The Problem Lies in the Term ‘Mental Illness’

Ekaterina Netchitailova, PhD

Recent events in the US, such as blaming ‘mental illness’ when really bad things happen, brought upon a very important but also quite challenging debate.

President Trump, following the mass shooting in Texas and Ohio, made a remark using the term ‘mental illness’ that many people suffering from what we refer to as ‘mental illness’ found distressing, untrue, and damaging for them.

These are really people that are very, very seriously mentally ill,” President Trump said.

The words caused an outrage and even led to a campaign on Twitter, with the hashtag ‘#IAmNotDangerous, with many people who identify themselves as ‘mentally ill’ sharing their frustration with blaming ‘mental illness’ for something which is truly incomprehensible and evil. We could read the following statements: “People with mental illness are statistically much more likely to be VICTIMS of violent crime. Mental illness is not the problem, guns are. I will not be your scapegoat, #IAmNotDangerous” or as was shared by Cara Lisette, who started the campaign: “Hi, I’m Cara. I have bipolar disorder and anorexia. Never once have I considered a mass shooting. These incidents we are seeing time and time again in America are not as a result of mental illness. They are a product of male entitlement and white supremacy. #IAmNotDangerous

Articles in the press appeared, with Mad in America also taking part in this very important debate, with an article by Robert Whitaker saying that blaming the ‘mentally ill’ is hate speech.

Exchanges between psychiatrists also took place. No, they all say, mental illness shouldn’t be blamed. Mentally ill people are indeed more likely be the victims of crime, rather than committing one. Statistics indicate that. Mental illness is, well, just an illness.

Having followed the debate with my diagnosis of ‘bipolar disorder’, inflicted on me by a couple of psychiatrists some years ago due to the fact that I have the tendency to come and seek help in a psychiatric hospital when I go too far into the parallel reality, I started to experience a real fear that all this debate is going in the wrong direction.

I was thinking that maybe this would be a perfect opportunity for all those people diagnosed with ‘mental illness’ to stand up and say loud and clear: “It isn’t mental and it isn’t an illness.” It is malaise, distress, spiritual seeking, anything but the damaging words that the term ‘mental illness’ contains.

I was thinking that maybe people who suffered at the hands of the psychiatrists (like I did) would finally look at the definition itself — what is behind ‘mental illness’? Look at what created stigma in the first place, and not continue fighting stigma with absolute and total cacophony. Shouting out “I am mentally ill and I am not dangerous” creates the same incomprehension as blaming ‘mental illness’ in the first place. But which ‘mental illness’ are we talking about? This is a question I always ask myself when I see the term, as I don’t believe in ‘mental illness’ and I find that it is the term itself which is extremely damaging. The word ‘mental’ is still mostly used by our society in relation to someone acting out of his mind. The Urban Dictionary puts this meaning as the first denotation of the term: “when something is absolutely insane, or just down right gnar.” Its additional meaning of matters related to the mind, acquires this sense only when it is used in a syntagm, such as in ‘mental process’, ‘mental calculation’ or ‘mental function’. While the term ‘illness’ refers to diseases and sickness. But what if there is no disease in the first place? There is ‘illness’ when scans show some brain damage, there is ‘illness’ when there are medical tests which show one, there is ‘illness’ when it is all grounded in precise rigorous medical evaluation and not based on words and the ‘opinion’ of a consultant psychiatrist.

As it stands now, however, ‘mental illness’ is a creation of psychiatry in its own imaginary and delusional thinking. Unless there is a test that shows some irregularity in the brain, in the majority of cases the diagnosis of ‘mental illness’ is delivered based on observation and exchange of words, if the patient is lucky. Usually, there is not even an exchange of words, but a quick decision of one single psychiatrist to inflict the verdict (such as ‘bipolar’ or ‘schizo’), put the person on pills, and release the highly sedated patient back into the community, to create more space for the upcomers. Beds are a problem (at least here in the UK), and the debate that maybe we should ease up on medication and psycho-drugs happens for now, well, only on Twitter.

The campaign as it stands now, even if created from the heart, by using the same language as psychiatry and recycling the term ‘mental illness’ again and again, benefits psychiatry, and not those people who come onto its radar — people who might start thinking at some point that maybe it isn’t an illness, and that maybe they can recover after all. But the psychiatrists clap their hands at this moment, because no one challenges the definition of ‘mental illness’ anymore, when it’s exactly what we should be doing. If we look at the DSM, psychiatry’s bible, it does list the disorders that can be considered as violent, dangerous and antisocial. We can also find several passages where it becomes clear that these diagnoses are based solely on one’s behaviour, and not in proper medical illness. This goes hand and in hand with real cases of distress and malaise, which continue to provide psychiatry its legitimacy. People do feel very bad sometimes, and they do seek help.

With my diagnosis of bipolar disorder, I am supposed to accept it as ‘mental illness’ and even look at it as like ‘any other physical illness’. If I look at the definition of it, as provided by psychiatry, it is a very severe illness, it is chronic and I am supposed to live with it shorter than the rest of the population.

However, as it stands now, I lead an active, mostly happy, and very fulfilled life. I work full-time, I write, I socialize, I take care of my son and my cat. I do take Seroquel, but at a dose that I came to by myself, a dose they sometimes prescribe to treat insomnia. It gives me safety that I don’t go too far in my exploration of the other reality. Psychiatrists didn’t help me in this choice. They have nothing to do with how I live my life with ‘bipolar disorder’, where I obtained a PhD, learned four languages, lived in four different countries, created a family, and enjoy seeing the occasional glimpses of the parallel reality. If I left it to the psychiatrists, I would be dead by now.

After my first ‘psychosis’, another damaging term that I use here only so that others can understand, I was put on a massive dose of Risperidone, which led to inability to enjoy any aspect of my life, and very serious suicidal thoughts. I stopped it, and had two years of tranquility, but still feeling scared. Apparently the state in which I came to the hospital, a state where I finally felt liberated from my childhood drama, and which healed me from a permanent gastritis, a state in which I saw angels, white doves, and met magic and the beauty of finally knowing that the parallel reality is true and real, was bad, shameful, and an ‘illness’. That state returned, and in panic I sought ‘help’, because I was told it was ‘an illness’. I was put back on a killing dose of antipsychotics, told again that I was ‘mental’, and released back into the community as an invalid. In subsequent years, I learned, all by myself, that it was insomnia I had to take care of, and my state of ‘psychosis’, a beautiful entrance into the spiritual domain, could be controlled by myself, if I wanted to continue enjoying my life, which I do.

