To Warn or Not to Warn? A Critique of MIA’s Use of Diagnostic Terminology


I appreciate Bob Whitaker’s encouraging me to write this essay after I had written to him several times over the years to express concern about how Mad In America deals with psychiatric diagnoses. Below, I will report his responses to my concerns and my replies to those.

I need to begin with some history, so that readers will understand why I feel so passionately about an MIA practice that might seem to some to be relatively trivial.

In 1985, I had been teaching the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as an advocate, believing the advertising produced by its publisher, the American Psychiatric Association, and by its Task Force leader Robert Spitzer, to the effect that it was a scientifically-grounded document. Then, through a series of events described in They Say You’re Crazy: How the World’s Most Powerful Psychiatrists Decide Who’s Normal, in 1988 I accepted the invitation of DSM-IV Task Force head Allen Frances to serve on two DSM-IV committees. In that capacity, over two years I received internal communications, mostly but not solely with regard to the two DSM labels “Self-defeating Personality Disorder” and “Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder,” and through these I was shocked to learn that the ways that “abnormality” and its varieties were chosen and described within the manual were extremely far from scientific (this troubled me all the more because I am an author of a textbook about research methods) and that those heading the Task Force minimized and even denied harm that getting any of their labels could cause. When I utterly failed to persuade them to come clean with the public about the unscientific nature of the labels and their criteria and to warn of the harm they could cause, I felt I had no choice but to resign on moral, ethical, and professional grounds.

Since then, the more I have spoken and written publicly about these matters, the more I have learned two kinds of things. One is that there is a vast array of approaches to reducing human suffering that do not involve calling sufferers ‘mentally ill’ and that are proven to be effective. The other is that I have received letters, email messages, and in-person reports from thousands of people whose lives were variously harmed or ruined and from loved ones of labeled people whose lives were ended due to sequences of events that began with a psychiatric label.

I have called psychiatric diagnosis “the first cause of everything bad in the mental health system.” If they don’t diagnose you, they cannot “treat” you, whatever that means in various contexts. But once they give you even what sounds like the most innocuous label (often Adjustment Disorder is named as the least dangerous), there is almost no limit to what they can do to you in the name of “treatment”… and too often, they escape all accountability because the diagnosing and the kinds of treatment that tend to follow are considered “standard of care.”

Since few laypeople (and even surprisingly few professionals) have any idea about these facts concerning psychiatric diagnosis, when they are suffering and seek help in the mental health system, they rarely even know to ask the therapist such questions as, “Do you have to give me a diagnosis? If so, which one will you be giving me? What steps are you taking to protect me from the many kinds of harm that can result from getting a psychiatric label? If you are going to recommend ways for me to feel or function better, how are you going to decide what to recommend, given that treatments based on assumptions about unscientific categories might help me but might be harmful and might not work?”

Furthermore, the mental health establishment that uses these labels and falsely claims that they are “scrupulously scientific” (in the words of DSM-IV head Allen Frances describing his edition), helpful, and not harmful has vast wealth and media access. Mad in America has reached huge audiences and successfully educated untold numbers of people about the truth, but even MIA and other publications that challenge traditional practices still have a long way to go to reach and persuade as many people as does the establishment.

As a result, when anyone in the few challenging publications uses any psychiatric diagnosis without signaling that they are constructs and unscientific, I feel alarmed for those who will be strengthened in their mistaken beliefs about the labels. An example would be an article about a researcher’s study of “children who have ADHD.” Some people have learned to challenge what the DSM and APA brass claim, but for those who trust that what they read on MIA is far more likely to be well thought out and true and thus not misleading, I am especially concerned about their vulnerability to the reification of the categories by MIA specifically.

There are simple ways to signal that these diagnoses are constructs and unscientific, and over the years, I have repeatedly expressed my concerns to MIA when they publish pieces in which psychiatric diagnostic terms are used without a single mention of the fact that they are NOT scientific, that it is NOT helpful to use these terms when trying to alleviate suffering or help people change their behavior IF THEY WANT TO, and that getting ANY psych label exposes one to a vast array of kinds of harm, and that there are MANY other approaches that do NOT involve pathologizing or drugging and that have few or no risks and are shown to be effective. I have begged MIA to stop this practice and instead, for instance, simply to put all such labels in quotation marks or to include a simple sentence such as, “This is a review of a research report about children who have been given the ADHD label, which is not a scientifically supported entity” or “Our study was of people who had been given the Bipolar Disorder label, so since it is known that this label does not represent a scientifically supported entity, we ensured that our participants all reported struggling with changes in mood they felt they could not control.”

In the June 9, 2019 MIA weekly newsletter, an article is described as showing “how genetic models of ‘schizophrenia’ explain very little.” This is a perfect and very simple and unobtrusive way to solve the problem. And in articles, the first time a psychiatric label is used, it can be put in quotation marks followed by a note that it is in quotation marks this first time it appears in the article because it has not been shown to be a scientifically valid category, but that the reader is urged to think of quotation marks going around the label each time it appears in the piece.

MIA reader and longtime advocate Amy Smith suggests a couple of other approaches: One is to run a succinct header or footer on every page of articles that include mention of psychiatric diagnoses, making MIA‘s positioning clear, and, in her words, “proudly wearing their ideology on their sleeve,” since it is clear from most of the content of the publication’s articles that they aim to publish the truth. Her other suggestion is that for specific articles that are glaring in their use of unscientific constructs, MIA could insert a “Note from the editor” in between the title of the article and the body of the text to make this kind of point as it relates to that article.

Bob Whitaker, who knows I have tremendous respect for his own many scrupulous pieces of research and writing, has replied to these suggestions by stating that he sets the editorial rules for MIA and does not plan to change in response to my concerns. He replied further that MIA has “many blogs published deconstructing [psychiatric diagnoses], and published reviews of articles published in journals with that theme.” Given the overpowering and pervasive extent to which “psychiatric diagnosis as truth” has permeated Western culture and is fast spreading to other parts of the globe, and given that not every reader reads everything published on MIA, I don’t think this is sufficient justification for failing sometimes or at all to implement the kinds of solutions suggested above.

Bob also wrote to me that MIA is using psychiatric diagnostic terms because they signal “societal speaking about this diagnosis that exists in our society, and not because we are saying it is valid.” I find this frankly alarming. There are many terms that, for instance, are sexist, racist, ageist, etc., that either now or previously have been widely used, and the harm that goes with their use is perpetuated and can rub off on readers. In addition, how in the world is a reader supposed to know that in a particular MIA piece, a diagnostic term is not supposed to be thought to be valid if there is no disclaimer to make that clear?

Finally, Bob wrote that “To put quotes around [psychiatric labels] every time just becomes superfluous, and in reviews of science articles reporting on that diagnosis, would just put us in the position of wearing an ideology on our sleeves that would discredit our reviews.” I have two responses to this:

(1) As a longtime editor myself, I am aware that one of the solutions suggested above allows for more editorial elegance than do the others. Fine. I don’t care which solution is implemented when. Just please consistently convey the truth rather than helping perpetuate harmful untruths.

(2) I would think a greater concern about ensuring that MIA publishes credible assessments of scientific research would be not avoiding “wearing ideology on its sleeve” but rather omitting the extremely important information that the studies under review were based on the use of psychiatric categories that have been shown to be unscientific, unhelpful, and often harmful. Doing the latter means that such reviews would include the whole truth, not omitting the parts that someone is scared will make them look biased.

I hope that Bob will reconsider the MIA policy about this matter.


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


Mad in America has made some changes to the commenting process. You no longer need to login or create an account on our site to comment. The only information needed is your name, email and comment text. Comments made with an account prior to this change will remain visible on the site.


  1. Dr. Caplan:

    Thank you for your unwavering support for survivors who have been harmed by pseudo scientific psychiatric labeling. Thank you also for your support of returning Veterans.

    I highly agree with you on the need to report on mental health issues objectively without the use of DSM labels. The medical model had led to a lot of harm and oppression. I am not opposed to the use of the medical model but the default use of medical model terminology in a field as complex as mental health gives the medical model more status than it has earned with scientific merit.

    I prefer the use of disclaimers because often MIA is reprinting articles from other sources. Putting quotation marks around every psychiatric label may present a huge, extra burden on editors and it may even raise copyright issues to alter quotations from other authors who are not affiliated with MIA.

    Report comment

  2. Great blog and I agree with your position on this matter. We are being MORE SCIENTIFIC when we avoid using these labels and/or let readers know they are spurious.

    And I think the exact same argument can be made about NOT EVER calling psychiatric drugs “medications.” They are clearly mind altering drugs that are NOT “medicating” anything at a cellular level, let alone some kind of “disease.” We are being MORE scientific when we refuse to call them “medication.”

    And while we’re at it, let’s be clear about the term “mental health.” (Paula, please take note of this point because you did use this term without quotation marks.) Socially different ideas, thoughts, feelings, and behavior are NOT “sick” or “unhealthy.” We are reinforcing the Medical Model every time we use those words without some type of challenge.

    Let’s be historically clear about how revolutionary change occurs in the world. It often starts with challenging certain language and terminology that wreaks of the oppression of the old order.


    Report comment

  3. You are making a very good point. I think using the word “labeled” rather than “diagnosed” would be much more accurate, because the word “diagnose” suggests something that has a medical test of some kind backing it up. I think a simple change like that would be very meaningful.

    Report comment

  4. And sometimes even more oppressive language comes into vogue in the name of “progress.” But that’s another topic.

    Hard to disagree with any of the main thrust here — MIA should put quotations around all of these terms — “mental health,” “psychotic,” “depression,” all of it. It is irresponsible to do otherwise. Is anyone here going to seriously disagree?

    Report comment

    • That is my general practice, and I think it says what needs to be said. This particular use of quotation marks is meant to indicate that this term is used by others but is considered by the “quoter” to have a different value, and usually indicates a degree of disrespect or scorn for the term. Kind of like saying, “So-called schizophrenia.” I have also used “persons who have been labeled as” when talking about research. This allows us to communicate the intent of the researchers without buying into the terminology. That’s just my personal take on it, but I agree with Oldhead here that the quotation marks are the easiest way to show disagreement while still using the recognized term for those who are new to the idea of critiquing the DSM “diagnoses.” (See, it works!)

      Report comment

      • A almost acceptable alternative would be to say “so-called.” Nonetheless by referring to an implied “it” regardless of the label one validates the existence of a “something” where there is nothing that can be categorized.

        Report comment

      • Steve, There is a big issue I want to warn people about. It’s a social justice issue from a 40 year old person. Something Ive noticed many years. The premise is something that msw’s and lcpc’s praise, however it doesn’t stand on it’s own this premise. The msw’s and lcps’s eagerly anticipate this, however it’s not able to do actually what they say.

        I’m Pat running around and I think a role is that I can share this with my leaders. I don’t jell with people men and ladies so that’s it. Leaders here it is :

        In the year 2065 others ethnic peoples are going to increase as to demographic data and be greater that white / euro American individuals in this country.

        Sera s.e.r.a.ummm her article on FYOG and FMOG got me thinking this premise is gonna get hit. I want to to tell you this Sera and other awesome people. Because if I work on it so much I could be going towards the FMOG philosophy she wrote about

        If I tell you then it can be handled by awesome Earthy people in an Earth sort of way. To work on this ahead and block hits to this premise because of the what it can yield to the world. I want to support my very kind and wholesome leaders.

        ~ Pat

        Report comment

  5. Paula, thank you so much for stating this so clearly! I feel similarly whenever I read a piece on MIA that uses diagnostic language without stating that these labels have no scientific basis. I have tremendous respect for Bob Whitaker and all he has done for our movement, but I completely disagree with his stand on this issue. Continuing to use diagnostic language without critiquing it just because the general public is familiar with it is not a reasonable position. I fail to see how that’s any different from using racist, sexist, or homophobic language because you think people understand those terms better.

    Report comment

  6. I agree 100% with Dr. Kaplan. She doesn’t care, and may even wish I did not agree with her, purely because I am a Scientologist and once upon a time a different Scientologist lied to her.

    However, she is right. Bob Whitaker should give this a closer look.

    Report comment

    • s_randolph, I do hope that what I wrote will be helpful to any human beings. But you misrepresent me by implying that the only reason I totally dissociate myself from Scientology and its so-called Citizens Commission on Human is that “once upon a time a different Scientologist lied” to me. They are dangerous and alarming for a vast number of reasons, some of which I experienced directly and many others of which are well-documented in publicly available places.

      Report comment

  7. How about using the term syndrome at the end of mentioning the name of one of these alleged diseases; e.g. Schizophrenia syndrome, bipolar syndrome, etc. (which these “diseases” actually are)? I realize the hurried writer’s afraid of wasting precious seconds, but the not so hurried reader would like more linguistic precision.

    Report comment

    • With today’s technology we could define someone with a physical brain defect found in a MRI as a patient due to the scientific evidence. The brain damage has to be evident BEFORE psychiatry intervened with its treatments.

      As I am sure you know, psychiatry can predict a horrible future and then makes the horror come true.

      Report comment

  8. Thank you Dr. Caplan. I like your analogy of psych labels as constellations in the sky in They Call You Crazy.

    I see them as libelous slander. Moral judgments against people. Psychiatrists go on TV saying things like, “That mother murdered her two sons because her bipolar made her do it.”

    Great plug for his profession. But it’s a slam against everyone he and others have labeled who do NOT murder small children.

    This used to really bug me, even when I thought psychiatry was real medicine and followed their orders exactly as told. No other medical specialty regularly badmouths its patients. You don’t hear cardiologists telling how those with heart disease are violent. Nor osteopaths saying those with bone cancer are deceitful.

