know how many people in the US (and around the world) are force drugged every day?

            Are those statistics available?

            There are many mistakes made in the criminal justice system every day. Forced drugging is probably one of the worst crimes against humanity. And these people are silenced.

            STOP FORCED DRUGGING

          • Very true Steve, as regards the drug withdrawal symptoms.

            I found that when I tried to come off neuroleptics drugs, I had problems with my “head”, that I had never experienced before.

            Ultimately I was able to find a means of coping with these problems – but only through good luck.

  15. Rachel, I’m not sure about pharma, but they always have a small ad for McLean, and usually a couple of other recovery type places, toward the back. The McLean ad is drawn like a New Yorker cartoon. The caption is something like, “recovery from borderline personality disorder is no joke.”

  16. would this be the time that the taboo was broken? And if so, would the dam then break, with articles now appearing in the mainstream press questioning the conventional “disease model” narrative that psychiatry, as an institution, has told to the public for the past 35 years?

    I can’t believe I just read this. Bob, what sort of fantasy are you entertaining? It will take LOTS more pressure before such stories are published — and that’s how this happens, through pressure, not intellectual enlightenment.

    And I am completely offended by this shit about “35 years” — this is a deception that you and many of your colleagues promote, for reasons I don’t understand except that it fits your preferred narrative: the idea of “biological psychiatry” as something new and distinct that just arose recently. As a geezer who was force fed 1600 mg. Thorazine daily over 40 years ago, I guarantee that the “disease model” was quite in effect long before “35 years ago” — in fact Szasz had already discredited it nearly nearly 60 years ago. The mental patients liberation movement had already risen and been stomped down. And being labeled “schizophrenic” was not construed as anything other than being diagnosed with a disease. So what’s up with this?

    • Again, oldhead is right. These facts about the fraudulence of psychiatry were understood many decades before Whitaker appeared on the scene. This is not to say that Whitaker’s efforts are not heroic, or that they are not appreciated. It is simply to acknowledge the fact that Szasz recognized and recorded the truth about psychiatry long before Whitaker was even born, and Karl Kraus did the same before Szasz was born. One thing that we, along with Whitaker, can learn from these facts is that the media gave the silent treatment to Kraus and to Szasz. This is why hardly anyone has heard of them or read their books. This is the same reason why Whitaker’s research is so blithely dismissed by the media. The historical record is very clear: the reason why the general public knows next to nothing regarding the truth about psychiatry is simply because the truth about psychiatry has routinely been ignored and dismissed since psychiatry’s inception.

  17. I don’t know, y’all. When my therapist learned of the censorship I had incurred from the print media in regards to many vignettes I’d written, all of which were rejected by publications large and small, he suggested I write a book instead and self-publish it. Though I had never written a book before, and doing so seemed like an exhaustive, gargantuan task, I went ahead and did it anyway, and had a ball in the process. That was now 28 years ago, and I’m still completely in the dark regarding whatever became of it.

    I do have my strong suspicions about what has happened to that book, though. To begin with, I’m a pretty good writer and when I was writing it, I did so with the belief and intention that it would become a success. It’s been a long time now since complete strangers began to greet me on the streets, (there’s a photo of me on the back cover of every copy.) There’s a distinct possibility that, at this very moment, I’m getting the legal help I need in order to find out eventually what the book’s fate has been. But legal processes take years, and I’m being given no other choice but to wait for the Day Of Revelation. I can’t tell for sure, but I’m convinced there’s a whole crowd of people out there, (including a few at Mad In America.com,) who have all the information about my book which I crave. It’s as if there’s a near-cosmic conspiracy going on to deny me the ownership of my book. I thought I’d already been through plenty in life before I ever wrote the thing. Do I need this on top of it?

    Last summer, I went to the Alternatives conference, as did Mike Finkle from the On Our Own of Maryland organization. Dan Fisher was there too, and I came upon the two of them shooting the breeze over dinner. Mike Finkle is someone who almost unquestionably has the information I’m trying to get my hands on regarding my very own book. All I can say is that for the rest of the conference, Dan Fisher had a look of sheer astonishment on his face each time he looked at me. Another telltale sign? It made my day.

    • Kumin, What happened to your book? It sounds like there was some fiddling on the part of our adversaries into the distribution and marketing of your book, from what you are saying.

      I wrote a book as part of my masters degree program and it did not sell. Partly, this was because I do not know how to sell anything. I should have hired someone. The other part involved some interference by the adversary. They did everything imaginable to discredit me, wreck my reputation, and made selling the book next to impossible. I still have copies and there’s a copy available for download on my website. For free.

      As I approach the time when I will be publishing another book (I’ve written about ten), I plan to do a better job of marketing. My reputation has been partially restored. I am hoping I will not have as much angst over this book than I did with This Hunger Is Secret.

      • Julie Greene, God knows I wish you the best of luck with your writing/publishing endeavors from here on in! I’m glad to see your reputation has been restored! That might help future sales.

        The present publisher of my book has never sent me anything in the way of royalties other than a handful of paltry checks. They’ve never sent me any truthful, accurate sales info. Each time I’ve called there to see if there had been any sales, I’ve simply been told there hadn’t been, which I do not believe. As for problems with, “adversaries,” it’s quite accurate to say that I’ve had those, Big Time! My worst adversary is my publisher, along with Amazon.com, who’s been selling copies of the book for the past 20 years, but who refuses to give me any information about sales. My publisher and Amazon are getting fat off of the proceeds from my book without sharing any of the money with me, or so it seems.

        As I mentioned before, there’s the possibility I’m actually getting the legal help I need to get this all straightened out, and I’m simply not being informed of that. If that’s the case, there’s only one explanation as to why that’s being done to me. I think I know which two lawyers are involved in doing this. These two guys have probably known that it might take quite a while for the legal work to be concluded, (3,4, or 5 years?) Perhaps in the meantime, they don’t want me pestering them with phonecalls (?) Go figure.

  18. I would like to see the numbers of people who have been deceived or tricked into taking the drugs vs. the number of people forced to take the drugs.

    This seems important because both situations are terrible; but forced drugging is the worst of the worst.
    And the general feeling is that both statistics are way too high.

    I also think there needs to be a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the forced drugging of people.
    One thing I would like to see is a change of terms. Instead of calling it “Treatment”, the commission should
    make it be called what it really is: “Forced Drugging”. Instead of the term “criminal justice”, we may was well call it “scapegoating”.

    • johnchristine, How do you know you’re not being forced? Some were literally poked with needles. Others are told “You can’t leave the hospital until you take the drugs.” Both are force. One is physical force and the other is force by intimidation and threats. Bribery, basically. Another is force by lying. “This drug is lifesaving.” And so on.

      • Julie,

        I am against all coercion, including intimidation and threats. I am also against home invasion and torture, every night, which is what I am getting.

        I am against the coercion and deception of “treating” bad behavior as an “illness”.