All of this (my active life) has been a massive effort on my part, achieved only when I realised that I am not ill, it isn’t chronic, and that there is meaning in what they call ‘psychosis’. I don’t believe in the diagnoses, and I don’t believe in ‘mental illness’. If I did, I would probably be very miserable, on a massive dose of antipsychotics, unable to work or do anything else. I’ve seen what they do to people who believe in their ‘mental illness’, and it isn’t a nice place to be.

Therefore, I think it is important to start looking at the term of ‘mental illness’, rather than at how it has been used. Because if we decipher it, open it, analyse and study, we will come to something much more profound than: “I suffer from ‘mental illness’ and #IAmNotDangerous.

I have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder from which I recovered, I am not ‘mentally ill’, and I am not dangerous.

But those who commit mass shooting or any other hideous crime, do suffer from a sick mind.

We shouldn’t blame Trump for reflecting how the society judges ‘mental illness’. We should blame psychiatry for inflicting this damaging term on those who have no ‘mental illness’ in the first place.


  1. Ekaterina, great article. Thank you. You are exactly right that the problem lies in the term “mental illness.” The problem is psychiatry itself.

    Congratulations on your great accomplishments as well. Which languages do you speak? Which countries have you lived in?

    Also, what do you think of Thomas Szasz’s book “The Myth of Mental Illness”?


  2. I do not like the idea or term “sick mind” as it implies a medical problem that a doctor might attempt a remedy.

    People can’t say the word “evil”, can’t say people chose to be evil, they have to be “sick”.

    It can’t be a choice to do Evil, that’s not possible. Everyone is good!

    • I don’t think that you’re intending to imply that people in distress are evil, but that seems to be the connotation here, nonetheless. Notions of good and evil are largely based in religion and superstition and are generally harmful. The Bible considers suicide to be a major sin because it deprives “God” of the right to give and take life, so therefore it is “evil”. But this is just another way to target those who are legitimately distressed by intolerable circumstances.

      A different cohort believes that mindfulness is the correct path out of distress, with notions of radical acceptance and non-judgment. Your pain is not driven by external circumstances beyond your control but instead by your refusal to accept things as they are. A suicidal domestic violence victim is therefore expected to radically accept the situation and remain calm and solution-focused despite ongoing gaslighting, violence, control, and isolation. Victims of other traumas and problems of modern living are treated as similarly lacking this ability to radically accept hostile environments.

      A third cohort believes these distress signals and behaviors are a result of biological and genetic diseases only “triggered” by environmental conditions but that were otherwise lurking, waiting to strike the afflicted. Biological determinism, in other words.

      All of these belief systems fail to address the root causes of distress.

      I prefer not to dehumanize my abusers with terms like “evil” as well. My parents are/were deeply damaged people and also worthy of love. The intimate partners who have harmed me do not exist in the bucket of evil but rather had their own struggles that they, for various reasons, were not able to address. I do not need to accept my ex-husband’s violent alcoholism, nor do I need to think of him as an evil person unworthy of his own care and help out of his distress.

      The inability to see the nuance under all of the issues afflicting humans is one reason why people choose easy answers such as taking (or prescribing) psychiatric drugs in response to distress that would be better addressed in more humanistic ways.

        • Well, psych drugs certainly don’t help people make wise, kind or caring choices. And the self-shame that comes with diagnosis can make people give up on being good, make them believe they are fundamentally flawed, actually encourages fatalistic thinking, a la biological determinism.

          In recovering from the effects of psychiatry, there may well be a place for twelve step type thinking and action in terms of setting to rights the ill effects of behaviors displayed while drugged, even if they were unintentional – the concept of taking a fearless moral inventory, admitting wrongs done, making amends. One needn’t embrace any of the religious aspects to become accountable once one feels recovered from the damage enough to face such. It seems like a better approach than claiming one is diseased and unable to control oneself, which surely would only beg for more control over the supposedly “sick” individual.

      • I am sorry for the misunderstanding . No I did not mean that people in distress are evil. I was looking at the end of your writing when you wrote

        “those who commit mass shooting or any other hideous crime, do suffer from a sick mind. ”

        The ability to leave a relationship or location would relieve the distress in many people. Most are bound by lack of money/income.

    • Painful emotions perhaps?

      I used to struggle with the concept of “mental illness” when I believed it. Here’s why.

      There are real brain diseases. Traumatic brain injury, dementia, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, tumors, etc. These cause problems thinking and/or physical problems since the brain controls bodily functions.

      But take someone like Ted Bundie. He was clever and resourceful at the crimes he committed. Not cognitive problems but moral.

      Many shrinks say he must have been “bipolar” just like your eccentric, sweet Aunt Betty, or your mom who happened to have a really bad SSRI reaction that almost killed her thereby “unmasking” her “disease” (Can’t pill shame so it must be her fault.) According to many shrinks these law abiding women are exactly like the notorious serial killer and deserve to be treated like criminals.

      There is also the etymological trouble in the oxymoron “mental illness” itself….

    • Little turtle, I call my distress exactly what it is – distress. Fear and panic, feeling discouraged, guilty or ashamed, I am so familiar with these. (Aren’t we all, really?) I have a few special people in my life who swarm me with LOVE and validation and reassurance when I need it. Psychiatry made me worse, made me feel damaged, broken, diseased, unlovable. Indeed, my family discarded me as such. If your family doesn’t love you in your darkest moments, who will?

      As the Beatles once sang, I get by with a little help from my friends. There are no drugs that can deliver the healing balm that a few caring words or a warm embrace do for the psyche in moments of distress. Doctors and drugs are no substitute for community and human connection.

  3. Thanks for this great blog Ekaterina.

    Yes, psych labels are hastily assigned to a person based on the “word” or ‘feelings’ of a single psychiatrist. The so-called ‘opinion’ of a biased psychiatrist is simply a psychiatrist’s ‘feelings’ formed with little context and without knowing the person well – but presented as indisputable fact that can never be changed. That bizarre issue alone is the catalyst for all the harm that follows.