    Report comment

  9. It is such a fine line. Language completely dictates understanding and needs to be respected as such. Terminology such as these diagnostic labels have a medical and scientific meaning attached to them in our society. Using them without clarification as to their true background is to reinforce the miseducation and misinformation plaguing the general population’s understanding

    It seems to me if there are articles on MIA discrediting the diagnostic tradition as being unscientific and frankly false, then the rest of the site should align with the same understanding. I believe a stand needs to be taken in one direction or the other. Being that this publication tends to take a de-stigmatizing stance about “mental illness,” I think MIA owes it to their readers to: 1. be more transparent. 2. continue to crack the stigma instead of reinforce it.

    Personally I believe that the term “mental illness” itself needs to be extinguished and replaced. Categorizing people as “mentally ill” is incredibly harmful and misleading in every respect. The implications are false. The only way to truly change perception is to take back the language. We must change the terminology into something less misleading, less stigmatizing, less reinforcing of misconception, and more indicative of its actual meaning.

    Thank you to Bob Whitaker for being so transparent as to include this article and open up this vital discussion.

    Report comment

  10. Having been on the receiving end from both sides of the “argument”…. it doesn’t work either way.
    A lot of people simply want to call you crazy, meaning it in a derogatory way, and then a lot of people act like they are performing some great act of charity when they see you as crazy and needing help.

    That said, it’s one thing to state the obvious (it’s not a disease, those labels aren’t scientific), but it’s another thing to actually be there for people that otherwise have no one willing to simply hear their story, when you can just dismiss it, or find it intrusive, that WHILE you’re making a political correct statement saying it’s not a disease.

    AGAIN it could be that both sides of the “debate” don’t work. Those saying it isn’t a disease also can be unwilling to go further into what’s out of their comfort zone to be there to understand, or even listen to. Or even really be interested in something that escapes their ability to understand beyond dismissing it.

    Report comment

    • What about those who say there is no “it” to begin with? You need to back up with specifics your accusations about what people supposedly are “unwilling” to consider before making such generalized statements.

      There’s no true “debate” on this stuff, just waiting for people to catch on, and catch up.

      Report comment

      • EXCUSE ME, but this is EXACTLY what I was pointing out!

        Only critiquing “psychiatry,” does not magically make you able to understand someone in true distress that needs another to listen to them, in fact it can be exactly the opposite.

        Perhaps even the “psychiatrists” needed someone to listen to, somewhere back in their youth before they started making alliances with whatever gave them a false sense of power in trying to compensate for losing themselves in such, to begin with. The same for criminals. The same for every fascist leader people think they need the very materials used against them in order to eradicate, as if it’s not believing you need such “materials,” to maintain “justice,” with the excuse to control others with intimidation and violence (and jails and militaries).

        I also did not make any “generalized” statements. That’s you, as if I was saying something I wasn’t and didn’t. What I said was: “Those saying it isn’t a disease also can be unwilling to go further into what’s out of their comfort zone to be there to understand, or even listen to.”

        If that’s not true than everyone against diagnosis magically knows how to relate to someone in trauma, understanding what they otherwise would dismiss as what they can just dismiss. That’s simply not true, neither is it what it’s about.

        What’s probably most certainly true is that someone who stands up against diagnosis is much more likely to be able to help, but that isn’t at all always the case, and might be EXACTLY what’s missing. And it doesn’t have to do with numbers either, because just ONE person believing that everything anti-psychiatry can help them, and then finding themselves in the lurch is enough; NEITHER am I saying that psychiatry is then magically going to help them, it’s something beyond EITHER “label.”

        Perhaps you need to get over labels.

        Report comment

        • Only critiquing “psychiatry,” does not magically make you able to understand someone in true distress that needs another to listen to them, in fact it can be exactly the opposite.

          Who ever said it does? Critiquing psychiatry is done for the purpose of understanding and defeating it, not “improving” it or competing with it.

          Talking about helping people is always nice, but it is largely irrelevant here. Psychiatry is not about helping people but controlling them; a major part of this is convincing people that there’s something literally medically wrong with them, and calling these demeaning labels “diagnoses.” The collectively disempowering effect of this may well be more catastrophic than all the drugs combined.

          Report comment

          • “Psychiatry is not about helping people”
            THAT makes pointing out what helps people irrelevant here!?

            That’s exactly my point again, that what helps people is pushed to the side to fight some war.

            That’s also exactly how psychiatry cons people into their grasp, someone who has been traumatized doesn’t need such irrate demands that “if you’re not fighting my war you’re irrelevant, not helping etc.”

            Someone who’s traumatized has had enough war in their life, and then they’re conned by the drug company commercials with their soft music and portrayals of “happy” people.

            I have better things to do than having what I say turned around and warped because I’m not taking up your banner and fighting a war, and then have to try to straighten out what I said in the first place to have it warped out of context again with the addendum that I must be fighting a war or it’s not what it’s about, irrelevant or not constructive.

            When someone shows that there is healing, and that it works, that makes change because it opens up a real solution.

            Wars will never do that.

            And with all the hostility towards anyone not playing pin the label on psychiatry there’s a lot of hostile, self righteous activity on this site that gives the drug companies and psychiatry exactly what they need to keep fooling people who have been so traumatized that they can’t deal with more demands that they fight some war.

            And you’re not helping get rid of psychiatry is the response when people aren’t fighting this war that is giving the drug companies exactly what they need to con people in with their deceiving commercials, and that’s what maintaining psychiatry. Which you demand more of saying it’s necessary to get rid of it.

            I heard a talk Peter Breggin gave about ECT for example, and he says things like: “THAT’S RIDICULOUS,” stressing how bad he thinks it is, and then gives really cogent information, which by then falls short because of his tone.

            Then the psychiatrist giving ECT in a very careful, even scared, neutral tone relates what really doesn’t add up when you take perspective on it, but it might make people think it sounds like it works given her tone and lack of hostility.

            Report comment

          • Hugs Njinsky.

            We need less emotional PSAs perhaps. But the pro psych side has plenty of emotional stuff too. Crime dramas. A lot of NAMI stuff. Books like Crazy. And don’t forget the way Tim Murphy exploited those grieving families to get what he wanted.

            Report comment

          • Rachel777, there’s no place to respond directly to your response, so I’m responding here (while responding about where one can respond, which I hope ends up in the right place of the pond and doesn’t sink out of context).

            But could you expand on what you mean by “emotional,” because responding in a gentle way doesn’t make it less emotional. I find that there’s more emotion there, and it’s more flexible.

            It’s can be overwhelming to try to respond to the propaganda, the assumed ingrained beliefs, the whole framework of constructed method where when there’s more of a problem it’s decided that you need more action to stop it, regardless of whether that action to stop it is causing the increase. After awhile you can’t keep all of the corrupt logic straight, don’t know where to start responding, and are so overwhelmed that you HAVE TO have extreme patience, and can’t respond anymore but with the gentle emotions that allow for the flexibility to have anything cogent to say. But that isn’t unemotional, that’s actually allowing emotions the space to really be free.

            Report comment

          • No, that’s not completely what I meant. Because you again insert degrees of difficulty. If you would simply allow yourself to feel your emotions rather than using that word to describe reactionary behavior, then your emotions would be allowed to work for why they are there. I was addressing how you defined “emotional.” And you define the other side as responding with emotions, when in reality they are responding by being brainwashed, and it’s a lack of emotions rather than being emotional. They can’t feel that what they are going on about isn’t right.

            Do you see you are actually diagnosing emotions?

            Can you not do that?

            Report comment

  11. I feel as if there should be an MIA disclaimer at the head of any article crediting psychiatric diagnosis with any valid basis in science. It’s just not there.

    Bogus diseases make for bogus treatments, but treatments with real consequences. Treatments that would pretend to be helpful but that are actually harmful. We’ve got other words for these bogus diseases and their equally bogus treatments: fiction and fraud.

    Competition among the various label and drug sellers is how the “mental health” system expands, even when the label and drug seller claims to be “critical”. Telling the truth, in this instance, would require some kind of disclaimer, these views are not held by board members of MIA, etc.

    I’ve got a book on quackery that includes a few psychiatric treatments starting with bloodletting, blistering, emetics, laxatives, purges of all sorts, spinning chairs, and including later developments such as psycho-surgery and insulin shock therapy. Look closer, and I think you’d have admit drug therapy, talk therapy, and ECT, or just about anything pertaining to the field of “mental health” today.

    Report comment

    • I feel as if there should be an MIA disclaimer at the head of any article crediting psychiatric diagnosis with any valid basis in science.

      Good suggestion, though I think you mean something more like “disavowing” than “crediting.”

      Report comment

          • How so? I think it makes perfect sense grammatically. If a person credits something with an existence for which there is no evidence, they are crediting it with that existence. If a person disavows something, they are saying that something has no credible existence anyway. If it has no credible existence, no need for a disclaimer.

            One problem with psychiatric labels is that such labels have served as an excuse to treat people with drugs and electrical shocks, drugs and electrical shocks that have resulted in much iatrogenic (physician caused) damage, up to and including death. The surgeon general has a warning printed on every cigarette package about the dangers of smoking. Wouldn’t it be wiser, in the case of psychiatric labels, to offer such a warning about the unhealthy treatments that all too often commence with just such labels. This, in effect, is what a disclaimer would be doing, affirming the dubious nature of the labeling that has served as a springboard for so much physical injury.

            Report comment

  12. The concept of using label versus diagnosis is brilliant.
    The other aspect which Paula and others have not mentioned is the economic weight of so called diagnosis or labeling.
    In education and in the insurance world both public and private each label or fignistic entity carries financial weight.
    Institutions in order to make money or save money monitor this very closely.
    The other problem is there are legitimate medical disgnosises.
    I do not know how comfortable or uncomfortable folks are with legitimate medical labels.
    An amputee is an amputee there is no way around it though as traumatic as it is there some would say a great grief and period of real adjustment that could be life long. Depends because everyone is different.
    I would guess the issue that stands out for these folks is the concept of phantom limb pain.
    For along time it was not considered real. And some had it some not so like side effects of chemical treatment it had brought to the forefront of medical help.
    How did that process play out?
    The term chemo therapy should also be thought on. In its use side effects are considered real and some considered dangerous. Why such a divide?
    Chemicals are chemicals so any chemical given to humans should be termed chemotherapy implying not only real risk but real side effects.
    When folks move beyond stress to crisis or when one experiences altered mental states through substances or some experience there should be some lexicon. I have not figured out how to handle this.
    Then the poor to abusive treatment those of us who were in crisis or asked for help creates a new lexicon.
    Some folks got lucky and were helped but too many were hurt and though dealing with the double dipped situation has been difficult to say the least
    I find more support with the survivor concept than anything else. Walking through the fire seems to be the best metaphor. And that takes into account the time factor and back and forth recovery process.
    Ultimately metaphors and similes need to be agreed on throughout all the systems. That or a visual type of image.

    Report comment

  13. Thanks for this article, Paula. I think you make important points, and I am glad that you and Bob have opened up this topic.
    My own view is that the only consistent and scientific approach is to indicate the problematic nature of these categories whenever they are used. This is sometimes a little clumsy – but challenging our language is the first and necessary step in challenging our (and others’) thinking. Uncritical use of diagnostic and related terms (‘symptom’, ‘treatment’, ‘prognosis’ etc) limits our critiques and implicitly reinforces the status quo.
    There is a precedent that might be useful. A few years ago the UK Division of Clinical Psychology published language guidelines that, in theory, apply to all its publications. They suggest various ways of avoiding the trap of assuming the validity of unscientific constructs. The editor of Clinical Psychology Forum supports and upholds this policy. It caused a ludicrous fuss on social media when it was first published – which is interesting in itself, of course, and shows how changing our language is intimately tied up with changing power structures – but has not been particularly problematic to implement. The link is here:

    Report comment

  14. I agree that some sort of indicator regarding the lack of validity and reliability about such constructs would be useful.

    I think for people just lifting the veil on what they have been educated to believe about human suffering reading headlines asserting this or that mental illness can be very confusing.

    I would also really like to see a collaborative piece written by suffering people and professionals discussing or listing all of the harms hinted at in his article and to include what benefits there are.

    One of the benefits or perverse incentives at least here in the UK is to identify yourself as mentally ill because in an age of austerity, cut backs, and a public humiliation system otherwise knows as the benefits system, it actually pays to self identify as mentally ill – how utterly twisted of the powers that be to create a system whereby people need such harmful illness labels in order to cling to what little social support they can with the threat of it being taken away always with them.

    Report comment

  15. A very good and important point by Dr. Caplan. Coming from the discipline of educational science (not educational sciences), MIA has always felt a bit reinforcing of a given language and focus on medical and psychological approaches to human challenges, despite the existence of a long and rich history of educational and philosophical, among others, approaches. For ‘suffering’ does not need to have with health to do but can as much be ‘an’ educational prerequisite for the ‘flourishing’ of human beings (Guffey, 2017), given that one takes the position of Socrates (Levin, 2014) that health is not the highest good: “Suffering is pedagogical; it teaches virtue. Suffering, in short, teaches one how to endure” (Guffey, 2017, p. 225). This imply that different languages exist for the same phenomena, leading to different interpretations and utilizations of experiences, and this is often not perceived as clearly reflected on MIA. So, a more careful and conscious use of language as Dr. Caplan argue for, would be a great improvement of MIA.

    Guffey, A. R. (2017). Job and the “Mystic’s Solution” to Theodicy: Philosophical Paideia and Internalized Apocalypticism in the Testament of Job. In K. M. Hogan, M. Goff and E. Wasserman (Eds.), Pedagogy in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity. (pp. 215-243). Atlanta, GA: SBL Press.

    Levin, S. B. (2014). Plato’s Rivalry with Medicine: A Struggle and Its Dissolution. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press.

    Report comment

  16. Thank you Dr. Caplan, especially as an insider, for speaking the truth about the scientific fraud of all the DSM disorders. I was taught on this sight, by survivors, to put all the DSM stigmatizations in quotes, so largely do.