        I am for truth and reconciliation; and I am for restorative justice.

        I can tell that your lived experience with the system was awful, and I do not want to suffer that much. Your belief in yourself is inspirational; because it is clear that the system did try to destroy your self-esteem.

        John

        • Julie,

          Only very recently have I begun to understand how everything about psychiatry is political; and how the phony branch of “medicine” is used to enforce political ideas.

          How do you know you are not being forced? Oh, I agree that people are forced and intimidated every day by psychiatry.

          How do you know anything about psychiatry? Most of us learn after getting drugged, or after being lied to by the shrink over and over about a phony “diagnosis”. The political part of the diagnosis has real consequences, but there is nothing medical about it.

          • Only occasionally should it be medical, and then, it’s never a psych issue anyway. For instance, thyroid levels being off can mimic depression or bipolar. Anemia resembles depression. Malnutrition will appear to be an eating disorder or can even psychosis. Electrolyte imbalances or dehydration often appear to be psychosis. Psychs love to bring problems that aren’t their turf into their turf. If they had their way, they’d psychiatrize everything, including heart attacks, stroke, natural disasters, and this commonplace thing called a death in the family.

          • Julie

            I had an experience in the hospital where I worked as a chaplain that is a prime example of what you state here. One morning the nurses of the Pulmonary unit where I was assigned called me and frantically asked me to come up to the unit right away. A middle aged woman being treated for cancer was temporarily assigned to that unit because there were no beds on the oncology units. She’d just set fire to the trash in her trash can and was trying to light her mattress and bed linens with a lighter that they didn’t know she had. She’d also cursed her husband of 35 years; sailors would’ve been proud of her because of her colorful language. She told him to get the hell out of her room because she’d never seen his blankytiblank ass in her entire life. She was going wild and they thought that perhaps I could settle her down some.

            We’d gotten the lighter away from her and she did settle down, until her husband appeared in the door again and at that point she cursed him up one side and down the other. The nurses were demanding that she be moved to the psych unit and were trying to arrange the move when her oncology doctor showed up. He squelched any ideas of sending her to the psych unit and told one of the nurses to bring him a large vial of glucose! Everyone looked at him like he was the “crazy” person at that point. He bet anyone five dollars that within one minute of getting a shot of the glucose that the woman would be fine. We all looked at each other with knowing glances waiting for him to be proven wrong. In less than a minute she turned around, saw her husband across the room and asked him where he’d been all morning! Her blood sugar was screwed up! And she was saved a trip down the rabbit hole to the psych unit!

      • So much coercion. In my case (I don’t think it’s unusual), they have so many people on the outside (concerned friends and family) reinforcing the party line. “You’re not feeling well? Did you take your meds today? Are you taking your meds as prescribed? Did you call your psychiatrist/therapist” etc.

    • It seems to me, the ones that are “tricked” fall more into the category of Laura Delano. One of the Kennedy’s was also lobotomized. This went on into the 70’s. Quite a few rich families had one of theirs submitted to such treatment. Well off families who buy into it. The ones that are forced, mostly don’t have a support system. The 80’s wasn’t the start of the bio model of mental illness, it just expanded. Today’s average psychiatrist is no different than 100 years ago.

      • Mental, After you are first tricked, it’s hard to make an informed decision. You may choose to go to a mental hospital for “help,” but after you’re there, and drugged, how on earth can you make a good decision for yourself?

        ECT, for instance, is rarely done by physical force. I have witnessed patients being told they’ll be refused all MH services if they do not comply with shock. I have also seen patients told they can leave sooner if they agree to shock. Meanwhile, we’re held there, drugged and brainwashed until we comply.

        After you walk in, you’re under their spell. After the first agreement, there is no valid agreement, since after the start of coercion or drugging, you lose you ability to choose responsibly.

      • The 80’s wasn’t the start of the bio model of mental illness, it just expanded.

        This is important to keep repeating, apparently.

        Also any “model of mental illness” accepts the premise of “mental illness,” so we need to take out analysis beyond “models.”

    • John, I can’t speak from personal experience. But I imagine court ordered/involuntary would be far worse than my “voluntary” role as a deceived patient. Abusers don’t like it when things don’t go their way. If you are “ungrateful” and “non-compliant” they will take it out on your butt. Which belongs to them.

      “Your soul belongs to Jesus. Your a** belongs to me.” Could have been spoken by a shrink. They don’t want your soul since most are materialists and if they believed in souls would assume the SMI don’t have them like Real People. But they do own your butt quite literally and can get 6 toughs to wrestle you to the ground and inject you with maddening neuro-toxins.

      I had always been a willing patient till my escape. By “willing” I mean I acted on the deception presented as medical information.

      But I knew from the beginning if I were naughty there would be severe punishments. 😛 I mean “treatments.”

  19. RW, I am glad you wrote this. A relative of mine alerted me to the New Yorker article. We both agreed that the article rambled too much. I found it confusing after a while, not knowing what the message was. Was it that mentally ill people, dangerous as we are, might be able to get off drugs at some point? Or was it that getting off drugs was tough but mentally ill people might be able to do it? Neither, to me, says what I’d like to have seen in the New Yorker. I agree that the main point was lost. I suspect this was an editorial move and not the doing of the writer.

    I have seen plenty of people reduce their drugs or even get off of them, but if they are still acting and thinking like mental patients, they are less likely to succeed. You can actually change the way you frame your life and that, to me, is the most important step.

    • Its quite easy for a person to believe in “mental illness” if they find themselves “going mad” when they try to come off psychiatric drugs. Its clear that Laura Delano found a means of coping with the difficulties of psychiatric drug withdrawal, and overcame “Severe Mental Illness” as a result of abandoning Psychiatry.

      • “Its clear that Laura Delano found a means of coping with the rigours of psychiatric drug withdrawal, and overcame “Severe Mental Illness” as a result of abandoning Psychiatry.”

        Many of us can claim this exact same thing: we can get off the drugs, abandon psychiatry, and that is where healing occurs–as opposed to the calamity which psychiatry seems to inevitably offer. I believe this is where numbers can be significant. That is hard evidence that psychiatry places us on a downward spiral, whereas going elsewhere for healing works.

        I know that we all have different approaches to this which work for us, and a lot is yet to be discovered by people regarding their own personal healing path. I know that you, Fiachra, sing the praises of psychotherapy for your recovery, whereas I had to abandon ANYTHING having to do with the mh industry in order to heal. Here in the USA, I find this field to be utterly useless, and only creates problems and more drama and crises for people. Here in this country, at least, this industry simply does not know what it is doing, in my very firm and well-founded (I believe) opinion.

        And they have no ears for critical feedback, none whatsoever. That’s a huge problem, especially when it comes to “the art of dialogue.”