    So glad you survived the suffering psychiatry inflicts on so many and through your own wisdom and intuition found peace and enjoyment in life.

  4. The mental health system and the recovery movement try to make you personalize things. Shouldn’t ever say “I am not mentally ill”.


    “There is no such thing as mental illness. The idea was always just a way of delegitimating people. And I believe that it is better to find non-violent solutions to conflicts. But that does not mean that I am a pacifist. Revolutionary struggles do often prove necessary.”

  5. I agree with you, Thomas Szasz, and Thomas Insel, all the DSM “mental illnesses” are scientifically “invalid.” It’s all “bullshit,” as Allen Francis finally confessed, after millions of children and adults were misdiagnosed as “bipolar.”

    “We should blame psychiatry for inflicting this damaging term on those who have no ‘mental illness’ in the first place.” And all those who continue to believe in the DSM “bible,” which includes many mainstream doctors, psychologists, counselors, social workers, media personalities, politicians, religious leaders, and many others. Pretty much everyone who profits from psychiatry’s, outside the law, destruction and marginalization of innocent people.

    The DSM needs to be flushed, since all the DSM “mental illnesses” are “bullshit.” But once again, shame on psychiatry, and ‘noch ein anderes’ psychiatric holocaust.

    The truth is psychiatry should be abolished, because that industry doesn’t learn from history. And they repeat the worst of history, over, and over, and over again.

  6. There aren’t “mental” illnesses, but plenty of physical ones that induce “mental” symptoms. Naturally, psych drugs are definitely not “treatments of choice” for them, nor are psychiatrists preferred consultants, knowing little about physical diseases and conditions.

    • Truer words bcharris.

      The DSM has been repeatedly exposed but not yet tried in a court of law as Junk Science.

      Both new and old science are very clear that disease is caused by inflammation that is triggered both by stress (so this does dismiss of social trauma theory but lends it credibility) and diet.

      The false dichotomy invented to sell mental health has quite remarkably managed to con-vince people that there are 2 separate kinds of health in one human being; one for the head another for the body. Its great for business, but bad for humanity.

      There is a list of over 200 bona fide diseases (primarily autoimmune) called “medical mimics” & (psychiatric pretenders-Brogan) as well as some 200 drugs whose normal sequalea, symptoms are misdiagnosed as “MI”

      We know that improper diet is killing people and increasing see evidence that vegetarian/vegan diets cause numerous health conditions. Food is highly politicized & propagandized and the easiest way to control people’s health- hence mass intentional poverty. Food is life & health – period.

      The fact that people are being conned, labelled as mental patients, drugged & trapped in this toxic system- many for life, because they are suffering from vitamin deficiencies, inflammation from improper diet and chronic stress so an industry can earn a living off their ignorance is a “medical” tragedy and a crime against humanity.

      @19 “depression” is stress …change diet & suicide dissolves
      23 Ppl DIE stopping benzo’s
      42 Psychiatric is autoimmune caused by plants
      43 Jordon Peterson cured w all meat diet but still pushes serotonin lie

  7. While i know i dont really have an illness as such i have a condition. I react a certain way under extreme stress. Yes this could give me a chemical imbalance just like new mothers react post partum psychosis to the extreme stress of childbirth.

    I dont believe my psychosis is spiritual. I think the content of my psychosis reflects my lifestyle and generally how i perceive the world at the time which is distorted. i think if you kill in psychosis you have to be predisposed to it. Each personality is different the majority of people simply arent killers. The majority of people like me are vulnerable.

    We need support. Most families dont know how to deal with someone having this condition and there isnt the support out there.

    Sanctuary is most important. stigma surrounding people who have these conditions will take further generations to change.

    Can you do something yourself? Well i suffered feelings of flatness and then decided to go onto a vegan diet. This has helped tremendously. Even with withdrawals because im having the meds reduced.

    Do medications help? Yes they do for a lot of people.

    Is Trump right when he says shooters are severely mentally ill?. No! They could be suffering psychosis though and just have a predisposition to kill. They could be experiencing severe stress. We shouldnt all be labelled the same! The majority of people are basically good hearted.

  8. So I would suggest never going along with any ~mental health~ or ~Autism/Asperger’s/neurodiversity~. If they have made you feel that you need to deny that it applies to you, then they have already got you.

    And likewise, knowing when to use violence, and knowing how to use it, is just part of life. No reason you or I should be pressed to disavow it.

  9. Actually i believe i have a condition wherby i produce extra dopermine than other people when under stress. i ask to be admitted then refuse medication which is forced on me which further increases my stress levels then dopermine.

    The thing is there needs to be more studies with people suffering psychosis because its my experience mine doesnt last. Naturally. It has done in the past though and lasted for weeks.

    As for being labelled schizophrenic? I am glad my condition is recognized but society has to change not so much the wording. It will take generations to come just like it took people’s attitude towards HIV and Aids.

    I doubt very much exercise would have helped my first episode of psychosis. The right kind of therapy would have helped though if someone had explained to me and my family just what was happening to me.

  10. Actually one thing that has always bugged me why are people like me given regular weekly or monthly medications? Wouldn’t it be better to just give people the treatment when they have an attack.

    It seems the worst most of us do is act silly. Except I was known to abscond and disappear to another part of the country and I also could have got on a plane and left the country altogether. This is something I dread my son doing because I wouldn’t be able to help him and luckily so far he has helped himself when extremely ill.

    My husband had medication for 17 years and was okay and got his life together again. It wasn’t until he came off it he had a manic attack and was in hospital.

    Seems it is the old adage “Prevention is better then cure!”

    • Bippyone I would not advise you or your loved ones to just quit taking your pills cold turkey. Especially SSRI drugs or benzoes. Took me over a year to get off Effexor.

      I can think more clearly and socialize with ease I never possessed before as an adult. But I still developed a couple autoimmune disorders that may clear up in another year or two.

      • i did it because my psychiatrist at the time refused to help me. now i have a very forward thinking doctor and am doing it slowly but although i could i dont want to come off it completely. just have it reduced. Dr Richard Bentall sent me the scientific evidence once people like me produce excess dopermine under stress. when i tell people this is what i suffer from they understand and treat me with respect.

