With the majority of Americans focused on impeachment, on December 19 the White House quietly hosted a summit entitled “Transforming Mental Health Treatment to Combat Homelessness, Violence, and Substance Abuse.” The summit took a strong anti-civil rights and anti-housing tone, focusing primarily on expanding the power of state and Federal authorities to involuntarily treat unhoused persons, drug users, and people with serious mental illness diagnoses and disabilities. 

President Trump himself made a brief appearance and gave some remarks, where he waxed nostalgic for the institutions of his childhood and called for them to be rebuilt:

“And we must give major consideration to building new institutions. You know, when I was growing up in Queens, in New York, we had a number of mental institutions. And I’d look and I’d see these big buildings. And all of a sudden, you go and you don’t see them anymore. And you say, ‘What happened to all of those beds? What happened to all of that work? And where are those people?’ And in many cases, those people are living on the streets. It’s much different.

“And somebody made the decision a long time ago and they did it for budgetary reasons, but we have to take care of our mentally ill. We have to help people that are having problems.”

In language similar to statements he made in the wake of mass shootings last August, Trump went on to say:

“At the same time, we need to keep very dangerous people off our streets. And we want to take care of the mental illness, but we have a lot of very dangerous people on our streets.”

A Sustained Assault on Civil Rights and Bodily Autonomy

The mental health summit opened with remarks by Steve Wagner, a top HHS official who has played a key role in managing the family separation crisis at the U.S. border, where a rising number of migrant children and adults, including those diagnosed with serious mental health conditions, have died in U.S. custody due to neglect.

In November, a Federal judge ruled that the U.S. must provide counseling and support services to migrant families who have been traumatized by the administration’s deliberately-orchestrated family separation and detention policies. 

Wagner announced Federal expenditures for mental health programs as part of the $1.4 trillion budget bill that Trump signed into law on Friday night, including: $120 million for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA); $200 million for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs); and $19 million in funding for Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT). AOT is a euphemistic term for Involuntary Outpatient Commitment, programs that force persons diagnosed with serious mental illness to accept treatment utilizing the “black robe effect.” Wagner said that these line items were a “down payment” on a “much larger set of reforms,” adding: “There is much, much more work that needs to be done.”

A Narrow Historical Reading

Celebrity internist “Dr. Drew” Pinsky provided an historical overview for the summit, which he said was “heavily” informed by E. Fuller Torrey’s 2013 book American Psychosis: How the Federal Government Destroyed the Mental Illness Treatment System

Pinsky’s remarks centered largely around building a case for reducing the standards for involuntary treatment; or in his words, “closing the gap between ‘harm to self or other’ and ‘need for care.'” He roundly condemned historic efforts to advance the civil rights of institutionalized persons and people with disabilities. Raging against the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, signed into law in 1967 by then-California governor Ronald Reagan, Pinsky proclaimed that it “maintains the silent genocide on our streets.”

The Lanterman-Petris-Short legislation created minimum basic standards to protect individuals from being indefinitely warehoused in facilities or institutions and treated against their will. It is widely considered to be the model for involuntary civil commitment procedures nationally.

“Our civil rights have outweighed the self-evident need for treatment,” Pinsky said.

Pinsky used the term “anosognosia,” originally meant to describe the “lack of insight” into their condition characterizing persons with traumatic brain injury, dementia, and other neurological conditions. Pro-forced treatment advocates have co-opted the term primarily for political purposes, naming it as a symptom of schizophrenia to further justify involuntary care. 

“But when the same condition — the same symptom — evolves in the setting of a psychiatric illness, we privilege it in the law. We privilege it. And we protect the patient — we protect that symptom — from allowing us to get us to get at the patient to prevent them from dying. Drug addicts get anosognosia. Manic psychosis — anosognosia. Schizophrenics — anosognosia. It’s the same biology as in dementia, encephelopathy, and other brain conditions.”