        Regardless, I believe we, ourselves, have proven with our lived experience and all that is possible once DSM/neurotoxins are abandoned and left in the dust, that diagnoses are bullshit, based on subjective and oppressive cultural norms, and that the psych drugs are extremely damaging in multiple ways to the point of being lethal.

        Many of us have gotten away from all of this, and have managed to stay away for decades now, and have, in turn, healed from this and have found our path in life. And that is not without deep reflection about the atrocities which psychiatry has put so many of us through. I know we’ve acquired profound wisdom taking this journey, how else would it serve?

        There is no ambiguity here for many of us, it is clear as crystal that psychiatry is dangerous and harmful, and getting away can be live-saving. Period.

          • Regardless of what leads a person into psychiatry, my emphasis is more on healing from the damage done by psychiatry once we have moved away from it. There is psych drugs damage to heal, and there is also programming to shift and old sets of beliefs to reconsider. That is life changing.

            Once we awaken to the corruption which has plagued us personally, there is a lot of shifting to do. That is a holistic process of healing and core transformation. Big changes occurs here, when we heal from internalized oppressive programming.

          • Yes, seeing through the lies of psychiatry!

            Not recovery or therapy, as these are also based on lies.

            We have to develop and advance a more racial message of total non-compliance.

            How about a card people can carry which claims a religious objection to Psychiatry, Psych drugs, and Psychotherapy. The card issues a strong set of warnings. Invites one to call a number or visit a web site, if they do, they get far stronger warnings, as well as they are questioned about their name and position, and admonished that the call is being recorded, and that they will be named in a law suit, and that they party in question must be released at once, or they will have to appear in court.

        • Alex

          You are so correct when you state that they have no ears for critical feedback. They can’t dialog their way out of a wet, brown paper bag to save their lives because that’s such a foreign concept to them. Not only is it an art, it’s a foreign language!

          I would so love to just smack them up alongside of their punkin’ heads sometimes.

          • Yes, it’s incredibly aggravating. Counseling requires relationship skills, the ability to communicate openly and not out to control. “Controlling” would be the word I’d use to describe clinical dialogue. Truly open dialogue would be a novelty. I’ve not experienced this with most mh clinicians, nor academics. Quite the opposite. It is truly a paradox, deeply.

        • Example of the Art of Dialogue

          Kid: Please quit hitting me.
          Bully: No! Stand still or I’ll hit you harder dummy.
          Kid: Okay.

          Note the treatment modality. He diagnosed the smaller kid as suffering from Dummy Disorder. The treatment the bully elected to use was punching him.

          Trying to leave would mean he was treatment resistant.

        • Thanks Alex,

          The counsellors I was provided with were in training and voluntary which was one reason I think they were so helpful. But I agree that psychotherapy is wide open to abuse.

          In his book “Selfhood”, Medical Doctor Terry Lynch describes how he helps “schizophrenic” “diagnosed” people come off drugs and get their lives back. Dr Terry Lynch’s approach is what I think of as useful psychotherapy.

          • Interesting, Terry is in San Francisco, where I know the mh industry and system top to bottom, and where I so very much would like to see a shift happen, to where the mh industry is not *aggressively* ruining that city, which it currently is and has been for a while now, big time. Maybe I’ll reach out to him, see how he responds. Thanks for mentioning this, Fiachra!

  20. Robert, thank you for taking the time to reflect and articulate so beautifully the ways that Aviv’s New Yorker article failed to capture the issues and perpetuated the mainstream media dodging of the problems of the current psychiatric paradigm. So disappointing.

    I wrote a letter to the editor of the New Yorker which, unsurprisingly, was not published. Since I took the trouble to write it, I am sharing it below, preaching to the choir:

    In “Bitter Pill”, the prominent psychiatrist Ron Pies is quoted as saying, “…most psychiatrists who use this expression”—that the pills fix chemical imbalances—“feel uncomfortable and a little embarrassed when they do so. It’s kind of a bumper-sticker phrase that saves time.” And Wayne Goodman, former chair of the FDA Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee, is quoted as regarding the notion of a chemical imbalance as a “useful metaphor”.

    The casually disingenuous stance represented by the above statements is actively harmful and manipulative, representing a failure of the profession of psychiatry to provide the transparency required for patients to meaningfully participate in decisions about taking psychiatric medications. The idea of a chemical imbalance, though unsubstantiated, is still believed to be literal by a majority of the population and by a great many mental health professionals, slipping under patients’ defenses and providing authoritative leverage for the kind of psychiatric medication abuse experienced by Ms Delano. While psychiatrists may feel “a little embarrassed” allowing the myth of the chemical imbalance to pervade their prescribing practice, credulous patients are denied autonomy to make informed decisions. Patients may, for example, be unaware that by taking an SSRI they are risking a profound loss of the ability to experience sexual feelings and sensations, and for an unknown number of patients this loss may persist after stopping the medications. Or some, despite best efforts, may never be able to stop taking the medications due to intractable withdrawal symptoms.

    If a privileged Harvard student getting the best psychiatric care available believed a chemical imbalance was being precisely recalibrated for over a decade and through 19 different disabling medications, what chance does the average patient or their family have of receiving accurate informed consent? Psychiatric survivors themselves have filled a tremendous gap in public health by bringing every day harms and protracted withdrawal phenomena to public attention. When will the profession of psychiatry, other prescribing professionals, as well as the allied health professionals who refer patients to an opaque and potentially harmful system step up and take responsibility to deliver appropriate informed consent?

    • “A bumper-sticker phrase that saves time.” Or just a bald lie to trick folks into taking drugs and forcing others–including small children–to take them.

      Sickening! Why should anyone trust a doctor who routinely practices this level of deception on his patients and the public? Would you even buy a used car from this character?

    • Velden, your letter to the New Yorker was well written and articulate in describing the calculated and harmful practices of psychiatry. It should have been published. The censorship of psychiatric harm is a double whammy, another layer of injustice.

        • As if the whole nightmare of psychiatry is not horrid enough to then have so many others working to keep it covered up is disgusting. Fairly new to my awakening of what goes on in psychiatry and am still trying to comprehend how deep and insidious this whole fiasco is.

          • “Fairly new to my awakening of what goes on in psychiatry and am still trying to comprehend how deep and insidious this whole fiasco is.”

            Very well said, Rosalee, exactly how I would put it–a deeply insidious fiasco. Sums it up perfectly.

            I had thought at one time several years ago, when I made the film, that perhaps the clincians needed a broader education, based on our experiences of healing outside of the mh industry, and that a dialogue about new persepctives on well-being and healing would begin, opening new vistas, horizons, and possibilities. Silly me, still not fully awake at that time.

            It is after years of participating on here that my eyes opened wider, and I realized that this would never, ever occur, no way no how.