    • Bippyone

      Problem with PNR is it could exasperate W/D as it is well documented that starting, stopping, increasing, decreasing, adding or removing another p-drug or Allopathic toxin can increase likelihood of an adverse drug event. Given this, as Breggin states, the best choice is to never take these drugs to begin with.

      The entire medical model of labeling symptoms as attacks of “MI” diseases is deeply unethical & problematic on so many levels, specifically because defaulting to such silliness, fails to discover the root cause of the “attack”, experience, response, reaction etc. Or to ask and answer, what is causing this in the first place.

      Sillier still is that its illegal medical malpractice & insurance fraud to misdiagnose and mistreat people.

      The literature is overwhelmingly clear that vitamin deficiencies and a HOST of other common occurrences including exposure to toxins, prolonged dis/stress triggers inflammation that causes disease. It is those symptoms (which are the normal sequalea of bona fide disease, deficiencies or reactions to other stimulus) that are stupidly labeled “MI” that trap Med Mal victim in the system to be experimented on at whim.

      The only thing that could be more disgusting than targeting SYMPTOMS exhibited by anyone with a pulse, is if the MH system openly admitted that they were openly targeting Jews, Poles, Ukrainians, Soviet Slavs, POWs, Romani, PWD, Gays & Lesbians Political dissents,Leftists and Enemy nationals.
      The slight of hand with which they conduct the current genocides is so much more covert and deceiving.

      Run Bambi, run….

  11. Ekaterina (never noticed the “a” in there before), here is the original comment I posted, don’t know if you saw it:

    Keep in mind — the problem is also with any other term which means or is substituted for “mental illness.” (This includes “psychosis.”) And with any school of thought which claims there is an “it” which can be categorized and defined.

    I also included a more personal note I can relay via email (if I still have your email).

  12. Actually my husband was depressed and manic long before he was ever given medication and i started to be ill at age 17 and didnt see a psychiatrist until i was 23.

    We had a condition or illness whatever you care to call it. My husband went out manic during the night on his motor bike and almost died and ended up in intensive care. Never having been given medication before actually medication made him well. I watched him become manic when not on medication for years just like my son and like all of these conditions they are dangerous.

    Some people who are treatment resistant should be assisted to become drug free. And more research needs to go into this and more training by doctors and nurses.

    I hate being in psychosis. I hate being depressed, hearing voices, being manic and having delusions and paranoia. I see so many people suffering. Im glad to sleep through these episodes which is kind. i appreciate doctors and nurses working through the night and making it their life’s work to come to my aid. Although better training could be given. Here in the UK doctors and nurses dont make billions of dollars they are dedicated.

  13. Thank you for your thoughtful piece. I too prefer the term madness to mental illness and follow Szasz in thinking that mental illness is a misnomer. I appreciated the sentiment behind #IAmNotDangerous–the idea that someone diagnosed with say, bipolar disorder (as I am), is not dangerous–and tweeted something to that effect. But I also found it troublesome that the term mental illness was accepted without question.

    • Hi George! As long as we have media that sensstionalizes murder by people psychotic then we will have the stigma.

      i live in a small rural town and things i did in the past while ill are remembered but since my husband died i am building up a good reputation for myself.

      also media coverage is becoming more positive. Trump didnt really help by not sdding that the majority of people do no harm and here in the UK 2% of crime is committed by people like me who experience psychosis and delusions.

      which i think thst makes us extremely special individuals!

      the words “mental illness” and labels dont matter what matters is how the media cover it. That goes for literature, tv, large screen and social media. Social media is good overall.

      like i say i dont believe my psychosis or delusions paranioa voices mania or depression has ever been spiritual although sometimes were of a religious nature!

  14. Psychosis is a SYMPTOM NOT a disease
    some of many causes:
    1. dehydration
    2. being on ventilator or in hospital esp 4 elderly
    3. lack sleep
    4. vitamin deficiencies
    5. 500+ Allopathic & street drugs
    6. symptoms of bona fide diseases (IE: Myexademic madness thyroid disease)

    • i dont really care what label you give it a certain amount of celebrities including prince harry here in the uk are lime lighting mental illness. we still have those who kill and that is broadcast but generally i think the tide is changing. when i explain to people what happens to me under stress and those that know me treat me with respect. there is one guy in the shame department and is a jehovahs witness. other than that people treat me with the utmost respect.

      • The partial list of agents above, well documented to cause the experience called psychosis, are real human reactions to adverse effects on the human body (that happens to come part and parcel with a brain) and has nothing to do with “labels” so I’m not sure where you’re going with that, assuming your responding to me.

        I agree, like any elitist person or group (influencer) pushing MH propaganda, the Royal families campaigns are seriously problematic. Privilege often, but not always protects them from the death, disability and discrimination that the average test subject is at risk of.

        Respectfully, what’s harmful about your “perspective, belief” whatever you want to label it, is that medical malpractice and fraud, remains medical malpractice and fraud no matter how comfortable the so labeled person happens to be with the deception. And although pervasive, pseudo-science has no ethical place is so called health care.

        Unlike yourself, a great many others really do care what you label it, (them) because we personally don’t enjoy being conned, coerced, forced, harassed, drugged, injured, tortured and humiliated by false & historically discriminatory labels (no matter what guise it masquerades as, for any reason)

        • I think you hit the key point – people can label themselves whatever they want, and more power to them. But when credentialed doctors who have the trust of their patients and the general public start promoting “theories” they know to be wrong or speculative as if they are certain and settled science, they are being extremely unethical. And when their clients are concretely harmed by such deception, they have moved from unethical to criminal behavior.

          • I’m not in the least surprised that you can share this example of you helping someone to recover their life and being a major source of help, support and encouragement. As you have hinted previously, you’re the kind of person that struggles with turning your back on people and isn’t averse to getting your hands dirty. You would self-sacrifice without need for trumpet-blowing, social boasting, vested interest, monetary compensation, and so on. You do it because you are at heart a kind person that finds personal meaning in helping others.