    But then again, those comments could some day all be easily deleted from the internet, given the huge internet censorship that we’re all now dealing with, so maybe Whitaker’s refusal to do so, may have some wisdom?

    I do appreciate you, as a professional, pointing out “the extremely important information that … the use of psychiatric categories … have been shown to be unscientific, unhelpful, and often harmful.” I, for one, found it extremely harmful and depersonalizing.

    I frequently remind people that the head of the National Institute of Mental Heath confessed to the invalidity of all the DSM disorders in 2013.

    Especially since the majority of our “mental health” workers are – bizarrely – still utilizing the debunked DSM stigmatizations. They can’t seem to get it through their thick skulls, that when the head of your industry confesses to the “invalidity” of your entire “bible,” you need to throw your “bible” away.

    I spoke with a teacher of the DSM recently, and her defensive claim when I pointed out Insel’s comments was, “He’s just one person.” But Insel was not alone in his condemnation of the DSM stigmatizations. You point out:

    “the mental health establishment that uses these labels and falsely claims that they are ‘scrupulously scientific’ (in the words of DSM-IV head Allen Frances describing his edition)…[have] vast wealth and media access.”

    And even Allen Frances did eventually confess in 2010, “there is no definition of a mental disorder. It’s bullshit. I mean, you just can’t define it.”

    The DSM is “bullsh-t.” The DSM disorders are stigmatizations, not “diagnoses.” I hope my chit chat with that DSM teacher might have frightened her enough to do some research. But “red pilling” people is hard, and you don’t see the results right away.

    But maybe it planted the seed of doubt, I have no doubt my concerns were distressing to her. And the seed of doubt needs to be planted, when it comes to belief in the DSM “bible.” Especially by those teaching that debunked “bible” in a seminary school, whose solutions to life’s problems are the utilization of “Pharmakia,” which the Holy Bible forewarns against.

    And I do agree, warning people about the fraud and harm of the “invalid” and “unreliable” DSM stigmatizations is important. Thank you for pointing this out.

    Report comment

    • With regard to what you said about Allen Frances saying psych diagnosis “is bullshit,” (1)If you look in Gary Greenberg’s important and fascinating book, The Book of Woe, you will see that Frances was enraged that Gary made it public that he had said that, and (2)Frances has repeatedly ALSO said that HIS (only his) Task Force’s work on the DSM was “scrupulously scientific,” something I, having been on two of his committees before I resigned in horror at how they operated, can attest could not be farther from the truth. Hmm, what to make of Frances saying two totally opposite things about psych diagnosis…and having the nerve to title his absurd book about it, “Saving Normal,” when he more than anyone in history was responsible for a greater increase per year in DSM categories (even more than in DSM-5) and has continued in many ways to reify categories of “mental illness”?

      Report comment

      • Hi Paula,
        Yes I think people are mistaken about Allen’s words. Those words of his were only said because of disagreements with his peers. Possibly because he wanted full or more control.
        His leaving was personal, not anything to do with clients.

        Report comment

  17. This discussion makes me question other terms such as “community policing.” What it means to me is mob violence; but to others it is a good thing. Who in the community gets to play police officer? What kind of harassment does he/ she get to do? From my experience, it is almost unlimited intimidation and hatred pointed at the condemned person, who has never been to trial and is a TBI survivor. Do community police ever discuss what it means to be a TBI survivor? I doubt it.

    Report comment

    • You get your label and then you get your lifetime of punishment. How is that for “mental health”?
      Not very good.

      All of the DSM labels are derogatory as far as I know. The DSM has purposely or accidentally created
      thousands of scapegoats.

      “Community policing” as I understand it is about chasing scapegoats wherever they go. That is not progressive or democratic. It does make the community feel involved; but, as I mentioned before, so did the lynch mobs. That is to say, community policing, in my experience, is draconian and fascist.

      Report comment

          • Yes, even worse than “mental health” for sure. Along with all the psych grads MIA should retain at least one linguistics expert (or a poet laureate) who could continually remind us that metaphors are not real.

            Report comment

          • What they’re really talking about is behavioral modification for this is what is behind so much of what goes on in psychiatric institutions these days in the so-called quest for “behavioral health”.

            Pavlov and Skinner would be proud of what happens to people in these places. This form of “treatment” infantilizes the people receiving it. And the clinical staff never even come close to realizing why people hate it so badly. It’s demeaning and disrespectful and puts one at the level of Pavlovian dogs taught to salivate at the ringing of a bell. Even people who are in other realities know that something is wrong with this. And, after you’ve been in these places enough times you’ve seen and experienced everything that they can do to you and the “rewards” you’re supposed to earn lose their power over you, if they ever had any power in the first place.

            I had to laugh one day when I heard a psychiatrist ask a “patient” why they weren’t compliant with the “program of treatment” based on getting “rewards”. Didn’t the “patient” like the rewards? Talk about talking down to someone. Actually I laughed when the “patient” responded and said, “I’m not here for all of that. I’m here to find some balance again in my life so that I can get the hell out of here and get back to doing what needs to be done outside!” Obviously this wasn’t the correct response and the “patient” ended up spending a long, long time with us because they refused to lower themselves to salivating upon command.

            Report comment

        • Yes, and while we talk about behavior, let’s acknowledge that bad juvenile behavior may result from TBI, gas-lighting, name calling, and overall victim blaming.

          If your friend runs over your child in the driveway (perhaps after drinking), don’t blame the child. Don’t transfer your guilt onto the child. Be responsible for your own negligence (which by the way is a kind of inactive behavior–the parent did not protect the child from the car).

          Report comment

          • To warn or not to warn: This will be difficult because everyone is living in their own bubble of misinformation.

            How to get through to the black sheep of the family, aka the family scapegoat who is vulnerable to being ushered in for a phony “diagnosis” by his own family.

            First, somehow, that person has got to realize that he is in a political
            situation–not a medical one. He has to discover that his friends and family are not his allies anymore; and that is a very difficult situation to understand if you have been gas-lighted for decades.

            Yes, there must be a warning; but how do we break through all of the propaganda and misinformation that is already dominating the media? There are only a few truthful news stories that get close to the truth of the matter: there is no “mental illness”– only social communication problems.

            The FDA is not about to issue a warning any time soon. The drug companies, of course, will not issue a warning. The media is very reluctant to telling the truth, since they depend on drug company money for income.

            How is the truth going to get out? MIA may be on the right track; but, as has been noted, there seems to be pressure on MIA to hide the whole truth. It does seem to strongly question psychiatry and to reinforce it, simultaneously, which can be confusing.

            Report comment

          • Speaking about behavior, I should elaborate. People who have been scapegoated know that childhood trauma probably had a lot to do with their own bad juvenile behavior. Oftentimes, the trauma was a direct result of parental negligence. It was for me.

            As a parent, being responsible for your own negligence might mean taking your child who has been run over in the driveway to the doctor to have his injured skull examined. Don’t be surprised if the doctor tells you your child suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury, (because you the parent were negligent). If this indeed happened, my parents never told me.

            You the parent know there was a lot of blood and his skull was cracked in several places. Eventually, as the child grows up it would be responsible behavior for the parent to tell the truth to the child about the accident.

            Don’t tell the child he is ambidextrous when he asks you why he throws a ball right handed but writes left handed. (This happened to me). Tell him the truth: that he was brain injured in 1966 and you the parent were at fault. This would be a very good time to apologize to the child.

            Also, don’t tell the child that the accident was his own fault when he writes his fifth grade autobiography (This happened to me). This is a flat out lie. Tell him the truth that the accident was your fault because the child was only 18 months old when he got run over.

            Report comment

        • And while we are on the topic of behavior, there needs to be an objective view of the home invasion and torture that is happening to me every day. The behavior of the criminal justice system is outrageous. People know this. THE BEHAVIOR OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IS OUTRAGEOUS.

          Report comment

          • Sorry, I forgot to put my quote marks around “criminal justice”; because what we are really talking about is scapegoating. In other words, framing/ gas lighting / conspiracy / cover up . This is not justice. This is protecting the negligent person who allowed her toddler to be run over in the driveway.

            Report comment

  18. I completely agree with this article. Since we’re dealing with purely arbitrary/subjective value judgments and perceptions, I would add that MIA shouldn’t have research or science departments; you can’t beat something by joining it – by doing so, you’re legitimizing it. And I offer that we devise a replacement term for “mental illness” which conveys why this concept was invented: perhaps “justification for sedation” or “medicalization of life” or “scam for accessing insurance cash”?

    Report comment

  19. I don’t believe in “Schizophrenia” or “Bipolar”.

    An anxious persons brain will always tell them the worst thing is going to happen, and countless people deal successfully with “hallucinations”.

    The British Psychological Society claim they can accommodate “schizophrenia” and “bi polar” in the same way that they can accommodate “anxiety” and “social shyness”. I know myself, that the BPS is telling the truth because I recovered from “schizophrenia” and “bipolar” in 1984, as a result of discontinuing “medication” suitable for these “disorders”.

    When I went to see the last “surviving” doctor from my 1980s past (now an acclaimed UK Psychiatrist) he reassured me that he was very confident that I had been Originally Misdiagnosed (and Mistreated).

    My historical Records from The UK Maudsley Hospital/Kings College and Galway University Hospital Ireland are rotten, and obviously so.

    Report comment

  20. Thank you, Dr. Caplan; this excellent post is a valuable community service. I also want to thank Robert Whitaker for his support in its publication as well as his extremely valuable community service.

    However, I believe that Dr. Caplan misunderstands MIA and its policies. Whitaker’s comments in this article and the MIA mission statement are extremely critical of psychiatry but do not describe psychiatry and its DSM as lacking fundamental legitimacy. Consistently, Whitaker is quoted as saying that MIA uses common diagnostic terms without intending to support their validity; he does not say that diagnostic terms completely lack validity. The myth of “mental illness” is a classical paradigm with deep roots; we should expect quotation marks around “psychiatric disorders” in the introduction to the MIA mission statement before expecting quotations in their blog postings.

    Report comment

  21. the ” ” around so much gets cumbersome, but…what’s the alternative, really? to be fair to the many contributors to MIA, this place represents ideology and positions running the spectrum from ‘reform mental health, inc.’ to ‘abolish mental health, inc.,’ with (predictably) a whole lot at various points between those two poles. and yet…

    with all due respect to the ‘reform’ camp, callling distress and reactions to oppression, poverty, anomie, etc. ‘depression’ or other sorts of ‘(severe) mental illness’ is not bad or wrong because it ‘rubs me the wrong way,’ or even because it ‘doesn’t fit in’ the new(er) discourse, but rather…

    the dsm/icd classifications are not based on fact. how’s that for ‘reality testing,’ y’all? 🙂

    Report comment

  22. I am listening to all these comments, and will write a blog in a couple of days to present MIA’s stance on this (and thus my editorial decision.) I don’t think it is being particularly well understood through this reflective prism here. But for now, I just am going to listen to the comments.

    Report comment

  23. James Hillman is the only one man alive who knows what lies beyond an empty psychiatric nominalism/jargon.
    Read his revision of psychology, so you will know. It is worth to know the real meaning of depression, psychosis, all the psyche. The psychological, phenomenological meaning. We just do not know about this, because that knowledge is hidden. Psyche has been stolen form us.

    It is all about the language that we are using. The better language we have, the better we are.

    “Depression is still the Great Enemy. More personal energy is expended in manic defenses against, diversions from, and denials of it than goes into other supposed psychopathological threats to society: psychopathic criminality, schizoid breakdown, addictions. As long as we are caught in cycles of hoping against despair, each productive of the other, as long as our actions in regard to depression are resurrective, implying that being down and staying down is sin, we remain Christian in psychology.

    Yet through depression we enter depths and in depth find soul. Depression is essential to the tragic sense of life. It moistens the dry soul, and dries the wet. It brings refuge, limitation, focus, gravity, weight, and humble powerlessness. It reminds of death. The true revolution begins in the individual who can be true to his or her depression. Neither jerking oneself out of it, caught in cycles of hope and despair, nor suffering through it till it turns, nor theologizing it — but discovering the consciousness and depths it wants. So begins the revolution on behalf of soul.”

    James Hillman

    Psychiatric jargon is useless and it is a weapon against psychology. DSM is just a form of demonization or condemntaion of the psychological reality.

    Report comment

  24. I don’t think MIA posts or articles should use diagnostic terminology. In my own posts I do my best to avoid it. When I have to use it, I also do so in a way which makes it clear that I do not go along with it, and that I urge no one to ever cooperate in any way with such.

    I consider it to be immoral to use mental health questionnaires.

    Generally it is considered immoral to use data from the Nazi medical experimentation. I see it the same way for mental health questionnaires. They are a coninuation of the eugenics movement. Even if someone else administered them, I say that no one should be writing or publishing articles which use their data.

    In administering such questionnaires, sufferers are being exploited. They should be getting taught not to ever comply. So hence, articles written or published which use the data are immoral.

    Report comment

    • Hi pacific dawn,

      This is in reply to your comment about kibbutzes, which I place here simply because there is no reply button under certain nested comments.

      It’s weird, I have a gut reaction about kibbutzes (which spell-correct keeps charging to kibitzers!) largely because of Israel’s policy of taking Palestinian land, which is not a subject to bring up here. However, coming from a home where I grew up wanting only to go to boarding school or be sent to an orphanage, or (knowing as a child nothing about foster care abuses) even a foster family, I am in agreement about how most parents are woefully inadequate at best. And with the notion that many to most parents treat their children as property. I don’t know that older children raising younger children as in the case of, say, the imprisoned immigrants who have dared to try crossing the US southern border, is the solution. I know when I was a child, however, that as the eldest, bearing a good deal of the burden of abuse and abusive expectations, I longed fervently for anyone older than I was to “help” me, to explain things to me, to listen to me, to take some of the burden of being the eldest off me. I wanted even more than a better parent an older sister or brother…And like most young people with Jewish parents (or parent) in the 60s I too wanted very much to live in a situation like a kibbutz…In the end, i accepted that as a child controlled by her parents, I had no choice and in my case absolutely no say in the matter.