            No shrink will ever learn anything from me nor from those who went through what we did, by their choosing, other than as token, which is how covert oppression works. And if they were to learn from us, we wouldn’t get credit, they’d co-opt the information, as per the norm. This is the politics, which is that of the status quo. THAT’s how deeply insidious this whole fiasco is. I don’t call it “vampirism” for nothing. Exactly what it is, spot on and a textbook case.

            Psychiatry/psychotherapy/”mental health” counseling are based on dialogue and communication. That and the drugs are the foundation of this industry.

            Dialogue? Are you kidding me? How about stonewalling, avoiding, lying, projecting, stigmatizing, extreme defensiveness, shaming, guilting, playing “victim,” gossiping, backstabbing, sabotaging, blaming, twisting words, etc. It’s all one big insidious collage of mind games and betrayal and cover your ass, and nobody wins because there is no truth in any of it, it’s just one illusion and disillusion after another. That’s been my awakening as of late. It is played!

          • Alex, yes to backstabbing, to gossiping, to twisting words etc. You stated it much better than I! It is everything you noted. And maybe the best word of all is BETRAYAL!
            Btw, I watched your music video. Excellent! I’m sure that brought joy to those attending.

          • Thanks Rosalee, I appreciate your kind words! Yes we performed a few times including a holiday show where we featured 40s big band songs from their era, fun for us all and the residents were elated from it for about a week, I heard, which was really cool to know. We screened the film for them and they just loved seeing themselves on the “big screen.” Certainly a nice break for me from all this other stuff! Trying to keep it all balanced…

  21. I am seeing also that the message that one has to recover from psychiatry is not very clear in the article. Of all of life’s challenges, most of us have the hardest time recovering from drugging, labeling, incarceration, and marginalization. Many of us find these challenges to be much harder than whatever struggles we were having that brought us to the MH system. I, for one, am still struggling to get over it, and still have many fears that were caused by the system. Examples are fear of human touch, fear of the cops, fear anything medical, etc.

  22. Thanks for your insight, Julie. I think it will help me to remind myself, “this fear is protective” and I can learn to care for myself better. It’s really helpful for me, at the stage I’m at, to read these comments from you, Alex, so many others…to know that you found a way through it. I have a lot of shame to work through, some of which is “mine” based on hurtful things I’ve said or done, but much that was “put on me” by this system and by family members. Looking back over the past 35 years, I recall so many instances of these two powerful forces working together to scapegoat me. I don’t actually think that they were plotting against me but the way the system is set up, I feel that in many situations my family and the system shared a common goal…to silence me. To make me the problem.

    • This is what Open Dialog from Finland points out; the problem is not in the supposedly “sick” individual but in the messed up relationships that everyone is entwined in where the family is concerned. Families with very unhealthy dynamics often choose one person out of the family who is designated as the “sick” one so that everyone else can escape being responsible for all the unhealthy stuff going on.

      • Stephen, on some level I sort of chose the scapegoat role. I have always had poor coping skills and been too sensitive and cried too easily.

        I wish I had been made of tougher stuff like my siblings. One thing this society frowns on, it’s sensitivity. Be a steel bowl, cause they smash the china dishes.

      • Isn’t that Murray Bowen’s Family Systems Theory? Which I agree with, a scapegoat is created to absolve all other members of the family/community of responsbility for how they are contributing to the collective anxiety. For it to fall on one person is irrational and unrealistic, given that we all affect each other, one way or another. That just cannot be truth, it makes no sense.

        The “scapegoat” is expected to carry the anxiety/blame for everyone, and when that person refuses to do so, things only get worse and the scapegoating becomes more pronounced, often via Munchausen by proxy. Then, the entire system is operating under a stark delusion, and they are spreading the lies, which makes it dangerous for everyone concerned.

        The one who is designated “scapegoat” is the one with the opportunity to make significant core changes to the system, but it is not easy to shift an internalized “scapegoat” identity. Arguing, debating, or trying to use reason and logic with a scapegoating system is exactly like spiiting into the wind, most of us have come to realize this–it just comes right back into our faces. Scapegoating about creating an illusion of power and control over others, that’s the goal. It has nothing to do with reason or fairness or balance or justice. So the shift has to be made individually, and creatively, from the inside, based on reflecting on and being willing to shift our own self-identity and sense of boundaries and what is and is not acceptible to us.

        However, that kind of internal shifting while detaching from the system is what leaves a marginalizing system in the dust and powerless (they have to deal with their own anxiety if there is no one but each other to project it onto), while at the same time, creating a new way of being for the now FORMER scapegoat.

        That would be how systemic transformation would come about, to my mind. Not an easy path, but neither is systemic change, so in that sense, it’s a perfect match. Certainly, neither the abuser/ring leader nor the enablers will step forward, they don’t want change, for fear of feeling their powerlessness. But the “scapegoat” sure would, once they tire of that role!

        I think the “scapegoat” is really the most powerful one in the dynamic, once they choose to relinquish that role. And it takes time to adjust to feeling powerful in one’s own light when coming from a lifetime of feeling powerless, overshadowed, demeaned, and marginalized. That’s an enormous core shift which begins internally, and it will affect absolutely everyone around that person, for starters.

        • Also, I think that a community/group of those who’ve identified in the scapegoating role would be filled with all kinds of truth, wisdom, and new clarity, although I do feel that it would be necessary for people to somehow detach from this identity, or at least be willing to, for the group to maintain a grounded and real sense of power, away from the norm, and to be practical and effective. I say this because it is so easy to scapegoat, I believe it happens way more often than not–it IS the norm!–and I believe that’s at the core of our social issues and systemic abuse. It happens in community after community, seems the most used option for alleviating collective anxiety. But if it falls on one person, than nothing at all is alleviated, and that system becomes totally stuck in bad familiar patterns. That’s a downward spiral in the works.

          In addition, the one scapegoated is the one NOT going by social programming (or at least attempting to not, and struggling with this) and is more creative and independent in thinking, and therefore is poised to make much needed contributions to society at a time that we need new thinking and expanded creativity. Freeing oneself of this identity will allow a person to embrace their uniquely creative selves, despite how others may project their shallow and truly meaningless judgments (if we give them no credence).

          To my mind, for real change to occur, the idea would be to NOT create a scapegoat–yet again–from within that evolved group, which would merely be repeating social abuse. I suggest that we learn from how that felt (which is quite terrible and dispiriting, to say the least, and is pure oppression embodied), so we have deep empathy for this and can therefore be mindful to not make others feel scapegoated or marginalized when frustrations and conflicts occur, and eveyone has a chance to contribute and feel their value in the collective, to maximize the value and functionability of the entire community. Million $ question: can it be done?