            However, you weren’t all in with the guy as an antipsychiatrist. And you assume from personal bias that he’s always going to be better off abstaining from antipsychotics, when in fact, for some people, the enforced goal of abstention is an unnecessary cruelty that rides roughshod over their needs in order to make a fantasy triumphal gallop into the sunset of ideology.

            What I have come to understand is that for people suffering severe and enduring difficulties, formalised systems of care and support best work in alliances with those in close, caring and supportive relationships with the sufferers. What I think we’re lacking in the West is the encouragement and support and promotion of befriending/adoption kinds of relationships, in which people who have no-one in their life willing or able to stand in and take on responsibility for them, are not denied, cast out, failed, but helped by those that profess to know better, that demand more humanity, that scream loudly about how they were once hard done by, and that these people, once they have attained a state of forgiveness, can work in alliance with professionals, so that others can acheive what they feel was once denied to them.

            I believe lots of people are standing idle on this, and have got themselves trapped in echo chambers in which they are all waiting for someone else to make a move. When really all it takes is one person of conviction to be open to one other person that is suffering. In other words, just one person at a time. It’s not like there aren’t enough people available to do this. There is in fact a massive surplus, and large numbers of antipsychiatrists (and others with less redical views) with spare rooms, sofas, and sufficient resources to get by, maybe scrape by, but surely the focus is on human needs and human kindness?

    • Depression also can be a symptom of anemia, low thyroid levels, and digestive problems. None of these need psychiatry. Especially the last which the “go to cure” of quackery will only make ten fold worse.

      I know a woman with stomach problems who had so much trouble eating she got weak and lay in bed. Her doctor told her it was all a chemical imbalance in her brain and put her on an SSRI which messes the stomach up even more. Filthy liar. Or incompetent idiot at best. Some really are that “uninformed” to use Pies’s term.

  15. The term Mental Illness has no basis in reality. It is hate speech, designed to promote segregation and create a class division. Of course, the diagnoses are also hate speech, with the exception of “depression” so long as it is used to describe a stock market or weather event. Or mood. We used to say “depressed” which meant sad, down in the dumps, or just having a bad day. Wish it stayed that way instead of becoming one more fake disease.

    • This is ground zero of the pandemic.
      The problem is that very few people/organizations are willing to stop using the bogus terms mental health/illness, depression etc; even when they admit they are fallacy’s.
      As such, they inadvertently support the propaganda and fraud that has almost completely brain washed the public, begging for more money to support mental health on parity with health care – also a misnomer.
      Sick care is killing us and anyone who missed that, is asleep or in a coma.
      Its difficult to un-drink the cool-aid.
      I have attempted to discuss this with several lawyers – otherwise intelligent, typically highly skeptical people, trained to seek evidence before opining on something so fundamental life altering as slapping a stigmatizing, stereotypical, discriminatory, historically damaging & potentially deadly words on living breathing human beings. Yet they are, as a group, willfully blind in their ignorance & complicity and whole heartily joined the ever growing one world failed theory to add their voices to the collective begging to be included as “invisibly disabled” professional, with yup — chemically imbalanced brains suffering from mental diseases.
      Do lawyers have a duty of care to discover, know and tell the truth and to use that evidence to protect the healthy and safety of humanity? Apparently not anymore than lying drs’ do. They’re too busy protecting the massive systemic risk to the medical/legal system that literally revolves around and profits from the use of DSM junk science to justify labeling millions, medically kidnapping kids, imprisoning the masses …while strategically choosing who will/will not be held accountable because some crimes (rape, violence) are socially sanctioned because they play a vital social role in keeping women impoverished and yep… mentally ill because someone else chose to harm them.
      The world is unjust by design and that alone is a crime against humanity. Words are the primary tools we use to shape shift reality to do our bidding, regardless of and in the absence of the truth. And in between the stages of learning and knowing fact from fiction, no one, no one should ever be held accountable to suffer the costs, losses and hardships inherent in being falsely, fraudulently labeled as a mental patient without medical/legal evidence proving the same. Doing so is against every universal and man-made law claimed to protect us from the very situation we find ourselves victims- yes victims of. No one, no one should ever be held accountable to the specious pseudo-science smearing people in any kind of crisis, as if they were mentally deranged without proof, most especially NOT in a court of law.
      The terms MH/MI are as discriminatory and abusive as any derogatory slur ever uttered – even if and even when they claim not to be intended to do so, perceptively because intention is NOT a required to be guilty of discrimination- only the affect on the discriminated party matters.
      There is no cut off valve between the body and the head. There is but ONE being and but ONE health – human health.
      Stop the lies, tell the truth, change the world.
      Its as simple as saying… “the symptoms diagnosed or labeled as mental illness.”
      If you don’t or won’t, its only a matter of time before people who know better will start wondering why you won’t and more so, what benefits you gain from refusing to do so.
      I for one wonder.

  16. Ekaterina,

    I’m honestly not sure why I NEVER saw my wife as ‘crazy’ or ‘mad’ or ‘ill.’ I don’t like any of those terms, and I really don’t even care for the attempts to take back ‘mad’ and turn it into some kind of badge of honor or ‘in your face’ retort.

    I see my wife as traumatized, no more or less than someone who suffered a severe body trauma like my brother-in-law who fell 30 feet in a hurricane and crushed one side of his body and spent years in rehab and surgeries and still struggles with issues caused from that. My sister and he still have to deal with those issues, but no one looks at him like something is wrong with him because of his injuries. The entire family accepts his struggles and limitations. My sisters tells about the period where she had to ‘wipe’ him after he’d go to the restroom because he couldn’t do it himself. They are ‘in it’ together just like my wife and I are in her issues together, and yet I’m told ‘something is wrong’ with my wife because of her struggles, and they wonder why I don’t feel like being around them much…sigh.

    I’ve often wondered about the various reactions of people to other’s struggles, but I typically assume it tells me more about them than the person struggling.

    • there is something wrong with both your brother in law and your wife both have been traumatized. To say they have nothing wrong is belittling them as human beings with extrordinary life threatening conditions. Both need complete care. Both suffer. Whether you call one a paraplegic or one a schizophrenic what they suffer from is equally devastating. In my experience most medical staff i have encountered appreciate this.

      • Hello Bippyone,

        I do understand what you are saying and absolutely agree with your statement, but I think my use of ‘wrong’ had a different intention.