      I dunno what the solution is, but I doubt highly that at least in the US parents will ever willingly give up control of their chattel, whoops, children, to the state, or to any organization. We are stuck with parents being the main rearers of their offspring, I suspect. The WordPress blog, Abuse with an Excuse, written by Jeff McGuire, has many other ideas for how to make parenting less dangerous, or even benevolent, starting with stopping the widespread abuse known as punishment. I think parents need formal education and if they have been badly indoctrinated in traditional ideas of child rearing as helpful abuse, REeducation, before they are permitted to have or raise children. As someone who has been enormously helped in later life by a “therapist” who practices NVC (Marshall Rosenberg’s NonViolent Communication) that — NVC — would be the best place to start.

      Report comment

  25. a problem with not using the labels is that the lables have power, social meaning, and I thnk not using them, oddly enough, disempowers us (again, for a lot of us). example…

    ‘schizophrenia’ drugs tied to reduced lifespan

    what’s the alternative? the ‘ ‘ allows the critics and survivors to engage the mental health industry using its own vocabulary. the ‘ ‘ is a quick way to start the debunking from the headline, onwards. of course…one could try

    neuroleptics reduce lifespan

    which is true, but even medical articles often use the term ‘antipsychotics’…its a thing, now. and for people just dropping into mia, the 1st title makes the information more accessible.

    Report comment

    • I heard a person refer to neuroleptics as psychotic drugs once, and I think that was entirely appropriate as the drugs seem to impede a person’s capacity to fully “recover” from their, let’s say, out of this world experiences. Why does anybody call them “antipsychotic drugs” then? Obviously, the better to sell you toxic substances with, my dear. Psychiatric drugs are an oil field, a gold mine, or a winning lottery ticket, that is, moolah, much moolah, in the bank.

      Report comment

      • 5% of the UK population is now “Severely Mentally Disabled” and surviving on “Severe Mental Illness” Disability Benefit, and I would definitely say that the majority of this disability has been caused by the “antipsychotics” (+ the “antidepressants”).

        Report comment

          • I believe, given the above facts, in retrogressing into progress. The old ‘trade in lunacy’ has been updated to such an extent that it is difficult for people to get their bearings. Ignore the business end of “the helping” cough, cough “professions” at your own risk. Generally, it is the professional who is “helped” most by this business, and the client who is “stiffed”, or, to put it another way, robbed blind. There is this attitude, we can’t really go after this profession critically because it would mean throwing so many people out of work. Okay. Actually, we’d all be better off with them in another profession, maybe even a profession that made sense.

            Report comment

  26. The thing I like about MIA is that the articles reflect “Science, Psychiatry and Social Justice”. I think it is one of very few websites with this broad perspective. Some commentators here are saying there should be no scientific research into “mental illness” because there is no such thing as mental illness. But there are also readers here who believe that emotional distress can have very real physical causes. I appreciate the wide variety of perspectives on this site on the subject of “mental illness” or whatever you want to call it.

    Report comment

      • Steve:

        How can you do scientific research on an arbitrary concept that means different things to different people, and is being constantly changed over time, and thus cannot be objectively measured in any way? To suggest that any research can be done on such a pure value judgment suggests that it’s more than just an imagined concept but is an actual thing. So just by suggesting this, you’re giving legitimacy to a fantasy, just as MIA’s “scientific” articles about “mental illness” are. You have already accepted the false premise that’s the foundation upon which all of psychiatry’s lies and harms have been built. You might as well try to do “scientific research” on other concepts like “right” and “wrong” or “good” and “bad” while you’re at it.


        Report comment

        • I think you misunderstand me. The only research I’m talking about it that which debunks any idea that there is some medical issue at play. For instance, I have found it extremely valuable to read decades of reviews of the literature on “ADHD,” not because I believe in that bogus concept, but because those decades of research prove what we all intuitively know to be true: giving kids stimulants doesn’t improve their grades, their academic test scores, their social skills, their high school dropout rates, their rates of delinquency, or even their “self esteem,” however they measure that subjective concept. This is very useful to me when someone tries to explain to a parent how “untreated ADHD” leads to high school dropout and delinquency, and I can say, “What most people don’t seem to know is that 50 years of research have shown that “treating ADHD” with stimulants does not change those outcomes one iota, and in some studies it makes them worse.”

          I’m certainly not in favor of wasting good money on studying these idiotic constructs. But I do value people (like Giovanni Fava or Jonathan Leo or Peter Breggin) who do or assemble research showing that the institution of psychiatry has its collective head in a very dark place. Yes, even if they use “those terms.” Because sometimes people just need to hear that psychiatry is lying to them as a place to start their journey to understanding how deeply harmful the industry really is.

          Report comment

          • Very good point. Most of the research is done to get drugs approved for market, unless it is research into “mental illness”, usually based on the premise of something biologically amiss. You know, the excuse to drug. What if the drugs are damaging, and the premise is fallacious? Isn’t that where we’re at? Actually we know the drugs are damaging, and the premise is only part of the story. There is a moral element to the “mental illness”/”mental health” equation. People are drugged, in large measure, not because they’re exhibiting “signs” of “sickness” (i.e. symptoms), but because they are thought to be misbehaving. (Or, as Dr. Thomas Szasz used to put it, because somebody else finds their behavior annoying.)

            Report comment

        • “You might as well try to do ‘scientific research’ on other concepts like ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ or ‘good’ and ‘bad’ while you’re at it.” Psychiatry has basically claimed their DSM belief system is ‘right,’ and everyone who disagrees with them is ‘wrong.’ Heard of ‘anosognosia,’ a stigmatization for all who disagree with a psychiatric diagnosis? Psychiatry also claims they are ‘good’ and all who disagree with them are ‘bad.’

          This gets us into a philosophical conversation on ‘good’ vs ‘evil,’ which may need to be had. Since not all people believe in the DSM “bible.” Research that further disproves the DSM may be needed, but not because all the DSM disorders have not already been proven to be “invalid” or iatrogenetic illnesses, which they have been medically proven to be. Psychiatry actually wrote a “bible” describing the iatrogenic illnesses they can create with their psychiatric drugs, but fraudulently claims them to be “genetic” illnesses.

          But this further conversation, at a minimum, is definitely needed, because all the DSM “bible” believers won’t give up their use of that “invalid” and “unreliable” billing code DSM “bible.”

          Report comment

      • That would be physiological research, not “mental health” research (as long as the existence of “mental illness” is not a hidden premise).

        However, even the existence of variations in neurotransmitter levels correlated with mood changes would not signify disease states, or a need to fuck with people’s biochemistry to make them “act right.”

        Report comment

        • I agree absolutely. I’ve said to people that even if they DID prove that people “with ADHD” have a difference in their brains from the average person, it would not mean that there was anything wrong with them. After all, genetic diversity is the key to species survival! Or as one foster youth once wisely said to me, “Maybe different people should be allowed to have different brain chemicals.”

          Report comment

          • Steve:

            I can’t believe that you presumed above that brain chemical differences would prove genetic causation. You’re making the very error of confusing correlation with causation that’s been the key to psychiatry’s duping America into accepting its false medical model. As I explained in “Would discovering the biology of ‘mental illness’ explain its cause?”, every unique thought/feeling/behavior must have its own unique brain-process correlate, which doesn’t cause it, but merely IS the thought, behavior, or feeling as viewed at the brain-process level. So even if you did find the necessarily-present brain-process correlate of a thought, feeling, or behavior, the question of why this thought/feeling/behavior occurred would still be unanswered.

            And researchers like Giovanni Fava actually bolstered psychiatry’s medical model of emotions, by encouraging everyone who previously took antidepressants to believe that whenever they get upset, it’s due to a drug-induced chemical imbalance. But Irving Kirsch proved that antidepressants’ chemical effects are purely incidental when it comes to their benefit; they only work via the placebo effect. So of course since these drugs don’t really work, their users will get demoralized whenever the placebo effect invariably fades. And of course if they spend years misguidedly looking to solve their troubles with pills rather than addressing their real-life troubles themselves, then their unaddressed real-life troubles will likely worsen over time. Think of the suckers who once bought snake-oil which was promised to miraculously make them very strong. These people likely became weaker in the long-term, not because of the snake-oil, but because they stopped exercising to build up their muscles, since they mistakenly thought the snake-oil would do that for them.

            The placebo effect, and the fading of the placebo effect, each must have their own chemical correlates, which perhaps Fava found. But again, finding something’s necessarily-present chemical correlate in no way explains its cause. All this does is trick yet more people into medicalizing life.


            Report comment

          • I’m not going to try and explain myself again. You seem to have difficulty following what I’m saying for some reason. I never assumed that bad brain chemistry causes anything – to the contrary, I think the whole thing is a bunch of pseudoscientific chicanery invented to sell drugs. Anyone who has ever read anything I wrote knows this about me. All I’m saying is that sometimes having hard scientific data proving such assumptions FALSE is helpful in counteracting pseudoscientific propaganda put out by the proponents of the DSM “model” toward their potential victims. You’re free to disagree with me, but not to put words in my mouth that I not only didn’t say, but which are in direct contradiction to what I’ve clearly expressed myself to believe over and over again on this forum.

            Report comment

    • I’m not sure why my original post didn’t show up. I also appreciate having an open space for diversity of thought. I don’t think a diagnosis implies the source of one’s challenge, difference, or experience. Different meanings can be derived from having a label/diagnosis depending on the person’s perspective. I don’t think a bad outcome is always the result.

      Report comment

      • Steve:

        I’m sorry I misunderstood you and put words in your mouth. I misinterpreted your statement above in which you said that {Even if people with ADHD had a difference in their brains, it wouldn’t mean there was anything wrong with them; after all, genetic diversity is the key to species survival}. I wrongly thought you were thereby suggesting that if certain types of brain processes were found in such people, it would imply that their personality styles were the result of genetically-predetermined brain processes.


        Report comment

    • Some commentators here are saying there should be no scientific research into “mental illness” because there is no such thing as mental illness.


      But there are also readers here who believe that emotional distress can have very real physical causes.

      How does the second sentence follow from the first? In the first you refer to “mental illness,” which is bogus. In the second you refer to “emotional distress” (which is sometimes mislabeled “mental illness”) and people’s beliefs about “it” — a pronoun that lumps all emotional distress into one basket as an “it” (even though everyone’s distress is intimately unique). Then somehow people’s “beliefs” come into play. So it’s unclear where you’re going with this, but I can see you making no logical case for “mental health research” and don’t know exactly what seems to be getting under your skin.

      Report comment

      • Well conditions like anemia, thyroid disease, Lyme’s disease, traumatic brain injury, etc. can cause depression and problems thinking straight.

        BUT we don’t see psychiatrists to treat these problems. We see nutritionists, endocrinologists, neurologists, and so on. The best way to get TBI (and other physical problems) is to see a shrink. As Peter Breggin says, “That’s how it WORKS.”

        Report comment

      • If you really think there is no such thing as mental illness, I wonder why you are at MIA. My point is that I really don’t care if you call it mental illness or emotional distress or madness or anything else. My son has been suffering for close to 10 years now and no one has been able to tell me why. That is why I support “mental health research”. I appreciate the efforts of the scientists who are trying to find a cure for this terrible affliction and I support Robert Whitaker because he is open-minded enough to look at all the possible solutions.

        Report comment

        • I prefer the term “emotional distress.” Dr. William Glasser called bizarre mental states “creative symptoming.”

          Have you read any books by him Mad in Canada? I recommend Choice Theory. The neat thing about Reality Therapy/Choice Theory is you wouldn’t have to get your son to go. You could learn how to draw him back to the real world using methods Glasser employed.

          Report comment

          • My “emotional distress” arose mostly on being told that I was going to undergo a so-called legal hearing that could mean a great deal of time lost to psychiatric assault and imprisonment. Usually, the gig was rigged from the start, and any strong emotion exhibited on my part was just another reason, in the authoritarian mind, to lock me up and suspend my civil liberties.

            Report comment

          • I prefer the term “emotional distress.”

            Slippery slope Rachel, big time. Why would you assume all labeled people are “emotionally distressed”? Some are unacceptably happy or carefree; some are distressing OTHER people. This is another way of validating false categories by confirming the existence of an “it,” when we are talking about unique individuals and their unique feelings and perceptions.

            Report comment

          • Well, my escalating distress during an out of court legal hearing only provided more grounds to the “mental health” authorities for me being incarcerated AKA committed to the “hospital”.

            “Slippery slope” indeed. There’s only one direction to slide in there, and that’s deeper and deeper into the gaping maw of the lunatic trap.

            Report comment

        • My point is that I really don’t care if you call it mental illness or emotional distress or madness or anything else.

          First and foremost you should stop saying “it.” Further, why is defining whatever you are discussing so pointless to you if you’re searching for understanding?

          Report comment

  27. Thank you for this blog Dr. Caplan and for presenting these important issues. I agree with a lot of your points and also appreciate Robert Whitaker’s transparency in opening the subject to further debate.