    • Kate, I also learned a lot reading comments of others. Difficult family dynamics along with scapegoating, etc is very destructive to anyone at any time but I was blown away to discover (after getting ahold of my health records) that while I was in cancer treatment my estranged eldest sister deviously made calls (first to a Crisis Line then to a psychiatrist) to make up damaging, blatant lies to get me sent to a psychiatrist and put in the psych ward. She did this because she was feuding over family issues and didn’t want to provide any help to me while I was very physically ill (from chemo). Her reason to get me labelled and put in the psych ward was to absolve her of any criticism for not providing help. She is so obsessed with her “image” she couldn’t tolerate anyone might view her as selfish or mean for not helping so instead threw me under the bus with a pack of damaging lies. Psych labels were given based solely on her lies, and the labels and lies published by the psychiatrist to my electronic health records are severely affecting my health care to this day. Once a psychiatrist passes judgement and labels you, no matter how thoroughly it’s proven false, it remains akin to the word of God.

      • That’s awful, Rosalee. I’m sorry. It’s terrifying, and maddening, that psychiatry becomes an enabler in these situations. And the family then enables psychiatry…returns the favor I guess.
        You’re right about the psych diagnosis – how it effects all areas of health care. It took me so long to figure that out.

  23. Tipping points, however tragically overdue, usually don’t result from any single qualitative event, as in even the most devastatingly honest and thorough New Yorker article-that didn’t happen. My point here is what is psychiatry’s tipping point? My guess… long after the most damage possible has been achieved. Is there any mystery that psychiatry and the mental health professions are making the world sicker, exponentially so? I imagine, for a moment, psychiatry having to answer to Congress, perhaps four or so committees. I imagine class action law suits. I imagine a spin-off branch of psychiatry and governing body (as in headed by Dr. Bregin-like minded doctors) from which conventional-historical psychiatry starves to death. I imagine institutions working as the health of its denizens their defacto raison d’etre. But, then, maybe these are a few of the reasons why psychiatry (seems) to have no tipping point?

    • Nothing tips over without sufficient pressure.

      Who does Congress answer to however — why do you think the Murphy/21st Century Cures Act act was passed almost unanimously by Congress?

      And how could you have a “better” psychiatry when the basic premises are all false?

      There’s a definite tipping point, but we have to coordinate the pressure and push together at the same time.

      • Oldhead, part of the reason that Murphy passed was that people were legitimating it by arguing for “Recovery” as the alternative to Psychiatry. But that then also legitimates the perceived need for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy.

        We need a more militant movement with a much stronger message of defiance and FU.

          • Yes, and people need to start understanding that this is all part of something much bigger than merely the distress they feel in their gut when they wake up in the mornings.

            But the opposition to Murphy was slight, and in my opinion ill founded.

            You can argue for Recovery and Therapy, and then pretend that you are arguing effectively against forced Psychiatry.

            You have to commit to disruption and defiance, not be asking for pity.

  24. I still wonder why no one seems interested in the larger problem: that thousands of people are addicted to these dangerous drugs and for most of them, it is punishment.

    But I would like to see the numbers. Does anyone have them? Deception and trickery is terrible; but forced drugging is the larger problem. Correct me if I am wrong.

  25. Great analysis Bob. I too could see that a line was being drawn. The editors want the public to believe that psychiatry is basically good. Just don’t use as much medication for as long as is done and otherwise the great system of mental health care can continue. There are so many layers to psychiatric treatment that it will take more than one article to cause a tipping point of rejecting its fundamental belief. Many critiques from many directions need to continue. And we need to organize and collaborate, worldwide. The economic pressure to keep employment for all involved coupled with big Pharma’s immense interest will keep the struggle going. I believe in years we will slowly wake the public up and other means of assisting one another will take the place of psychiatry: Open Dialogue, Peer respites, eCPR ETC, but we cannot expect one or two articles to win the day. Come one come all to the new, Peoples’ alternatives in dC July 7-11 where we can continue strategizing in person.

  26. so long as you don’t take the “Satanism” too seriously, I say that these people, Satanic Temple, are on the right track. They were giving school children card and getting them to write letters to school boards, proclaiming themselves as Satanists, and stating their objection to corporal punishment. The cards advice the youth facing corporal punishment to call the police, and Satanic Temple.

    And this was being done when often the parents had singed a corporal punishment consent form.

    Should be able to do the same thing about Psychiatry, The Chemical Toxins, and Psychotherapy.

  27. This retort made me feel as if Bob Whitaker made it more about himself with statements like, “But newspapers and magazines have their institutional boundaries, and so I wouldn’t be surprised if the sudden pivot of the article—from a personal article about Laura into one about coming off psychiatric drugs—came about during the editing process, with the LITTLE DIGS AT ANATOMY (Emphasis added) dropped into the piece that way as well.” Bob also notes Aviv’s apparent limited contact with him while doing research for the article, and several times seems to express frustration his book wasn’t more central to the piece. They were gratuitous and unnecessary remarks and began to make his argument sound more like disappointment his book would not get the attention it deserved as a result of the article (sales). At that point, I nearly stopped reading his piece and felt queasy. I agree with Bob’s overall observation about the narrative-factor and tilt and the challenge for the media to get their hands dirty with psychiatry’s realities. But it’s not simply psychiatry as a discipline but also governments and overseers that require a microscope as well! They regulate and pay for drugs. (But that’s for another day.)

    The focus of the article was on one woman’s life so far, and an interesting and dynamic coming of age piece. I was engrossed with it as I first saw a psychiatrist at 13 and then involuntarily committed and medicated at 17. I wanted more than what was there (in the article). I know Laura and we have spoken over the years and been in each other’s company. I admire her tenacity and focus. Because of the “sanitary” narrative issue it fell short as a piece of work that any others of us can relate. For example, does it further or hinder strategies for ‘coming off’? And that is more of a problem with the narrative than if the reporter cited one book or not. The article shouldn’t have been about Bob or his book per se and could have stretched beyond one story especially if it took a year to write (!) (the tokenism is in and of itself a phenomenon the media frequently perpetuates) even though Laura’s story is indeed compelling and inspiring to her peers and others.

      • I agree Dorothy. Everyone harmed by psychiatry should be grateful for the incredible work Robert has done to expose this dreadful situation and his book played a HUGE role in Laura’s story of getting her life back. That pivotal fact should not be hidden or downplayed.

      • I read the article and felt that the bit on Robert Whitaker was insulting to him, and anything but even handed. One could say it called for a reply. While the story revolved around Laura, I kind of thought it sidestepped the doping issue, and dealt rather excessively with Laura as some kind of a poster-board “mental health” “recovery” case. I don’t know how you can list the number of drugs that Laura was on at one time without getting the idea that that was excessive. I also don’t think Laura was unusual in that regard, and this is the point that the author somehow either missed or suppressed. Plus, it doesn’t take a lot of drugs. It’s the whole bio-psychiatric narrative that pushes pharmaceuticals, and that’s a narrative that the author didn’t seem to question to any great extent. She, if you want to have a laugh, consulted Allen Frances for the piece. Allen Frances was downright comical trying to say, on one hand, that some patients needed drugs, and maybe, on the other, that some patients didn’t need so much altered chemistry. I think he came across pretty much like the two-faced drug pushing shrink, and the embarrassed but guilty architect of the DSM-IV, that he actually is.