        Today’s biochemical model of mental health posits that some people are fundamentally flawed, in their dna, and they are ‘broken’ without any hope of ‘repair.’ Whereas the paradigm I use is the trauma model. I believe that what is ‘wrong’ with my wife is the result of trauma, and with love, help, and strong attachments she can heal.

        Restated: the biochemical model says there is a category of people broken, ill and fundamentally flawed. The trauma model just believes the mental distress and other issues like my wife’s d.i.d. are not ‘inherent’ in the person but the natural cause of pain and fear from life’s traumas and those CAN be healed.

        So the best I can tell you is we are using the same words but they have radically different meanings.
        I hope that helps!

        • Hi Sam Ruck, while I so hear what you are saying would it was so easy as to give our loved ones all the love we could muster and they would be cured with kindness and affection. I and my husband loved one another deeply and we loved our son and our parents certainly loved us but unfortunately it did not stop there and we became, and i know of no other word to describe it, ‘ill’.

          When we were children both my brothers, my sister and I were traumatized but only two of us became ill. There is no other word in the English dictionary to describe it except insane, mad or crazy and I prefer the words mentally ill.

          The theory is unlike others we produce extra dopermine in our neurotransmitters which affects our synoptic clefts in our neurons because of the trauma which makes us vulnerable to psychosis and the other symptoms. It isn’t just a case of cheering a sad person up, it isn’t just a case of giving the person all the love and affection in the world, if they are
          under stress they will become ill and it will make no difference.

          One thing you could do for your wife is to make sure she is no longer under stress but this is hard to avoid as life has its ups and downs.

          My husband stayed well for 17 years even under stress because he was medicated before he died and in his words he had a good life. I hope your wife makes a full recovery and has a good life too!

          • Hi Bippyone,
            you are correct that it takes a lot more than a nebulous ‘loving someone’ to help them thru extreme forms of mental distress and trauma, and I’m sorry if I watered down my reply to the point that it looked simplistic to you. I wish there was time and space here to tell you all the ways I have systematically and intentionally helped my wife heal thru some of the worst ‘extreme states’ you could imagine, but my doing so required no medication and though I would have been happy for additional help, as her primary attachment figure, the majority of responsibility was always going to be on me anyway, though our son was a huge help in the beginning.

  17. You had me until the end. I wholeheartedly agree with you that “mental illness” is not illness and this is the crux of the problem. The term and all the diagnoses reify human struggles and imply they are diseases that make people do things (e.g., “bipolar causes mania”). But at the end of your essay, you said those who perpetrate the mass shootings suffer from “a sick mind.” Minds cannot be sick. And though we might use “sick” metaphorically here, we can also use “mental illness” metaphorically. But, that is the heart of the problem. Those figurative phrases are taken literally by most people. Sick minds do not cause mass shootings. Using that phrase allows us to overlook the very real factors involved in violence. It is no different than saying “the devil made me do it.”

    • i agree chuck ruby it is a fact that people naturally suffer psychosis and whichever way you look at it people who have it lose touch with reality and its like being in a sleep state while being awake. then there are delusions and everybodies delusions are different. delusions are scary psychosis is even scarier.

      if you are a killer then you will kill when deluded or you will become violent. the whole majority never are violent. i dont believe the medications can make you do this. Unlike Dr Breggin although i firmly believe he is a remarkably compassionate doctor.

  18. There is stigma with the term ‘mental illness’ i get exposed to it all the time. I got to thinking about words in general. How the word ‘racist’ describes someone who hates people from another country. How the word ‘homophobic’ describes someone who hates gay people. I cant think of a word that describes someone who hates the mentally ill.

    Would appreciate someone on here letting me know if there is such a word?

  19. RE: #IAmNotDangerous

    Lots of solid research in psychology which demonstrates why pushing a negative has the opposite consequence. So you say to someone, “Do not think about an elephant.” And then all they can think about is an elephant.

    Likewise with pushing the above hashtag. All it achieves is people thinking about dangerousness, way more than they previously were likely to.

    And humans are a dangerous species. We are given to all kinds of violence, in all kinds of ways, most of which is subtle and concealed.

    So to claim non-dangerousness is quite a claim. I’d like to see some qualifying evidence from someone making this claim. Of course, they won’t be able to supply any evidence to substantiate the claim. And if I demanded it they’d resort to some form of subtle violence. That’s pretty much guaranteed.

    An additional dilemma: do dangerous people always know that they are dangerous, and how likely are they to self-identify to others as dangerous?

    Surely a dangerous person would be more likely to self-identify as non-dangerous than an actual non-dangerous person?

    In a very rudimentary social psychology sense, identifying oneself to the group as non-dangerous is likely to instill suspicion in the group. It may also act as a driver of bias, effectively ensuring that the group perceives dangerousness in the person claiming to be non-dangerous.

    All humans are potentially dangerous. All relationships and social settings are fraught with danger.

    You are potentially dangerous. I am potentially dangerous. Let’s trust Life and take some risks!

  20. Pushing the negative does indeed have the opposite consequence.

    The “mentally ill” have already been identified as dangerous by men claiming to be experts on millions they have never even met.

    I prefer “Innocent until proven guilty” myself. And I don’t call myself “mentally ill.

    According to Expert Shrinks “bipolar” and “schizophrenic” are synonymous with violent murderous monster. Why identify as “violent murderous monster”? That’s Torrey’s slanderous accusation. He doesn’t know any of us from Adam.

    And funny how no one asks shrinks to prove they are not dangerous.

  21. Rachel777 i have never heard a psychiatrist say that people they diagnose are dangerous. Never heard one ever say that.

    i am quite happy to believe that myself i have a condition whereby i produce more dopermine under extreme stress rather than believe i just cant hack it.

    i feel better for believing this.

    i find sometimes medication works for me. saying that it should always be a personal choice whether someone decides to use it or not with informed consent.

    • So you haven’t heard of Tim Murphy, Fuller Torrey, or countless others who have written articles and gone on national television demonizing the “severely mentally ill”?

      Many who willingly take psych pills are upset about being called killers. But maybe it’s different over the pond.

      I refer you to RW’s most recent article.