    I never understood how a psychiatrist “helped” anyone with life problems when only providing drugs and brief follow up appts but thought surely to God psych “diagnoses” must be based on scientific facts/evidence and psychiatry must know what it’s doing with powerful drugs that mess with people’s brains – how could it not?? (is what I thought)

    Then after I found MIA and began reading the blogs it all made SO much sense and gave such validation to my own profoundly bad experience. I soon realized I was not alone in my horrible experience and was ever so shocked to read what has happened to many others. There were a few articles or research info I was not always sure where MIA stood, particularly related to psych “diagnoses”. But how to best present psych terminology overall can get complicated….where to draw the line and still have newcomers to MIA understand the information. I think it would help if the message regarding the scientific invalidity and fallacy of psych “diagnoses” was consistent and agree that psych “diagnoses” should be called labels. I do remain most grateful for the overall amazing MIA website, it was a lifeline back to common sense and reasoning for me.

    Report comment

  28. Someone that’s sad and has no ability to relate to why, and simply needs someone to make them feel it’s OK to talk about their feelings, so that in the process they gain insight, rather than hating the “sadness,” that person isn’t going to find that support with someone stating it’s not a chemical imbalance or a disease, or anything genetic, and then insists that it’s then their task to take part in a war against psychiatry.

    If someone is looking for an orange, and then has been convinced it’s an apple, for them to be told: “NO, IT’S AN APPLE, AND CAN YOU BELIEVE THOSE EVIL PEOPLE TELLING YOU THAT. IF YOU DON’T FIGHT OUR WAR AGAINST THEM, THEN YOU’RE NOT A GOOD PERSON.”

    Well, they still haven’t found an orange. And they can’t tell all of their friends that were also deceived where the oranges are.

    In fact

    That’s avoiding what’s really going on. And yes, when a person has been “medicated” into a state where they can’t feel anymore, then bringing back natural brain functions by helping them get off of medications would help, as would for them to realize that it’s not a disease, and it’s not genetic etc, which is actually what the post of our wonderful Paula is about.


    When a person has already been misled (re-traumatized, confused, brainwashed) by the mental health system having been given treatment that doesn’t help, and they then find that ONCE AGAIN, they are supposed to push their feelings to the side, and it’s made out that it’s their task to fight a war against psychiatry, that’s re-traumatization for the SECOND time. In fact, they may not be able to navigate through their whole history enough to engage with understanding that getting off of their meds would help or even deal with such a process of withdrawal symptoms; but then would anyone simply listen to them, make them feel they can express their feelings, give them a space to not be judged, be interested in their story, see them as human and see what could be spelled and spilled out giving it the room to be the enlightenment that’s then already there but lacked the reflexes to be seen, then they could logically also get off of their medications, let go of the diagnosis, and move on.

    And what’s going to happen when their feelings are pushed to the side for the fourth or fifth time, because they just weren’t good (driven, smart) enough to be part of the anti-psychiatry society, or whatever followed?

    The same goes for someone who’s lambent from one thing to the next, not being able to understand the connections they are making (and then dismissed to ever find the connection, although simply Dadaism knew better already after WW1 and before WW2 came along).

    The same for so many other “diagnosis,” whether it’s “Schizophrenia,” or “Depression,” or….

    And it’s not what it’s about.
    People should be proud that they have a diagnosis, because the only thing it says is that they aren’t normal, they aren’t part of the vicious circle making the state of being human something other than it is, as if it’s something produced by their “society.” The same people labeling them would say that the miracles of harmony that created life are signs of insanity. Because they’d have to just allow them as well, the same as just listening to someone’s story.

    I said today to a friend that I think that “Schizophrenia,” means that you have better mental health than most people. It means that you can’t suppress the trauma that other people use as excuse to find anyone crazy (or a bother, or disruptive, or violent) that doesn’t suppress it [trauma]; and in not being able to suppress it, it comes out, and won’t be used to be suppressed as if such suppression makes trauma necessary and the corner stone of what creates a foundation for a society. As if there’s something wrong with someone that can’t uphold such mental nonsense, someone who instead flits lambent from on thing to the other (annoying, inconsistent, incoherent, disruptive); or when someone is sad, or the rest of those nice tight little labels, in that nice tight little wound-up society that blames it on others whenever the spring gets loosened and they have to deal with their phobias against being human,


    Report comment

    • WOAH! Upon looking at this again (from my last post), I had to do something more with it, lest it’s not understood for the running of it:

      “I said today to a friend that I think that “Schizophrenia,” means that you have better mental health than most people. It means that you can’t suppress the trauma that other people use as excuse to find anyone crazy (or a bother, or disruptive, or violent) that doesn’t suppress it [trauma]; and in not being able to suppress it, it comes out, and won’t be used to be suppressed as if such suppression makes trauma necessary and the corner stone of what creates a foundation for a society. As if there’s something wrong with someone that can’t uphold such mental nonsense, someone who instead flits lambent from on thing to the other (annoying, inconsistent, incoherent, disruptive); or when someone is sad, or the rest of those nice tight little labels, in that nice tight little wound-up society that blames it on others whenever the spring gets loosened and they have to deal with their phobias against being human,”
      It seems that most of what goes on in “mental illness,” when someone is seen as crazy, is that they behave in a way that goes beyond the game theory prevalent in society. When someone isn’t constantly wagering their behavior upon whether or not they get rewards for it, when they can’t be controlled by arbitrary societal norms, then they are seen as crazy. And by arbitrary societal norms, I mean all the behavior that’s considered unacceptable or crazy, just to keep people controlled by fear, because when you are scared to do those things, you’ll follow all the rest of the rules. And so someone walking around naked, not hurting anyone, is seen as crazy. Someone not making any sense to others, but being completely non violent is seen as crazy. That really only functions to keep people controlled by fear, and they actually think they are being moral. And so anyone not happy with their compromises in life that are causing unnecessary distress, but believing they need to follow them, they don’t understand their sadness and it’s an illness rather than their subconscious trying to point out that things aren’t working out and a change would help. And the whole matrix of fear frames that and sustains it, and judges anyone that can’t suppress their trauma. And society is pretty much built on that, and people think that their place in society and their sanity depends on that.
      Someone with a “diagnosis,” is not going along with all of that. They should be proud they’ve broken free of brainwashing. And they should be helped to see that they are waking up rather than they have a disease.

      Report comment

  29. One thing to consider in this entire discussion about terminology.

    Quite literally, the major power brokers (psychiatry and Big Pharma) promoting the Medical Model and ALL their false terminology, have spent several hundred BILLION dollars on misguided and corrupt research AND advertising over the past 4 decades, promoting the biggest PR hoax the world has EVER seen throughout all of human history. Someone please name another PR hoax that compares.

    Every time we give ANY scientific legitimacy to their diagnostic labels and terms like “mental health” or “mental illness” or call psychiatric drugs “medications,” we end up somehow validating that their money (actually it’s our money when you consider who produces real value in society) was well spent on transforming our linguistic paradigm to justify and reinforce oppression.


    Report comment

    • Good question, Richard. The closest I can think of to compare would be the media collusion with the defense industry and Bush government to convince Americans there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. (And we all know Vietnam was a hoax too thanks to the Pentagon Papers.) Trillions spent, millions of foreign lives lost, countries destroyed. In both these cases, Pharma and the military industrial complex, it boils down to the capitalist pursuit of profit at any cost.

      Both industries discuss ways to grow the industry, make profit forecasts in economic rags. And in both cases, it’s nearly verboten to question the premise. You’ll be called a pill shamer if you question “mental illness” and a troop shamer and unpatriotic for questioning war. Both topics require massive amounts of propaganda and coordination between government and industry to thrive.

      Report comment

  30. Really thoughtful article and valuable discussion here.

    “I have called psychiatric diagnosis ‘the first cause of everything bad in the mental health system.'”

    Yes, all the assumptions and cultural prejudices and justifications for marginalization (social abuse) are not only reflected here, they are encouraged, validated and unequivocally supported.

    My question then becomes, “What has led a person to be in this position to begin with?” Something is obviously lacking for a person or someone has been terribly misguided and has faced personal injsutice to wind up face to face with a psychiatrist in the first place. Issues do need to be addressed one way or another, and we all have them. If we lacked guidance and/or nurturing during developmental years–and even worse if we were betrayed by the family system, which is often the case–then this will show up one way or another as we move along in life, sometimes later down the road, but the evidence of this will surface one way or another at some point in life, and it can be quite striking in some, more subtle in others.

    I agree, no need to diagnose this, but there is something to address and shift here. And I believe there is burden on the individual and on the society which surrounds that individual. But where to begin? The past is the past, can’t change that. We’re in present time with our issues at this point, and poised toward creating a new and more enlightened future society. The sooner that future comes, the better!

    Right now, I think this applies to more people than not and increasingly stressful and oppressive times as in the ones we are currently living will bring these issues to light more and more. How we speak and write about it certainly makes a huge difference when trying to raise consciousness. Precision is essential for clarity to translate. I think it’s more effective to communicate in synch with our beliefs, not according to what others believe. That seems totally self-defeating to me, and boarders on appeasement, which of course is what supports status quo and inhibits change.

    Report comment

  31. Just to add how very fortunate it is that the many who have been harmed by bogus psych labels have such an ethical and credible advocate and spokesperson as Dr. Caplan. Having served on the DSM-IV Task Force committees Dr. Caplan has the first-hand knowledge and proof as to how these labels are dreamt up and voted on as ‘flavor of the week’, going in and out of vogue with each new DSM, and without any consideration given to the very harmful consequences these bogus labels have on people’s lives. Thanks so much for speaking out and for your advocacy Dr. Caplan.

    Report comment

  32. Again I come to the concept of further dialogue
    Terry Tempest Williams’s book “ Finding Besuty in a Broken World” has several chapters on the Rowandan genocide and life as it is. There are some powerful thoughts expressed on language and throughout the book.
    Survivor villages that still have ongoing multifaceted issues.
    And there are more places all over the world that this community could learn from and help.
    Maybe Survivor Global Networks.
    And in Africa as in other places one has to work with those who were once your enemies. One cannot amputate human beings. Though there have been times in my outrage I have thought not so peaceful thoughts.
    Check out pages270-271.

    Report comment

  33. This is similar to anti-racist writers and practitioners who continue to use the terms ‘white’ and ‘black’ to refer to people and groups and other abstractions like ‘the black vote’ and ‘white schools’. The terms are not only scientifically meaningless, but also complicit in sustaining a power dynamic within a society.

    Report comment

  34. Thanks, Dr Caplan, for standing up against the abuses of Robert Whitaker and MIA.

    I look forward to and avidly read MIA articles every week, citing some in answers I give in the forum,

    However, from my experience, MIA as an institution, and Robert Whitaker. create abuse that must be checked.

    I have submitted articles about my lived experience to MIA. It’s common, when submitting guest blogs to a publication, that one hears nothing, and then can assume it’s been rejected. But I would think MIA might be different. It is not.

    When submitting, I never hear that my email was received or that my article was rejected. Nothing. I have spoken to two different editors of MIA with the same results.

    In 2017, at the annual Hearing Voices Congress in Boston, I met Whitaker and told him about this. He apologized, and told me he’d get right on it to correct this situation. Again nothing.

    As a site dedicated to those who suffer from rejection and other life problems, one would expect MIA might be more communicative than the run of the mill New Age blog. It is not. In this sense, it is another heartless institution, just like a mainstream mental hospital.

    Report comment

    • Yes, an organization cannot be status quo, as what you are describing here, and expect to be a catalyst for change at the same time. That will never work, for obvious reasons of irreconcilable paradox. Being the change, exemplifying behavoirs as such, is the only way to actually make it happen.

      Report comment

    • There are many reasons for MIA rejecting articles I’m sure, not all of them “heartless.” You said you received no response, but also that you spoke to two editors — did they not say whether or not your piece had been accepted?

      Report comment

  35. I would recommend replacing MIA’s science/research section with an opinions/ideas section. So instead of some pseudoscientific article like “Study shows exercise beneficial in the treatment of depression”, there could be an article: “I like hiking”, in which the writer talks about a challenging/beautiful hiking trail that he/she enjoys especially when feeling overwhelmed by pressures in their life. It would just be common sense, but at least it wouldn’t promote the myth that feelings are diseases that require treatment. It would instead encourage the de-medicalization of life.

    Report comment

    • Dr. K: I really liked that article about exercise being beneficial in the treatment of depression. Maybe for you it is just common sense, but maybe not everyone realizes how much exercise can influence their feelings. Some people are not helped by either drugs or talk therapy. Perhaps for them, exercise might be very helpful. I don’t think that there is only one cause of mental illness, so there won’t be a single cure.

      In regards to your earlier comment that mental illness could be called a “scam for accessing insurance cash”, I find this to be extremely offensive. We supported our adult son for several years before he was approved for a disability pension. We used up most of our retirement savings because we did not want him living on the streets. He wanted so much to have a job. He was hired and fired 9 times in one year. His last employer was a kindly person who assisted him in getting a disability pension. You have no idea what mentally ill people and their families go through.

      Report comment

      • MIC speaking as a “mentally ill” adult child sometimes I pity my parents more than myself.

        Off my drugs which never helped and made me crazier than before, I still can’t work. My SSI won’t pay for housing so I have to live with my retired parents. In my mid-forties and have the symptoms of bad Crohn’s Disease. Iatrogenic damage on my digestive system.

        It’s rough on my parents. Having me here depresses Mom. Sometimes I feel guilty for just existing.

        The reason I took the drugs that have crippled me and kept me from gainful employment as an adult is it pleased my folks. Mom repeatedly told me how my “meds” made me more pleasant to be around so they must work. 🙁

        Looking back she disliked me talking. The solution was never talk unless she speaks to me and she picks the topic. I do this and she thinks I don’t need “meds” though she still threatens to send me to a “home” when I misplace things. (TBI is to blame.)

        Report comment

        • Thank you Rachel777 for that share.

          We hear lots of people hear saying similar things. We also hear the parents saying that their child needs to be kept on drugs, otherwise they could not be at home, but would have to be at the homeless shelter. I always want to ask them how long it has been this way.