        • While the story revolved around Laura, I kind of thought it sidestepped the doping issue, and dealt rather excessively with Laura as some kind of a poster-board “mental health” “recovery” case.

          Yes, they always sidestep the issues to focus on personalities, which is why we need to all be capable of articulating the issues and not rely on “stars.” This goes on at MIA as well, every time someone starts into a “not all shrinks are bad” pseudo-argument, which ignores the systemic nature of the problem. It will continue until people get over the desire to see their names “in lights” (or headlines). They set people up as “leaders” so they can then tear them down and hopefully take the movement along with them.

      • There are actually two – one that I missed.

        Under header in article: A Glass Half Full, or Half Empty?

        “Several noted the sly DIG at me and Anatomy, with a text from my daughter my favorite: “I was reading one moment about dinosaurs and the next about how my father has been on a crusade!”” (emphasis added)

        and

        “But newspapers and magazines have their institutional boundaries, and so I wouldn’t be surprised if the sudden pivot of the article—from a personal article about Laura into one about coming off psychiatric drugs—came about during the editing process, with the LITTLE DIGS at Anatomy dropped into the piece that way as well.” (emphasis added)

  28. Ted, let me answer the points you’ve made regarding my article on Linked In. By the way, you and I have communicated before. I once sent you an email telling you that I had seen you at the Alternatives ’85 conference here in Baltimore, but didn’t actually introduce myself to you. Do you remember that?

    You’re one of the few surviving activists of the original mental patients’ movement in the ‘70’s. I’ve paid homage to you for that. It’s obvious from the things you’re always saying, that you feel that the Movement was coopted and ruined after 1985. It’s also obvious that you really enjoyed being a part of what had gone on previously. That makes perfect sense. It was FUN! All of the demonstrations and protest marches of the ‘70’s, with patients chanting slogans in unison and pumping their fists into the air! I’m sorry you weren’t present for the Alternatives ’90 conference, which was held in Pittsburgh that year. As part of the conference, a big protest march was held. I don’t remember the exact number of people who participated in it, but it was huge. I think just about everyone who had come to the conference participated in it, and numerous others too. We assembled up on a hill outside of the immediate downtown area. We then marched into downtown Pittsburgh. Somebody, somewhere, had a megaphone and led the call-and-response chanting. At one point in the parade route, we passed through a short tunnel underneath some railroad tracks. Since we were momentarily in a chasm, the sound of our chants was magnified and reverberated back and forth between the walls! There was such a sense of solidarity, conviction, and authenticity! I had been to many other protest marches before I was ever involved in the mental patients’ movement. But this one was by far the greatest one I’d ever been a part of. We got VERY favorable press coverage from both the Pittsburgh newspapers as well as the Philadelpia Enquirer, unlike the usual lousy shit they’re always saying about us. I’m SO sorry you weren’t there! You would have had a very good time. You may know that soon after that conference SAMHSA, the federal government agency which was funding our conferences, cracked down on us, and told us we couldn’t any longer stage demonstrations at our conferences if we wanted to take any more money from them. So, one of the very nice things about our conferences not any longer being government-funded is that we’re free to have them again. It would probably be a good idea for me to discuss doing that with Dan Fisher.

    But listen, Ted, let’s face it: there’s only so much that protest marches can accomplish. What’s going on today is the REST of what needs to be done. The fervor within the movement back in the ‘70’s hasn’t disappeared. It’s still there, and it always will be. What patients are doing now is IMPLEMENTING the ideals Judi Chamberlin laid out in her famous book. There is a tremendous push going on now, successfully, to compel mental health professionals to accept the validity of peer counseling and self-help. More and more jobs ARE being created now for peers in the mental health system. I know this is what you’ve always thought of as patients, “selling out,” to the Establishment. But listen, what better way is there to fight the stigmatization of us by professionals than to prove to them that we’re far better at helping people than they will ever be?!

    There’s another development going on which I’m REALLY excited about.

    Apparently it has become somewhat easier than it used to be for mental patients to go to school and get college educations, (wish I’d had that kind of luck.) As a result, there are more patients graduating and then going on to grad school. One of these people was a patient named Nev Jones, down in Florida. I don’t know what she’s got her doctorate in, but I know she’s a researcher. She’s spearheading an effort to encourage other patients who are considering grad school to become researchers too, and there’s a very important reason for this. I probably don’t have to tell you that Nev Jones is totally open and public about her status as a former mental patient.

    It’s an established fact that the results of ANY scientific studies dealing with mental health issues which are conducted by researchers who are not themselves former patients, are skewed in favor of the Establishmentarian medical model point of view. Because those researchers have a lot of academic credentialing and respectability, what they announce is instantly believed and accepted by the public. So, the point of Nev Jones’ effort is to accrue a pool of researchers who ARE former patients, to counteract the opportunistic distortions of non-patient researchers. These patients will be able to prove the validity of their differing findings because they will be just as well educated and respectable as those other researchers. There are a lot of great things like this in the works, Ted.

    Regarding your fears about the effect Trump could have on us, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. He may be mouthing silly stuff about putting all of us back in institutions, but he’s far too much of a clown to know how to actually do it. When he makes remarks like that, he’s simply parroting other similar fools. That’s where he got that idea from.

        • Really? I thought Trump thought he was president or something.

          The present mental illness contagion, or mental health treatment consumption contagion if you prefer, we are presently experiencing can only grow with an expanding psycho-pharmaceutical industrial complex. Okay. Give people money, of course, and they’ve got bread on their tables. A career “mental patient”, alternatively called a “peer”, to differentiate them from “peer professionals”, whew. How much garbage do you have to swallow before you choke on it? Mental patients’ liberation exists outside of the mental health system entirely.

          • Trump is a hothead.

            Despite talk of more institutions, in Indiana at least, they are shutting down more state hospitals. My brainwashed friend–a proud “mental patient” was upset when she told me this.

            I think this is a good thing–in some respects. But it may lead to homelessness too.

          • Don’t fall for the line that homelessness is “caused” by closing down state psychiatric prisons. Homelessness is caused by poverty, which is a product of our national wealth being hoarded by the 1%.

            Also unless you consider such institutions as “homes” aren’t people just being shuffled from one form of oppression to another?

          • OH, the fact so many homeless people have psychiatric labels is confusing the cause and effect, IMO.

            It’s hard to find a job when brain damaged from drugs and psycho surgery. Plus not having a job makes you less marketable–and explaining long periods of unemployment as “I was in psychiatric treatment” is not a good idea.

            Not saying group homes are good. But my friend has been drugged and treated like a child so many years she can’t care for herself. Szazs realized this was a problem psychiatry itself creates.