      • The people who most demonize the severely mentally ill, moreso than anyone else, are the severely mentally ill who commit monstrous crimes. These are the people from whom all stigma spews forth.

        The problem then is one of predictive accuracy. Who else amongst this group is going to be the next to commit horrific acts of crime against the innocent?

        It the the public, by and large, who pressure their elected members, and their police forces, and their systems of Law, to “do something about it.”

        And so, to win votes, to be seen to be serving the public, and for justice to be seen to done, it is psychiatrists and mental health systems that are the last in line of pass the buck. Families generally pass the buck on to them too. Lovers, husbands, wives, daughters, friends, colleagues, neighbours… everyone passes the buck over to psychiatrists and the mental health system.

        Because when push come to shove, hardly anyone is willing or equipped to take on the challenge of the severely mentally ill. It is a significant, life-changing, restrictive, challenging and potentially dangerous choice to make, to help someone severely mentally ill, without the resources and legal protections of a governmentally-sanctioned system.

        So the buck is passed until finally it’s a psychiatri team. And our severely mentally ill person in front of them. And there’s maybe a history of violence. Delusions involving threats or plans of violence. And a clock that just won’t stop ticking. The very clock that everyone passed along with the buck.

        Now, you sort that out. Break free of whining in the text box and get out into the real world and sort that out.

        • What do you propose “Outside the text box”?

          Like many survivors I’m frequently housebound from iatrogenic damage. And the draconian laws in America make it unwise to “come out” as a psychiatric survivor.

          I have my plans. But I prefer not to discuss them here.

          • What I propose is to take up the gauntlet thrown by PacificDawn.

            I think you should do what everyone on here should do. Put your money where your mouth is, and take on a person society has deemed severely mentally ill. Kind of adopt them. Bring them into your life and apply your insights. Relinquish them. Free them. No calling the cops. No calling them nasty names. No labelling them with derogatory terms. No violence. No mindgames. No reacting to provocations. No turning your back. Stick by them. Guide them. Tolerate them. Demonstrate in the real world why there is no need for psychiatry, for mental health laws, for commitment, for hospitals, for drugs, for risk assessments, for disability status.

            Demonstrate in action why a severely mentally ill person (ie on here, a fiction) is better off with you than existing systems of support and/or curtailment.

            No institutionalising. So no Soteria. No team-work, no shift work. So no professionalising. No drugging. So no violence. No compulsion. No safeguarding. So no taboo about harm to self and others. Including you.

            Then, after say, 12 months. Tell the world how it went.

            For every hour spent tapping repetitive condemntations of existing systems is an hour wasted in helping someone in the real world and putting your convictions into action.

            Just to add I’ve witnessed big talkers attempting to do this, a number of times. Each and every one of them behaved like despots as soon as things got tough. But not you. Not anyone here. You are different. You know better. I know this, because most days you’re telling the world that you know better.

            So demonstrate it. If anyone here did this just once, I’d be more inclined to consider them sincere. Which is only fair of me, all told.

            Because the biggest problem lies in the expectation that people have that those in peril and disarray will be helped by others. That they are sympathetic to the plight of the mentally ill but only in abstraction, as an idea, always many ways removed from the actual person. That is must always be someone elses’ problem. And that they know better but never so well as to become intimately involved themselves. The problem of the critic is that they are non-creative. They don’t wish to get their hands dirty. But they know an awful lot about how others should go about getting their hands dirty. What we’re talking about here are human beings, that need other human beings. That need help and recognition. And that if mental illness doesn’t exist, then perhaps the bigger problem is that basic human care and self-sacrifice to others is itself diminishing. Wishing mental illness away doesn’t help anyone. It’s not the best metaphor ever conceived but so far it’s the only one that actually brings support and sympathy to people.

            Where is the support and sympathy happening amongst the people here?

            Who is actually caring and self-sacrificing and demonstrating that their claims have any validity outside of text and talking?

            A minority, from what I can gather. And no-one so far as I can see you’d deem antipsychiatry seems to be doing much for the severely mentally ill at all. Unless I am wrong?

          • I have done this, actually. Just heard back from the guy today. He’s doing a lot, a lot better than when I started, but it’s taken years. He was in and out of “hospitalization” and on lots of drugs, now has worked for a year plus in construction, is studying, is able to communicate effectively with others, not using, has made amends to a number of people he’s hurt… still on a very low dose of “antipsychotics” to stave off withdrawal, but tapering gradually. I had no professional relationships with this guy. He was a friend of my oldest son, but everyone had disconnected from him and I was the only one who believed in him.

            So yeah, it happened.

          • RR,
            I’ve done this for the last 11 years with my wife, and I’ve publicly shared the journey and what I/we’ve learned on my blog. You are welcome to come and see what you think. I welcome dialogue and even debate on it.

            But our experience is so completely different than what I read on this website that we aren’t even in the same universe when I read experiences, understandings and solutions on here. And so I’ve had to realize I will always be an outsider here and seen skeptically rather than embraced as someone able to point the way to the very things this website seems to desire…

        • rasselas.redux,

          “It is a significant, life-changing, restrictive, challenging and potentially dangerous choice to make, to help someone severely mentally ill, without the resources and legal protections of a governmentally-sanctioned system.”

          It can be done, but I agree there are few out there doing it, and I find it extremely sad that no one on any side of the debate seems to care about our perspective and what we’ve had to learn and do to make it thru this journey with our loved ones.

          • I agree it can be done and it is done, the world over. Only we don’t get to hear much from these people doing it.

            Also, to clarify, I don’t personally think it is possible or even sensible to propose or attempt to help anyone with severe mental illness and not have legal protections, and input from professionals of all colours and approaches, as part of a network of care and support and perspectives and in some cases, safeguarding. Maybe it is possible for some people, and if it is, for some people to be helped entirely without input from conventional systems… but I think when supportive systems are available,a nd working well, person and needs focused, that is the best way, centrainly for those people considered to be the most complex and the most in need.

          • “Working well” is the key phrase here. The vast majority of conventional systems do not “work well” for the majority of those exposed to them. The WHO cross-cultural studies bear this out. A person who hears voices is far better off (in terms of effective help) living in Brazil or Nigeria than in the USA or Great Britain.