          I say that any time a minor child is being taken for any kind of behavioral therapy, that it should be reported to the Juvenile Dependency Court.

          The doctors earn a good living representing the interests of the parents. And the hiring of such doctors, instead of using public clinics, is one of the ways the middle-class family defines itself.

          So who represents the child? It would have to be someone who has authority over the parents. This would have to be the court.

          We also hear people who had never had any contact with the mental health system until after they were of the age of majority and no longer lived with their parents. Okay, but there still does seem to be hidden in their narratives a certain inability to go on with their lives. And one has to ask where this is coming from, and really what is hidden underneath it.

          Abuse is a bad way to talk about it, as it makes it sound like it is something aberrational. I prefer to talk about Child Exploitation, and this is the reason the middle-class family exists. Probably you could never outlaw such. But there are ways of exposing it and holding the parents accountable.

          But as it is today, our society still runs on lies and denial.

          Report comment

          • Some people were fed into the mental health system by their parents.

            But with some no, they never had any contact with the mental health system until they were of legal age and no longer lived with their parents.

            In either case though, the mental health system is protecting the ideology of the middle-class family, silencing its survivors, and making the survivors believe that they are the cause of the problems themselves.

            Most of the time, Psychotherapists are just apologizing for the parents, saying that they did not have the current edition of the pedagogy manual, and lecturing to you from that current edition. Sometimes they have even helped to write that new edition, which talks about empathy, nurturing, attachment, and communications skills.

            And this is the entirely consistent with what Foucault has always said, these kinds of ideas are just newer slicker ways of inflicting even greater cruelty. And this is why Alice Miller always stood firm in her opposition to all pedagogy.

            Report comment

      • MadinCanada

        When I jokingly suggested replacing the term “mental illness” with “scam for accessing insurance cash”, I wasn’t referring to disability pensions. I was referring to the billions of dollars that the mental health industry collects by billing health insurers in the U.S., thanks to the DSM which was created to facilitate billing them. I’m sorry I did not make that clear.


        Report comment

        • Dr. Kelmenson – I have been working with those forensically committed. When it comes to psychiatric “labels,” there is a more monetized approach in the States. The label identifies a flesh and blood human being as being a commodity. If the one labeled has children, the one labeled increases in worth. The children are worth $$$ to CPS. If one has private insurance they are have more worth than one that has no insurance. One who is on Medicare is worth more as a commodity than one that is on Medicaid.

          There are overlapping systems in place to take advantage of a Labeled human being’s commodity worth. Criminal Justice, aka Penal, system involvement increases a labeled human being’s worth. The legal charges determine the human beings worth to the interlocking system(s). Once forensically committed, the commitment facility further identifies a labeled human being’s worth to them through their “diagnostic” practices and the nature of the Penal Charges. At best, this only incentivizes providing “custodial care,” as compared to “therapeutic care.”

          What forensic commitment truly incentivizes . . . the Revolving Door Syndrome associated with psychiatric labels. On paper, commitment facilities practice the legal requirements of forensic commitment. In reality, they only do enough to not get caught in their own malpractice. Even when caught, they control the labeled human being’s narrative. They negate the truth of the situation to a NEGATIVE.

          These forensic commitment facilities take advantage of Courts unwillingness to question the activities taking place inside their walls. That is if, the Courts don’t already have word of mouth deals with these facilities.

          The purpose of commitment expirations . . . are to enable commitment facilities to budget for their receipt of funds based upon the human being’s legal charges.

          There is much more to this . . . but getting away from the topic at hand. One just has to remember, in Western Culture, every human being has been commoditized. Some human beings are worth more to the various systems . . .the psychiatric labeled, especially the forensic, the easiest to show this connection.

          Report comment

      • Mad in Canada,

        I empathise with you.

        There is such a thing as serious and disabling mental distress.

        A person on strong Psychiatric Drugs is, also, likely to be genuinely physically disabled; and a person can go completely mad purely as a result of coming off Strong Psychiatric drugs.

        Report comment


    In October of 2012 I was horrified to discover my name on a Severe Mental Illness Register at My GP Surgery at London W2.

    When my name was put on this SMI Register (2002/03) I was working as a subcontractor on the House of Commons Buildings, Norman Shawe House (on the windows below:-

    I also decorated the Offices! )

    I made an appointment with my GP, and discussed my 26 years of WELLNESS in the UK plus my *HISTORICAL IRISH MH EXPERIENCE with him.

    By the end of the interview my GP s shirt was completely saturated – and sticking to his body.

    My GP then Guaranteed me the Removal of “Schizophrenia” from my Records 3 times in writing, and the Removal of my name from the SMI Register:-




    A month later by chance I discovered “Schizophrenia” still on the GP information system. So I complained to my GP about this. My GP in Response presented me with a signed letter on practice paper, completely contradicting his previous 3 written guarantees; and placing Full Confidence in my Historical and Psychopathic Irish Psychiatrist (below).


    I then complained to the UK General Medical Council as I considered my GP s behaviour to be unacceptable. But in May of 2013 the GMC politely refused to proceed with my complaint.



    They stated that in their opinion that the doctors behaviour would not affect their ability to work safely.


    Near Fatal Modecate Experience Pg 1

    Near Fatal Modecate Experience Pg 2


    I showed my GP a November 8 1986 Adverse Drug Reaction Warning Request Letter sent by me to doctors at Ireland, concerning medications that had disabled and nearly killed me.

    ADR Warning Request ltr Pg 1

    ADR Warning Request ltr Pg 2

    ADR Warning Request Ltr Pg 3

    and Demonstrated to him, the complete ABSENCE of any Adverse Drug Reaction Warning on the November 24 1986 Irish Record Summary,

    1986 Irish Record Summary Pg 1

    1986 Irish Record Summary Pg 2 )

    Report comment

    • For Medical Diagnosis to be trusted doctors have got to be trusted to tell the truth. If a doctor can tell “any lie going”, and the UK General Medical Council will allow this – then Mental Health Diagnosis cannot be trusted in the UK.

      I also complained (with evidence) in Ireland in 2013, and found that my Historical Irish Psychiatrist Dr PA Carney had been “on” and “around” the Irish Medical Council for a number of years. But The Irish Medical Council were not prepared – to act.

      In my opinion, with the doctoring of Records in “Mental Health” in the UK and Ireland, Factually Speaking, “Mental Health” Diagnosis cannot be trusted; and all Deaths and Injury in Psychiatry must be seen as suspect.

      Report comment

  37. I agree with Dr. Caplan. i have similar concerns, particularly the information that is being given to parents in some posts and videos which reinforce false psychiatric terminology,and even recommend counselling and psychiatric medication to children for disorders which do not exist..
    Bob Whitaker supported my point of view when I wrote to him last December.
    However I still read posts that concern me. I was recently told that these posts are not necessarily the views of Mad in America. Where then do parents and survivors get accurate information?

    Jo Ann

    Report comment

    • We are actively denied ACCURATE INFORMATION as we DO NOT control the Narrative . . . the more you travel down this rabbit hole, the more disgusting it becomes . . . I, too, have been looking for answers and what I have found leads to truth from the absence of facts. Ask a few “mental health workers” the same question over the span of several months and get a different answer. Additionally, “Mental Health Workers” control the documentation, and therefore, the TRUTH. The TRUTH, more often than not, is made a NEGATIVE as a result . . . unable to be proven.

      When it comes to Psychiatric “diagnosis/labeling” the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual (DSM) is the source used for “MENTAL HEALTH” Common Language. The “disorders” and “syndromes” listed have NO proven medical causes as the DSM describes “behaviors,” not verifiable, testable, medical conditions.

      How the DSM is used . . . “Common Language”

      “Diagnosing/Labeling” aberrant behaviors actively denies human suffering for the reason(s) of Billing

      “Diagnosing/Labeling” for the reason(s) of “Treatment,” a catchall word that really has no meaning beyond prescribing “Psychiatric Drugs”. . .

      “Diagnosing/Labeling” for the public, law enforcement, churches, and a host of others, to use in describing the cause of an individual’s behavior(s).

      Many states’ laws list “DSM Diagnosis” or reference the DSM when it comes to Criminal Competency

      Many states’ laws also differentiate between “physical” (medical) and “psychiatric” certainty

      Sudden stoppage of psychiatric drugs (a common practice) is the “illness reasserting itself” . . . when it is actually withdrawal symptoms

      “Psychiatric medication(s)” are actually “Psychiatric Drugs.” A vast majority has a street name/value and they don’t treat a medically confirmed illness/disease.

      Even the “DSM AUTHORS” changed their own language. Previous to DSM V, a Differential Diagnosis Rule Out needed to be performed . . . or a Differential and Substance Use Rule Out (either very rarely occurs) . This was to rule out real MEDICAL CONDITIONS previous to “Psychiatric Diagnosis/Labeling.” DSM V, did away with the Differential Rule Out and replaced it with the wording when applying its Labels, “and another Medical Condition.”

      And . . . why a “Corporation/Industry?” The DSM usage and associated Common Language is used in almost, if not, all of Western Culture. It is not just the USA and Canada. The usage transcends state/national/international boundaries, just like a CORPORATION.

      Internally, within the “Psychiatric/Mental Health Industry/Corporation,” the DSM is referred to as Diagnose Something for Money.

      Why is COMMON LANGUAGE so important? Language is the root of all human/business communication. The one that controls the language CONTROLS. For a clearer example of this, compare the “Psychiatric” establishment to the Legal Profession. Each control access to their venues through their corporate specific languages.

      Now, how do we differentiate between the DSM Common Language and Reality? Change the motivation.

      There is much that can be learned from the Psychological Injury Model reported on MIA. Just remember, TRAUMA comes in all different forms and is a completely subjective experience. The behavior(s) stemming from this TRAUMA are what “Psychiatric Labels” monetize. As such, once “Diagnosed/labeled” and drugged, there rarely exists an effort to get to the ROOT CAUSE(S).

      Report comment

  38. I don’t think clinicians are taught to use the DSM as the bible or as a cookbook. It’s understood that categories can change as knowledge develops and society changes. Having a diagnosis does not mean that the cause(s) is known or that it’s necessarily lifelong. Saying a diagnosis doesn’t exist, trying to use other words to describe it, or putting a diagnosis in quotations can be hurtful to some people. Proclaiming that mental health professionals are either all bad or good is not productive. The questions that Dr. Caplin suggest people should ask providers about a diagnosis or whether needing to be diagnosed at all are excellent. An individual should ultimately be the one to decide what is aligned with one’s own perspective and what is or is not helpful.

    Report comment

    • What if the “diagnoses” are known to be manufactured and to not represent any kind of medical problem? Is it not a fraud to pretend one is practicing “medicine” beyond “symptom management” when “treating diagnoses” that are known not to be scientifically definable? What’s to stop someone from inventing “nose-picking disorder” or “excessive skipping disorder” or “unreasonable political protest disorder?” If we can just invent “disorders” out of anything we don’t like or find uncomfortable or confusing, where does it end? Hell, they’re prescribing STIMULANTS for “Binge Eating Disorder” now! As if the person is suffering from excessive appetite and suppressing the desire to eat is “treating” the problem! I’m sorry, but these utterly unscientific “disorders” are not advancing the understanding of people’s mental/emotional distress or well being, but is instead creating further confusion.

      Report comment

      • I totally agree, Steve. And distracting people from their real life concerns, and “confusing” people with mind altering drugs and make believe disorders, is the goal of psychiatry. But such behavior is also the most egregious form of gas lighting people, which is “mental abuse,” not “mental health care.”

        “Having a diagnosis does not mean that the cause(s) is known or that it’s necessarily lifelong.” Someone needs to educate the “mental health” workers about this, because they’ve been fraudulently claiming their DSM disorders are “life long, incurable, genetic disorders” for decades.

        “putting a diagnosis in quotations can be hurtful to some people,” especially those people who profit from stigmatizing others with those fraud based “diagnoses.”

        “An individual should ultimately be the one to decide what is aligned with one’s own perspective and what is or is not helpful.” So, you stand 100% against forced treatment, ILNC? Let’s make it illegal today.

        Report comment

      • It’s understood that diagnoses are constructs. I don’t think people place much value on the DSM because they recognize that. I don’t think a diagnosis implies medical or biological causes or that drugs are the answer. If you don’t believe in using labels like binge eating disorder or anorexia or bulimia that is fine. I would have a difficult time telling someone who said they had an eating disorder that they didn’t have one because a label is a construct. Some people may perceive that as hurtful. Everyone derives a different meaning and significance from having a diagnosis or not having one. If you want to put a diagnosis in quotation marks, go ahead. I think that is confusing and can suggest something else that what I think you intend.

        Report comment

        • I think you underestimate the importance of and the damage done by the DSM. To start with, there is no reason that we can’t say, “X has difficulty eating enough food” or “Y has a difficult relationship with food” or “Z has a very negative body image that she wants to change.” Not labeling something doesn’t mean denying the circumstances that prompted the labeling process. In fact, we can get a MUCH more accurate description of what is going on by simply asking the client to describe the circumstances they feel they are facing and having them identify their own description of the problem. So there is no need to tell someone “you have an eating disorder” to provide helpful intervention. Now if the person him/herself identifies that “I have an eating disorder,” I would certainly not invalidate that. But that’s very, very different than a professional telling you, “You have an eating disorder” and defining your reality for you. This is especially true when the doctors start telling you that you suffer from a “chemical imbalance” or that your “disorder” is hereditary or due to some kind of brain malfunction that no one has even come close to identifying as true. And if you don’t believe this happens, you need to read up on this site or talk to a lot more people who have engaged with the “MH” system.