  29. As a feminist, the article turned me off so profoundly, that not only could I not stomach reading it, while I was initially certain it would be significant, I immediately retracted all my shares of it on social media because I couldn’t ethically support it. IMO, it was belittling, trite and embarrassing not only to Anatomy, but in general. An absolute disaster.

        • As far as I can read, I don’t see Judi calling it anti-woman. She’s a feminist. I get her point. Laura could speak for herself or the article speaks for itself with/out flaws but another journalist needed to swarm in and defend his previously written book (Anatomy) because the article written by Aviv, a woman, who apparently didn’t quite do the book enough justice. Meanwhile, I didn’t realize the article was supposed to have that much sun on it, but that’s me. I look forward to hearing more from Judi.

          • Thanks. Of course lots of women call themselves feminist these days, many of whom just want a better deal within patriarchal culture, many of whom continue to oppose patriarchal structures entirely.

            Simply the fact that RW chooses to comment on this would not be sexist in my view if his book is mentioned. There may be more going on behind the scenes here than we are privy to, as the relationship (or former relationship) between Laura and MIA goes back some time.

  30. Bob, wish your considerable journalistic talents would now turn toward the societal issues causing so much increasing psychological distress, including the overuse of medications:

    – inadequate drug testing and misleading PR by Pharma;
    – inadequate insurance coverage that limits psychotherapy;
    – the control of psychiatry and medicine by the payers, causing over a 50% burnout rate in physicians;
    – rapid changes in society and technology leaving many more insecure;
    – a President that is increasing conflict, divisiveness and scapegoating;

    Please consider leaving this “dead horse” for a time and look at what’s causing so many of us to have our souls die.

      • Oldhead: Yes, that’s him… “award winning psychiatrist” Steven Moffic MD. Let’s remind ourselves of the trolling comment he left on Matt Stevenson’s “In Memoriam” page…

        “Maybe if he and many here would be more optimistic about psychiatry, he would have recovered more. It is also crucial to know that appearing much better, as Kermit Cole wrote, can be a clue that someone has decided to commit suicide and is relieved by that. This is a tragedy that perhaps could have had a different outcome with a different view of psychiatry.

        Hey-Hey”

        • While we’re on the subject, it has always seemed to me that there has been a coordinated effort to NOT identify the shrink who wrote the article that triggered Matt’s act of self-negation. I thought there should have been an outcry about this then, and still do. This person should be exposed.

          • Matt might not have killed himself if he had given psychiatry the finger. Thus invalidating the gloomy, hopeless labels that made him hate himself and wish himself out of existence.

            I’m not some DSM label. I’m a human being!

            Rejecting psychiatry’s lies and drugs cured my desire to kill myself.

          • Matt seemed to think I was inordinately critical of him; what I was critical of was how he would always quote psychiatric “experts” to prove his points rather than understanding that we are our own experts. In retrospect I think that, sadly, he proved my point when he allowed some shrink’s predictions about “BPD recurrence” to influence him to the point of suicide.

          • Hi all,

            Steve is taking a couple days off of moderation so I am stepping in temporarily (he will be back tomorrow). I really appreciate the discussion and perspectives being expressed here.

            However, I would like to ask that comments remain on the topic of the article, which is about the New Yorker article on Laura Delano. I would also like to ask that comments remain respectful of Matt Stevenson, whose death has had a huge impact on the Mad in America community and is still a very sensitive topic.

            Thanks very much,

            Emily

          • I corresponded with Matt too, and he was totally committed to therapy and his diagnosis. He lamented that I had not found a good therapist of my own.

            So much of the world is like this, and with their psychmeds, no, I mean psych lethal drugs, too.

            I don’t think disability money is the only hook.

            I think people have just been so harmed. Their social and civil legitimacy has been completely nullified.

            We should not tolerate anything on this forum which promotes, mental health, psych drugs, street drugs, psychiatry, or psychotherapy. These are all deep attacks on the legitimacy of survivors.

            We instead should be planning a broad range of legal and political actions, and in all of these areas. Some are more serious than others, but we still should make some attacks in all of these areas.

          • Watched the video. That was a very weird statement by Warren. “The moment I had feared since he was born.” ?????

            Did he think as he held his newborn, “Oh no. He’s gonna kill himself some day”?

            Is he claiming to be psychic? Or maybe his weird idea caused a self-fulfilling prophecy. Or maybe he was just being a drama queen and made an over the top statement that popped into his head during the interview.

            Rick Warren is nuts. He’s now embraced quantum mysticism. Which is to quantum physics what psychiatry is to neurology.

          • That is often true, parents believe the child will die or kill, or they just want the child dead.

            Like that with Oedipus, it all started in the head of the father Laius.

            https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0143105825/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i1

            In one video, Kay Warren is going on and on tearfully about the psychiatrist who “abandoned Matthew in the hospital.”

            Probably the guy could see that the only thing ailing Matthew was just that his parents wanted him dead.

            Matt was trusting in the lies of Therapy and Recovery, and that can be fatal.

            But in telling survivors that they needed therapy and recovery, he was also abusing survivors. This is how it often goes.

            This is why we have no voices for legal and political redress, only voices for therapy, recovery, and approval seeking

  31. I wonder how Laura Delano is doing in the aftermath of the New Yorker article and these 300+ comments?

    The best I can do to support anti psychiatry is to continue tapering 3 per cent a month of risperidone under the supervision of a “psychiatrist.” My family has been pathologized, psychiatrized, and symptomized for 3 generations. Thanks to Laura Delano, MIA, and the Western Mass RLC, I am the first in the Clan to ask, “WTF?” is going on here?

    Thanks to the MIA comment section for exposing the truth of the articles.

  32. Rachel777: “Rejecting psychiatry’s lies and drugs cured my desire to kill myself.”

    Same here. It took full rejection of “gloomy, hopeless labels” and the insidious “illness like any other” conditioning before I could let go of the deep despair and tentatively start to live.

    I really miss Matt.

  33. In journalism, writing, music, public speaking, anytime you have an audience you must consider who is in that audience. You can tell the same story or deliver the same message but you have to do it in a way that the audience can relate.

    In journalism, you must know the publication’s target audience. An article might do well in one publication, but not another. If I have written something and want to get it published I can send anywhere at random and hope that the magazine accepts it. However, I would be better off looking for a magazine that had an audience that matched the article.

    Nowadays, writing prostitution is quite common to the point where it has become the norm. Write something because it’ll sell, that’s the main mentality.

    I think writers should maintain their own integrity and write what they truly believe in, even if they know their ideas are going to be unpopular. Still, it is a choice. Kiss butt, or be yourself. I fear that too much butt-kissing can be habit-forming.

    Writers are also expected to sell their stuff. Pitching. Ugh. I don’t think selling has much to do with writing. It was truly liberating for me to realize that I could hire someone to do all that nasty selling stuff, so I wouldn’t have to waste writing energy on the marketing rat-race.