        • Connecting “severe mental illness” with “monstrous crimes” is not only stigmatizing but factually incorrect. And you wonder why nobody wants to “adopt” us.

          The biggest barrier to these kinds of projects is funding, not lack of desire to help people. When the majority of Americans cannot afford a $400 emergency, how are you expecting people to do much more than cheerlead? The majority are suffering – by design of a system that prioritizes self sufficiency over cooperation.

          I have had a desire for some time to establish an intentional community for psych survivors, but doing anything outside of the system takes funds that most survivors don’t have, including me, since of course, household wealth is not the same as personal wealth.

  22. Hi Sam Ruck, although i understood my husbands behavior totally there was nothing in my power i could do to help him when he became manic although on one attack i nursed him at home but i think although i tried he had to be admotted in the end for hos own safety.

    He literally went into orbit and out of reach. i couldnt deal with him at all and had to have him admitted.

    Also the last time my son was delusional he terrified me and the cats. What was i suppose to do under those circumstances? I had to call for help.

    • Hi Bippyone,
      hmm….written responses are so difficult to convey meaning…and none of what I say is meant to criticize what you did…so I just want to say that up front…

      But when I talk about understanding what was going on with my wife, I kind of meant it in a more technical way, though still in laymen’s terms. For example, when my wife went catatonic, I had to learn that what actually happened was one personality left executive control, but no one else came out to take control… so the “lights were on, but (literally) no one was home’ or out front. Once I figured that out, it just became a matter of me calling or pulling another girl out, and the catatonic issues were largely resolved.

      When my wife suffered ‘mini-seizures’, well that was a different issue. That was more like a computer program that had glitched while changing programs…and my wife had ‘glitched’ when switching from one girl to the next. And so I learned to ‘help’ her thru the switching and the seizures ended.

      The flashbacks and panic attacks were another issue. That was caused by the overlapping of past, dissociated, traumatic memories that were controlled by one girl breaking thru to another girl who was in executive control on the outside. And so I had a number of ways, mostly based on attachment theory’s understanding of safe haven and affect regulation, to calm her and help her integrate those new memories in the ‘overall narrative.’

      I also had to learn that some part of my wife was ALWAYS accessible, even when it appeared otherwise on the outside. And so even if she didn’t respond, I would still speak to her, using my attachment points to remind her she was no longer alone, she was safe now, etc, etc, etc… And so I learned to effect healing even when she didn’t appear to respond to me.

      So it was a matter of becoming able to diagnosis what was going on internally with her, and tailoring my response to her current reality…and little by little as I provided her that safe haven, affect regulation and proximity maintenance, the trauma memories no longer overwhelmed her because she had the additional support of my presence, and so she could slowly integrate those memories into her overall narrative…and thus they were no longer able to overwhelm her from a dissociated area previously inaccessible to her.

      Clearly, I can’t tell you what was going on with your husband or son, or make any judgments about you or them, but by walking this journey WITH my wife and learning to listen and become ‘in tune’ with her, I was able to facilitate some pretty dramatic healing to the point that most of the ‘extreme stuff’ is a distant memory and we are only dealing with tearing down the vestiges of the dissociation between the various girls, and that requires another, different approach based on attachment theory’s understanding of the inner working model.

  23. “All head honcho shrinks know it’s safe to scapegoat us for every bizarre crime that happens. They know we aren’t dangerous. So they keep doing it.”

    Rachel777, I agree with you. This was why I so objected to the apologetic and appeasing stance taken by some trying to oppose the Tim Murphy Bill.

    Need to make people see that they are not by nature defective, they have been in situations where they were being used.

  24. Ekaterina Netchitailova wrote: “[…]radical change can only come from within and from outside together, including medical profession, psychologists, survivors, and peer workers. For instance, the stance of the Ministry of Health in Belgium in rejecting the system of diagnoses, is a step in this direction, in some countries, in some places.”

    Belgium aren’t proposing to reject the DSM system of diagnoses. What they are reforming is the over-reliance on formal diagnosis, and also thus overdiagnosing, and moving from the old way of doing things (categorical diagnoses) to dimensional approaches (biopsychosocial psychiatry). So instead of symptoms, it’s rating scales. And the plotting of those scales over time. So, in some ways, more numbers and less words.

    Most NHS mental health systems in the UK have been incorporating dimensional approaches too, for some time. For instance, formulation is now a common approach to people’s assessments. Instead of focusing on symptoms, and presentations, it’s about taking a more broad view of someone;s life history and current and potential future problems, and plotting a biopsychosocial path to recovery. So at the heart of most peoples care planning will be a recovery-focused package of care, rather than something entirely symptom-focused.

    This to avoid overdiagnosis, stigma, pessimism, and wasted resources that don’t help people recover. But they will go on with diagnosing the core group of severely mentally ill, just as before. Only those with milder symptoms will not fall foul of labeling, if only because categorical approaches pretty much demand diagnoses in order to provide care, and dimensional approaches don’t.

    I agree that this is a good development across European healthcare. It will mean a lot of people avoiding stimga from unnecessary diagnosing. And better use of resources. But it will not spell the end of diagnosing DSM illnesses in Belgium.

  25. Generally, I think its peoples’ treatment, usually a drug taking regimen, that they don’t end up recovering so well from.

    All diagnosis is over diagnosis where non-existent diseases are concerned. The treatment leads to iatrogenic damage, which coupled with habit, leads to more treatment.

    You’ve got your alternative services and your bio-psychiatric services in competition, but the result is the same thing, an increased patient population, more and more medicalization. Mental health itself is basically medicalization, that is, the provision of medical treatment for non-medical problems.

    Given the absurdity of such a situation via such a system, I can only advise people to get out of it.

  26. hi Frank Blankenship, you do agree though whatever the cause people suffer from conditions. And you recognize this? Whatever you call it it has to be recognized. What do you do if there arent nurses and doctors involved and available where do people go for help. You do recognize people need sanctuary? What would your alternative be to medical care?

  27. Hi! Rachel 777 i do not believe in lock up wards and for many years when being an in patient the wards werent locked. You were free to come and go.

    i remember my husband took me to meet his family from the ward and we caught a bus.

    it was much easier to discharge yourself

    the OT workers had a Variety Sunshine Bus that took us on days out.

    the wards were locked after 11pm