          More importantly, the DSM is taken VERY seriously by both professionals and the society at large. Not all, but lots and lots. Saying that a person “has depression” implies that there is something wrong with THAT PERSON for feeling that way, that they have a “medical problem” and that they need “treatment.” A survey in the late 2000s showed that over 80% of Americans believed that “depression” was caused by “low serotonin.” This belief did not just happen – it was the result of a large and coordinated effort to convince Americans that “mental health problems” were, in fact, biological. There is plenty of documented evidence that the thrust of the DSM III, which prompted a huge expansion of biological explanations for “mental illnesses” defined in the book, was to expand psychiatry’s market share. It was, in fact, a quite cynical effort to position psychiatry as a “real branch of medicine” and to promote its practices as “scientific” and “proven effective.” Naturally, the pharmaceutical industry was happy to team up with psychiatry in this effort, and continues to provide most of the funding for the continued propaganda campaign to that end.

          It’s easy to think that those who made the DSM are just trying to understand better and refine their model, but the origins of the DSM series belie that suggestion. It is more than possible to provide good support to people who face mental and emotional suffering without the slightest reference to a “diagnosis.” Again, if an individual wants to view him/herself through that lens, they’re welcome to do so, but the profession has no right to promote the idea that these “diagnoses” represent real, biologically-distinct entities when they know absolutely that they do not and never will.

          Report comment

          • Here’s the thing- different people can derive various meanings when reading articles no matter how terminology used on this site. I’m not naive about the system but I do realize multiple lenses exist amongst readers. As for how the DSM is used or not used we can go back and forth about that. However I don’t think this platform is the best way and in the end I think that we would agree more than not. My intention is to point out that people have different experiences. Things can be viewed from all different angles- about how terminology is being used as well as the changes that are being proposed. I understand the mission of this site as well as understand the articles without further explanation needed, avoiding labels, or quotation marks around words. If changes like that are made it won’t completely eliminate confusion- it can in ways create confusion for some people.

            Report comment

          • I do think we’d agree on most points. My issue is the professionals pushing these “diagnoses” when we know they are BS. But they have permeated society, and some people do take offense or get confused when I communicate my disagreement with these concepts. I think it’s an inevitable part of the problem, and I blame the doctors and the profession for promoting ideas they know to be false for the bulk of the confusion.

            The most important part of helping anyone is, as you say, recognizing that everyone has different experiences. Unfortunately, the main thrust of the DSM (in my view) is to invalidate those differences and suggest that we can lump people together based on how they feel or behave rather than taking the time to actually find out what’s going on. I am guessing we’d be of a mind that the job of any helper should be to find out from the person they’re trying to help what works or doesn’t work for them, rather than forcing one’s own view of the situation down their throat (in some cases literally). As to how the average clinician views the situation, it might be interesting to do a survey and find out for sure.

            Report comment

        • Excellent summary Steve, Thanks! Psychiatry imposes/forces a “diagnosis” aka label on someone based totally on how the ‘psychiatrist feels’ about someone and their distress or problems. The person has no say in the matter.

          If a person happens to ‘feel’ a “diagnosis” is of some help to them that’s an entirely different matter and to each their own. But that scenario is the exception – not the norm. It is ludicrous and twisted that one person can simply label another person with a “disorder” based on how they ‘FEEL’ about the person or their problems.

          I agree 100% with Dr. Caplan, “psychiatric diagnosis is the first cause of everything bad in the mental health system.” Including all the psych drugs and ECT treatments that damage people’s brains and bodies and ruin lives, as well cause the additional enormous burden and distress of never-ending stigma, discrimination, loss of autonomy, etc,

          Report comment

          • So True Rosalee.
            I rejected and bought.
            I sometimes feel that I am in fact buying, just by fighting it. Weird huh?
            It is exactly what cults do, and it takes a lot of debriefing combined with moving on.
            People join cults because of needs. The cult shows you how much you need them. The cult never ejects you, unless you’re not fully indoctrinated. If you are not compliant, they will shame and ridicule.
            They will be the only ones that feed you, food, the rituals, until you are completely immersed.
            The needs you went in with, will temporarily distract you and won’t let you see the poison you are ingesting.
            When you finally leave, it is because you gained insight into manipulation and you see the horror and nasty.
            You are now left with the old needs, but they have been covered up with new cult damage.
            There is NOTHING about psychiatry that does not resemble cults, except in perhaps a few shrinks who would recognize it as such and help bring closure for the client.
            I just have no proof that a practitioner within a cult can effectively deal with the fallout that the client experienced.

            Report comment

  39. And yet “diagnoses” ARE lifelong. NAMI and psychiatrists routinely tell people they know why they’re “defective.”

    Realizing you were lied to all your adult life and cheated out of everything for no good reason is unavoidably hurtful. 🙁 Stopping the lies may spare others our suffering.

    They get you fired from jobs, denied housing, denied custody of kids, and kicked out of college.

    They allow harmless law-abiding citizens to be lumped into the same category as serial killers.

    My label made me want to kill myself. Rejecting it gave me the will to live.

    Report comment

    • Yes Rachel777, I am very glad that you did not harm yourself.

      We gain our will to live back, when we start fighting back. We need to find comrades, and we need to find ways of fighting back.

      I say one of the best is in putting some Psychiatrists and some Psychotherapists our of business, as well as in finding ways to make the law protect children instead of perpetrators.

      Report comment

  40. I think Dr. Caplan’s suggestions for people about what questions to ask providers about a diagnosis and/or need for one are good for some reasons you have mentioned. When I say a diagnosis is not necessarily lifelong it is from the viewpoint that people can overcome challenges or change.

    Report comment

  41. Rachel777,

    Factually a person either suffers from a lifelong illness or they don’t. If they don’t have the circumstances attached to it, then they can’t really suffer from it, unless they want to.

    Take Dr Elanor Longden as an Example:-

    Or Dr Rufus May

    In my own case my “illness” was “revived” in 2002 vis a vis a Severe Mental Illness Register. My notes were computerised as starting in 2002 with no obvious history (though I had recovered in 1984 and emigrated to the UK in 1986 and had been well for many years).

    In 1980 I was in Amsterdam for several months and had returned to London (to end up in the Maudsley hospital), but there is NO Amsterdam anywhere, on the UK side of my notes.

    There was also NO Admission Procedure to my 1980 Maudsley Hospital stay.

    My “Discharge Summary” (as presented to the Irish Medical Council by my historical Psychiatrist) from my 1980 Maudsley Hospital stay has NO date of Admission.

    I was transferred from the UK to Galway Regional Hospital Ireland in November 1980 where The UK “History + Formulation ” was written and signed for, by the Galway doctor.

    The “Illness Revival” I believe, was to do with Amsterdam, (and the obvious “fiddling” of Records).

    Report comment

    • If someone is a survivor then the course of their life has been irreparably altered.

      While there is no way to undo this, actively fighing back makes it the perpetrator’s problem. Whereas “live and let live” makes it still the survivor’s failing.

      Report comment

      • Thanks Pacific Dawn,

        In my own case I have no choice but to fight back as I’ve had the promotion of “Severe Mental illness” with me, decades after recovery and independance of the “MH” System.

        I can also demonstrate “hole” after “hole” in my “MH” Records.

        Report comment

        • Yes Fiachra, we have to fight back, and that means getting Tangible Results, not just Therapeutic Release.

          There have to be penalties for the perpetrators, and reparations for the survivors.

          No psychotherapist or recovery group is ever going to make this happen.

          Report comment

  42. Hey Paula,
    Your essay has a beautiful clarity of expression regarding this massively important topic.

    As a prisoner of the diagnosis dropped on me in 2004, the accompanying suffering and stigma (from the industry), and my fight out……well….it’s forever commemorated by oh-so-quietly declaring me miraculously ‘cured’ of ‘lifelong, incurable’ bipolar disorder thru their ‘gift’ of anaphylaxis.

    Tuesday I was bipolar for life with 9 years ‘in’…..sloppy, dangerous prescribing, the ER, and “It’s a miracle!”……Wednesday I was no longer bipolar! (“Who needs intrusive attornies poking around?”)…..with the exit paperwork ‘labeling’ me 2 varieties of ‘Unpecified Anxiety & Mood’ quickly inserted into my files….”Nothing to see here……What bipolar?” Good luck & goodbye.

    Apparently, no further explanation for my ‘Lost Decade’ was necessary to me…or the world. And so modest!

    They’re silence regarding this game-changing ‘scientific breakthru’ for the ages is…umm… ‘baffling’.

    Boy, I do love me some quotation marks.

    Without them, a new reader would think my ‘cure’ was SCIENCE, not simply a cost/benefit decision, effortlessly abandoning their own ‘absolute’ dogma without pause…..Business, not ‘personal’ (OR medical science).

    Bless their hearts…and well done, Paula. You nailed it.

    Report comment

  43. I have also done my best to encourage Robert to stop using the medicalized language. This effort has been fruitless. I think there are two reasons for this.

    The first, which Robert himself cited when I asked him about his stance, was that psychiatry’s language is, unfortunately, the lingua franca of its time. There is simply no escaping the fact that psychiatry’s jargon is the one that most people understand the issues with, and therefore, if Mad In America is going to communicate with a wider audience, that is the language they must use.

    The second is a failure of our own. Although I have been desperately trying to get the people in our movement to pay attention to the problem of the language we use for a few years now, there has been no response at all to my cries for us all to hold a virtual conference, to take place over a few months, in which we iron out a new lingua franca for us all to use, and which, if we use it consistently, can replace psychiatry’s in the popular dialogue.

    A third reason might be that Mad In America has what is essentially NO editorial budget. There are simply no resources for the editors to spend thousands upon thousands of hours teaching the webzine’s various writers how to talk about psychiatric issues with any clarity while at the same time lacking the kind of consensually agreed-upon language that I have been advocating.

    Report comment

    • Mr. Coates,
      Check out MIA’s “Full Moral Staus (Feb. 2019) part 2” .
      It addresses the language topic with an outline for effective push-back regarding navigating the private & public systems and their intentionally obstacle-riddled, smoke-and-mirrors processes that nullify efforts by drugged clients to advocate effectively for themselves.

      Discorse on the outside is important; tools ‘on the inside’ are more so.
      As the client is drugged and offered ‘rules of engagement’ authored by the entity they have issue with (and seemingly ‘independent’ agencies), the playing field is on permanent ’tilt’.

      I include a familiar, abbreviated glossary of industry terms that are ubiquitous in their use by professionals, but comprehensively (private, public-funded ‘care’, coast-to-coast) applied subjectively and situationally to their benefit for sustaining recruitment and when squelching any ‘complaints’ (always a pejorative), side-effect reporting, & SAFETY.

      I’ve offered some ideas towards ASSISTANCE…based on what I learned as somene who was able to ‘MacGuyver’ my way out, with a rare VACATED ‘lifelong, incurable’ bipolar diagnosis (w/paperwork!) and 2+years of guided titrarion and complete withdrawal.

      Like the law, their bedfellows, the psychiatric industry’s language permits fluidity & contradiction for marketing and public opinion advantage at the expense of millions of lives, while insisting that diagnoses are cemented in impermeable absolutism….when it suits them.

      I’m living proof to the ‘outside’ world…most everyone on the ‘inside’ is unfortunately, already fully informed.

      BTW…the ‘miracle’ cure for bipolar disorder is, apparently….anaphylaxis…and the attendant liability and public attention THAT brings to psychiatric ‘medical concerns’.

      This should be front page, ‘above the fold’ headlines GLOBALLY…yet Not. A. Whisper from the august APA & NAMI-a ‘patient’s’ best friend.

      Report comment

    • Eric Coates, there is absolutely no reason for, as you say, the MIA editors “to spend thousands upon thousands of hours teaching the webzine’s various writers how to talk about psychiatric issues with any clarity while at the same time lacking the kind of consensually agreed-upon language that I have been advocating.” I have been happily stunned by the huge number of comments posted in response to my essay, about 99.9% of them positive. It seems that the wide variety of people posting comments had no trouble grasping the principles of my concerns or the extremely simple solutions I suggested. It only takes a few minutes to read my whole essay. I would be totally comfortable if the MIA editors wanted to ask all writers to read the essay…or if they just lifted the various solutions that I proposed — two of which were suggested to me by Amy Smith — and posted them in an “Instructions for Written Submissions” section that would be there permanently.

      Report comment

  44. Thank you so much, Paula, for bringing this problem up and for provoking such an impassioned discussion. I strongly agree with you that MIA, though I recommend it to just about everyone I meet, would be greatly improved by the flagging of diagnostic labels as fraudulent.

    Report comment

  45. What about someone that’s labeled as “schizophrenic,” that has behavior they don’t understand, behavior that’s completely non violent, who then has to deal with the mental health system, and NEEDS help? And yet when they are in their own innocent imaginative world, they are going to be called non reality based, something they can’t argue with the mental health system about without getting into trouble, if their mind is still looking for connections it hasn’t made yet, and might seem incoherent of psychotic. And then the whole “anti-psychiatry” legion doesn’t care to take that very phenomenon in enough to allow that same person to work out the very subconscious feelings that the mental health system discriminates against as if it’s a disease?

    What does that have to do with diagnosis or not!?

    Just fussing about diagnosis, could mean you’re still not taking that person in enough to help them not be abused by psychiatry, and you’re not showing that there’s another way. Just saying psychiatry is wrong, doesn’t show what works.

    Someone can get disability with a diagnosis, and then not have to deal with the society, the work situation, where they would be called crazy. They might eventually figure out what’s going on with them that way when anti-psychiatry taking over civilization might never have given them such freedom. I think there are quite a lot of people that have done that, but they would fall out of the radar and not be detected as having recovered or not anymore. And yet, whether someone has a job is seen as a sign of recovery or not?