    I have hated selling since high school, when our high school band got coerced by a traveling salesman to sell burlap bags as a way of making money for the band. I sold many, walked around various neighborhoods going door-to-door asking for a dollar for each bag, which we would deliver to them sometime in the future. This was something like 1974. A dollar was worth more then. Finally, our bags arrived and we had to distribute them to those who had paid the dollar. The bags were poor quality, pretty much useless items. I was so embarrassed to have to have sold them so aggressively. It has left a bitter taste in my mouth.

    What’s worse, writers have to market themselves these days, not just their writing. This is not the same as self-promotion, but way too close for comfort for me. Too many writers cross the line, getting on Facebook and kissing butt to the masses. No thanks.

    • If you speak the truth long enough and consistently enough sooner or later people will take note. There is nothing to “sell.” As soon as you change the message to appeal to an “audience” you are on the road to selling out, and your former truth has become tarnished and no longer of value. Some call this “practicality”; if so it looks like we’re all fucked.

        • Kate, I just saw this quote “Freedom is what we do with what is done to us.” Jean-Paul Sartre
          There are many stories on this site of those who fought and overcame what was done to them. Also many still fighting (including myself) so never give up and keep speaking your truth. 🙂 

          • Thank you, Rosalee. Okay, I will try to remember this. I know you are right and that’s the direction I need to go in. Sometimes when I think about everything I get angry but other times when I think about what I did I feel very guilty but then I start to think about why I did it and I get angry again. And I’m just trapped in my head. If I could just live outside of my head and outside of these thoughts for a while. I guess I have to discipline myself. Less thought, more action. 🙂

          • Angry is definitely more productive than guilty, but both are understandable and totally to be expected. Unlike what the psychiatric profession wants us to believe, feelings are actually a normal part of being human!

          • Steve, I think there’s a time and place for the emotion of guilt like other negative feelings. Like anger it can be channeled to make us more sympathetic and conscientious individuals.

            Mine was exaggerated as a young adult–leading to a few melt downs. I sought psychiatry out to cure my violent and sexual thoughts. Anger and lust. It replaced guilt with shame. You don’t DO bad things; you’re just a hopelessly bad person who deserves to be flung on the garbage heap. Existence was now a sin.

            Selective bio-calvinism. Only a few are totally depraved due to bad genes/broken brains. There’s no redemption for them, just shunning and torture from the rest of us genetically superior saints. 😛

            Bovine excrement!

          • I concur. Guilt, like all of our emotions, has a survival role to play in our lives. Psychiatry’s first mistake is identifying emotions as being “good” or “bad,” and trying to eliminate the bad ones. Emotions aren’t good or bad, they send us messages about how we are surviving and what we can do to survive better. Learning to listen to our emotions is a part of being a rational human being.

  34. Have to advance an uncompromising Anti-Psychiatry, Anti-Therapy, Anti-Mood Alterants, Anti-Motivational, Anti-Salvation Seeking message.

    The center is not something being advocated as a remedy, as there is no remedy needed, it is just a campaing to put lots of things out of business. It is more important that some things be put out of business than some others.

  35. This as been a very interesting thread to read. The historical aspect of the history of survivors is so important. It needs an almost horizontal graphic timeline to show when and where what happened over the last say 60 years.
    I was not surprised about the article not being perfect. It was what I expected under the circumstances.
    The artistic community is so invested in the use of the system for support.
    One forgets that T. S. Eliot and others broke down and then recovered and lived their lives. Not sure of the extant of involvement he had but especially since his first wife had terrible issues but he had his own and managed.
    Almost every artist creates from seeds or a seed of trauma. And how to deal with trauma?
    Do we a witness to hear our story?
    Do we need a tool box?
    Since trauma has a human bodily component what is it is not possible?
    And do witnesses to folks in trauma need support as well?
    Dialogue though slow and imperfect is the only way to go and I think one of the better ways if we are starting to not think and just feel to have tools to use so that we can opt out and then rejoin the dialogue.
    And yes emotions are part and parcel of being human. We as a species have never figured out fantastic ways of coping with all of them and if we do find a tool or two damn the powers that be snatch them up and hide them or worst of all use the tools for their own nefarious forces.
    I would like to see side by side work.
    So each group can do their best to be heard and deciminate the most powerful needed to be heard information.

        • I have not found that to be true in all cases. I’ve certainly seen many who do, and you may not have encountered any who don’t, but psychotherapists are human beings, too, and since they don’t really have any specific guidelines, my experience is that everyone pretty much does what they think works. Whether they support political activism for their clients is a function of their personal beliefs and goals. If they are a “top-down” therapist who believes that they know best, they can be extremely invalidative. But there are therapists (admittedly in the minority in my experience) who truly do believe in empowerment of the client to be more capable of living his/her life the way s/he wants to, including taking action against oppressive agents if need be. And there are a whole lot who are in the middle, trying to be helpful at they can but not really having a good idea of what they are trying to accomplish.

          As I said before, generalizations about “therapists” lead to mistaken ideas. Not all therapists are alike or believe in the same things.

          • And this is why we should not let our government be issuing licenses. It is these licenses which let therapists be accomplice child abusers, hired by parents.

            If the parents did this with a Fortune Teller or a Channeler, or even a Life Couch, there would be criminal penalties. But the gov’t licensed Psychotherapist, no one gets exposed.

            A Psychotherapist is there to make the patient believe that they need healing and recovery, instead of justice and social vindication.

            Imagine if John Brown took his concerns to a Psychotherapist.

      • Dr. Lee Coleman is a retired psychiatrist.
        Re: psychotherapists – I don’t think they are all the same. I saw two psychologists in my battle for justice and found them to be supportive of my efforts. They gave me letters stating they disagreed with the harmful psych labels I was given and acknowledged the high price I am paying having these labels on my health records.

        • Psychiatrists ascribe to psychiatric ideology and see people’s problems as literally being symptoms of diseases. Psychologists are under no such constraint. “Psychology” refers to the study of the mind, though “clinical psychologists” are basically psychiatrists without medical degrees, who see people as collections of “symptoms” rather than human beings reacting to a toxic environment.

          • They still see placation, pacification, and ideological tranquilization as the objective, and anything other than that they see as pathology.

            If they did not think this way, they could not possible live with being a therapist.

          • Psychologists see emotional issues as evidence of character disorder. Maybe that is not mental illness, but it still comes close.

            The real violation in psychotherapy is that the therapist gets the client to disclose, disclose everything, talk themselves out, but without really being on the client’s side.

            So of course when the client realizes this, they will be livid.

            Freud called this Transference.

            Well today, people are staring to sue psychotherapists over Transference Abuse. That is at least a start.

            All of these things, Mental Health, Psychotherapy, Recovery, Motivationalism, they are all tools being used to create and manage an underclass. So we need to fight back against all of them, particularly those components which have some reliance on governmental authority.