    What if someone with such a diagnosis, goes through the whole process in order to witness what it is and turns it around, and if you witness “schizophrenia” in such a manner you show what it is for others who might be scared of it being a disease, which it isn’t. To just say there’s nothing going on with you, go chum up to the system and get a job, is also how homeless people then end up being treated. A “schizophrenic” might show how the whole system isn’t working, but not by criticizing, hating and judging the perpetrators of a non working society, but by showing how emotional wounds effect behavior, and if that’s understood they could be creating a society where the emotional wounds of the perpetrators of what would otherwise be a non working society ALSO are dealt with to change society or create a new one.

    Peter Breggin says that “schizophrenics” have spiritual experiences; well emotions are spiritual, they determine what comes your way or not in life, and that’s more objective than physical reality, unless you think that the future is a tangible physical reality already complete and warehoused somewhere. Emotions also determine healing. It’s also how people meld together to create a society or not.

    Just saying I’m not schizophrenic is not enough for me.

    Is a person that’s labeled as “depressed,” allowed to say that it gives them empathy towards the suffering of others, and that they then find they can be there to hear their story?

    And the rest of it.

    Report comment

  46. I agree, Paula.

    I know you and I have disagreed over the term “eating disorder.” I want to make this (again) publicly clear. ED needs to be taken out of the list of psych diagnoses and instead classified as a nutritional disorder alongside Crohn’s, Celiac, diabetes mellitus, and other disorders related to food intake. While starvation or erratic eating will certainly make you crazy, and for many, make our lives unmanageable, this psychological distress is a bi-product of a physical condition. ED in itself is the only DSM label that directly kills you. There’s no evidence that it’s a chemical imbalance of the brain, but a nutritional imbalance. By comparison, Crohn’s will make you weak, tired, and possibly depressed…but it seems to stay where it belongs…out of the DSM eugenics bible.

    Report comment

  47. I should also add that it makes me furious when MIA publishes articles such as, “Exercise effective for ADHD.” How about using terms like “ADHD diagnosis,” “bipolar diagnosis,” and so on, which would make it more clear that these are only labels, not human defects worthy of banishment from society.

    Report comment

    • Sometimes the article titles are from the journal or publication that published them. But I agree with you – I’d like to see articles with titles more like, “Kids enjoy school more when they have lots of exercise” or “Active kids learn better when allowed to be active.” Or even, “Kids who are allowed to be active are less likely to end up with an “ADHD” diagnosis.” We can talk about issues without labeling kids.

      Report comment

        • Some parents won’t listen. There are a lot of parents who are working on doing the right thing very, very hard. And the answers aren’t always as simple as to take away the video stimulation. Parents are fed a lot of bad information, and it’s hard to sort out what makes sense, especially when so many of them have been treated less than respectfully by their own parents growing up.

          Parenting is a tough job, but at the same time, parents should not be let off the hook for the damage that they may do, intentionally or inadvertently.

          Report comment

          • And when people talk about “parenting” they are letting them off the hook and they are encouraging child exploitation.

            “Parenting is a tough job”

            Parents often don’t listen the a therapist, but they will listen to a judge. We cannot let therapists play God, has to be court supervision.

            And the court needs to have realistic options, like something resembling an Israeli Kibbutz. This should be the norm, not the exception.

            Report comment

          • I’d be the last person in the world to argue against some increased sanity in the foster care system, as I worked as an advocate for foster kids for 20 years. The Kibbutz/commune idea has a lot of merit, and I’d love to see it worked out.

            However, I do think it is important to remind everyone that today’s parents were yesterday’s kids who were usually abused and/or neglected and/or misunderstood by THEIR parents (and other adults responsible for them). While there are certainly parents who overtly wish their kids ill, and I see no reason to have mercy on such parents, there are a hell of a lot more who are just passing on what was done to them. You are an Alice Miller fan, as am I, so you know what I mean. Of course, this does not excuse the parents from the damage they do – I personally find the “don’t blame the parent” meme offensive and destructive to kids (and adults) who are the victims of inadequate or abusive parenting. It’s not the kids’ fault that the parents had a rough upbringing, and the parents are responsible for not passing that on. But most do so inadvertently or unconsciously, and I therefore see no reason why sane approaches to raising kids should not be a legitimate subject of study, as long as we aren’t providing excuses for parents or other adults to continue harming their children with impunity. It is very possible to talk about improving one’s approach to child rearing without making excuses for the parent or supporting child abuse, neglect or exploitation.

            Report comment

          • Steve, it all goes round and round, the abused become the abusers.

            So where does it stop?

            Well people can do all kinds of stupid stuff, and then be forgiven.

            But where we have to draw the line is in using children.

            Now, we can’t tell people not to have children. They won’t listen.

            But when they do, and when their are problems, we hold the parents accountable. They are the ones who are not living up to their own values, they are the ones who are using pedagogy manuals to break the wills of children.

            No, this could not be punished criminally, but the parents can still be held accountable financially. No disinheritance, like it is in other industrialized nations. This will make a big change. It makes it harder to scape goat a child.

            And then we can’t eradicate the middle-class family, but we can mitigate it. A Kibbutz like Children’s Home, drop in center, temporary center, and the child having regular experience there.

            The reason we don’t have this today is because of the Self-Reliance Bogus Ethic, because children are being used to control adults economically, and this is completely unfair to the children.

            And we don’t have such things because they would serve all races and social classes, and so many are against such.

            We can’t change everything, but we can take apart this right so many feel to use children.

            A dependency court judge, a CASA, sometimes also the child having a lawyer, and therapists cannot operate in isolation, because they are being hired by parents, so they placate the parents.

            We can take apart this sense of entitlement to use children, and the justification behind it, in the talk about “parenting”.

            Report comment

          • I cannot comment as a reply to the comments I wanted to add this to, so I am adding it here. I was surprised by the Kibbutz comment, and looked into it a little. Here is an interesting article with links, about Kibbutz child rearing from one individual’s experience. I think her wondering why in fact Kibbutz communal sleeping, children apart from parents, came to an end is a valid one. Clearly, I think, this practice would not have ended had it been entirely positive. On the other hand, on balance the author is not complaining.

            I guess it did post where it belonged after all.

            Report comment

          • I am not sure you’re really getting what I’m talking about, and I find your comments here more than a bit dismissive of my reality. I ABSOLUTELY was encouraged to fully experience all the pain and confusion and loss that was the reality of my childhood, with tears and hopelessness and anxiety and angry swearing and the whole 9 yards. So your comment that therapists are always about stopping feelings or distracting oneself from reality is not accurate, at least in my case.

            Moreover, though this therapist didn’t specifically suggest getting involved in political activity, she certainly inspired me to understand how widespread my experiences as a child were and how important it was to try to change the real conditions that exist which create understandable fear, anxiety, anger, apathy and other strong emotions in children and continuing into their adulthood. It is fair to say that one of the first steps on my path toward political enlightenment was my engagement with this particular therapist. And led to my eventual career advocating for abused and neglected children in the foster care system, including getting a law passed to help protect them from psychiatric drugging.

            So while I agree with you on the fact that most therapy is crap these days, I don’t agree that all therapy can be categorized that way. I agree completely that feeling emotions that are repressed or intellectualized is essential to becoming a fully functioning human being, but I’d have to say that any therapy that does have that effect will help you get folks to the barriers protesting the injustice of the world.

            Report comment

          • I totally respect yours, Julie. I’m simply saying that therapy experiences are all different and that I have an issue with making gross generalizations about what therapists intend, even if in most cases it ends up being fruitless or counterproductive. Believe me, I recognize how fortunate I was to find the person I did! I also recognize that she could have taken the same approach with a different person and not gotten good results. (To her credit, she recognized and stated this to me as well.) It was a good match, for whatever reason, and worked for me.

            I also recognize that therapists such as Elissa would be much harder to find nowadays, since so many people have been trained and propagandized into the DSM model of reality.

            Report comment

          • Phoebe, Thanks for the comment.

            The Kibbutz Movement started because Zionists wanted to return Jews to the land. And they wanted women to be free from domesticity.

            So they set up these children’s homes.

            Sometimes these worked well, and sometimes there were problems.

            And some Americans have criticized the Kibbutz Movement.

            The biggest reason that its future is in question is simply because of the rise of the Likud Party and Neo-Liberalism. You could say, in Israel today, there are lots of ways to make money because since they have their national sovereignty, they have courts to protect absentee ownership. So it is no different from any other industrialized country, like say, the United States.

            So it is only a minority who are interested in the Kibbutzes.

            And fusing Zionism and Marxism always was a difficult project.

            As one writer put it though, the Kibbutzes, never more than 4% of the population, supply Israel with more than 1/3 of its elite military, and with 1/2 of its fighter pilots, a disproportionate share of its agriculture and manufacturing, and town wives schedule their pregnancies with the openings in the Kibbutz Day Care Programs.

            All I am suggesting is that we need to supply US children with group homes, and a couple of sets of back up parents. This is what gives the children citizenship, rather than forcing them to remain as property. They need to have back up, need to have other places to go.

            The reason we don’t have such today is because children have always been used to impose a kind of economic regulation on the parents, and because such a group home and foster program would serve those of all socio-economic levels and all racial groups. Many are deeply opposed to this, as they see children as property and as a source of adult identity.

            We can’t eliminate the middle-class family, but we can mitigate its effects.

            Report comment

  48. Julie, thank you for your posts.

    If a forum is using psychiatric diagnostic terminology without indicating that they do not go along with it, and when they are soliciting articles, commentary, and moderation from psychiatrists and psychotherapists, then they are collaborating with the mental health system.

    And if this is not bad enough, now we have to deal with articles and people promoting psychedelic street drugs, because they are good for “healing”, presumably healing of your perception of injustice, and because they don’t impair “social functioning”. Impaired social functioning is another name for ~mental illness~.

    So now abuse survivors have to also endure lectures about street psychedelics and their social functioning.

    Such articles and such people should not be on this forum, ever. In face to face life I would not have any dealings with people who promote such things.

    Justina Pelletier, 3 posts

    Report comment

  49. Julie, thank you for your posts.

    If a forum is using psychiatric diagnostic terminology without indicating that they do not go along with it, then they are collaborating with the mental health system.

    Would we tolerate use of Final Solution terminology, without some indication that they do not really mean it?

    And if this is not bad enough, now we have to deal with articles and people promoting psychedelic street drugs, because they are good for “healing”.

    Justina Pelletier, 3 posts

    Come Join:

    Report comment

  50. I did a search here on one of the most stigmatized and stigmatizing “mental illness” labels, “Borderline Personality” so-called disorder and the most recent article I found came out this past April, ( with absolutely no qualifiers like quotation marks (I call these DISqualifiers) and an attitude revealed that showed complete acceptance of a réified concept, writing as if “reality” of what the author called “Borderline Pathology” exists. I won’t go into all the many, many arguments that this label is only and completely iatrogenic, though I have seen the iatrogenic development of this supposed disorder a hundred times if I’ve seen it once. I only cite this article as evidence that MIA apparently thinks it needs 1) “scientific” backing by means of such establishment non-articles 2) Paula Caplan is right, that while MIA may state it is against such réified concepts as valid diagnostic labels, nonetheless it seems to want to eat the poisoned cake of DSM lies and “have it” too. Such cake needs to be swallowed and excreted as the “merde” it is, but once done, MIA cannot then claim a real harmless cake remains on the plate. (Sorry for this lousy metaphor but I just woke up and my brain is not sufficiently functional to come up with something better.)

    Report comment

  51. Do we know RW’s response yet? This is crucial.
    I would totally leave MIA because of the diagnosis-worship and social elitism, but I keep ending up with this “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” resolution. In other words, any attempt I’ve made to start a an online community fails. My project to create a collection of writings on forced psychiatry also failed and I took down the website. I know of others. Some are doing okay. It’s difficult. You need a lot of money to get something like this off the ground. To create a nonprofit you have to have already collected tons of money. Isn’t that ironic? To start an online forum you have to have tons of people willing to participate. I’ve thought and thought about it. Asked myself over and over how to start a community that doesn’t talk diseases and validates lived experience as expertise. I know there are a number of smaller online and local groups. MIA is incredibly visible and vocal compared to most of them. That’s why I keep coming back.

    Report comment

  52. Thank you so very much for your article. I obviously agree with everything you have said.
    Although I do want to touch on the “questions to ask a psychiatrist”
    The problem with that is, that most will slap a label on you or opinion as to what he ‘thinks your problem is. Or, better yet, he takes a person’s fears away by skirting, or outright lying….until you let loose and tell him things. Even his first impression counts, at least where I live since providers have every single visit to any doctor at hand.

    The other thing I don’t want people to get lax about is exactly what psychiatry is planning as they see their practice exposed. Everyone is so concerned about the lies about the “science” of psychiatry.
    Psychiatry is pushing hard for tests, that validate their ideas. And people will buy it because how is a layperson going to disprove the yellow blob on a spect scan, or the little thingy in a bloodtest?
    They will choose a random marker, and name it “mental illness” yet that random marker will have nothing to do with anything.
    We have to be careful of what we fall for, simply going by their greed and lies, power and force.
    What people will miss is that if they do start using tests, so called tests, their treatment of humans will not cease.

    It is the labels, even WITH evidence of a difference, THOSE are the problems, and the power given to them to destroy people on every level.

    Thanks Paula and thanks MIA

    Report comment

  53. “It’s obvious that the ignorant and malformed, whom only know of chaos and madness are incapable of making reasonable decisions for themselves or others. It is because these ignorant and inherently perverse madmen resemble the just nature of man, albeit incomparable to those who yearn for enlightment, us rational men who seek order and reasoning. Possess a moral and social obligation as the educated members of society to monopolize the decision making for those who lack the strength of will and character to do so themselves. Our subjects may resist our compassion, but it is because they can’t fathom the weight of responsibility we partake for the well-being of society, and the natural forces that compel us to act in their best interest.”

    -The Philosophy of elitism (the psychiatrist in this case).

    Report comment