Pinsky’s language is also consistent with ongoing advocacy efforts on the Federal level to get schizophrenia reclassified as a neurological condition requiring involuntary care. Meanwhile, the very way that schizophrenia has been scientifically constructed is being questioned: Jim van Os, a professor of psychiatry at Maastricht University, is part of a growing number of professionals around the world calling for the end to the concept of schizophrenia. Such professionals say that the lack of reliability or validity in the schizophrenia diagnosis should move us away from understanding it as a discrete brain disease, and more as a spectrum.

Dr. Drew referred to the existence of “armies of professionals” who are “well-equipped to help us.” In reality, advocates widely agree that mental health care professionals are in short supply, and the system is stretched to its breaking point. The sector faces chronic workforce shortages and high levels of staff turnover. And most professional associations and state credentialing bodies do not mandate mental health professionals to receive any training in critical skills such as suicide care, even as the U.S. suicide rate rises. 

Pinsky said from the podium that he had promised Trump’s new homeless czar Robert Marbut, who was in attendance, that he’d share Marbut’s thoughts on the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest“Our country watched this and thought they were watching a documentary.” After some audience laughter, Pinsky clarified, “They were watching a fictionalized account, a movie, about an imaginary institution.” The film, despite its fictional nature, is widely credited with helping to open Americans’ eyes to the ongoing realities of institutional life.

And as Kathy Flaherty, director of the Connecticut Legal Rights Project, wrote in 2018 in the Hartford Courant:

“Psychiatric hospitals are facilities where people who are there, in theory, to get help for a medical condition are subject to violence and trauma — in the form of involuntary medication, restraint and seclusion, disrespectful treatment, and, in the most egregious cases, physical abuse. People remain unnecessarily institutionalized and segregated — in violation of their civil rights — because community based services and supports are inadequately funded.”

While Donald Trump has frequently been diagnosed from afar by psychiatrists, a controversial practice, there were no actual individuals with disclosed psychiatric histories participating in the summit. If there had been, there may have been a different response to Marbut’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest quip.

Clinician and writer Rachel Levy, MSW published a blog on Mad in America about a recent survey on experiences of hospitalization in the Pacific Northwest. The survey questions were based on an earlier survey of 500 individuals, also published at Mad in America. The majority of the 84 respondents to the Pacific Northwest survey reported feeling disrespected in the hospital, and said that conditions there did not feel safe or secure. Over fifty percent of the respondents reported that they had been involuntarily hospitalized, and the vast majority either agreed or strongly agreed that their experiences in the hospital could be considered “traumatic.”

Pinsky admitted at some point that the hospitals of the past were “not in great condition, underfunded and understaffed.” But as the above survey responses indicate, this description is not a relic of the past, and holds true today, in both the public and for-profit mental health care systems. Universal Health Services: Behind Closed Doors is an ongoing campaign run by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to draw attention to how America’s largest for-profit behavioral health chain maintains chronic understaffing in the name of cutting costs, routinely jeopardizing both staff and patient safety. 

Pinsky’s views on expanding forced treatment, which usually includes a forced psychiatric medication component, may be influenced, at least in part, by his Pharma ties. The television doctor has taken money from Pharma on at least one known occasion. In the late 1990s, Pinsky began using his celebrity platform to market the antidepressant Wellbutrin for a non FDA-approved purpose as a libido-booster, without disclosing that he was being paid to do so. That Pinsky had received $275,000 from GlaxoSmithKine only became known in 2012 through documents disclosed over the course of a $3 billion settlement between the DOJ and the Pharma giant regarding fraudulent prescription drug marketing practices.

“The Need for Reform” Panel Pushes Anti-Civil Rights Agenda

Following Pinsky, the “The Need for Reform” panel further reinforced his forced treatment message, and condemned a wide variety of groups from the civil rights and disability rights community. DJ Jaffe, founder of MentalIllnessPolicy.Org, told the audience:

“Meet with your police, meet with your sheriff without mental health people in the room, so they don’t have to be politically correct and they can talk about the real issues that need solving. And in order to solve the issues of civil commitment and assisted outpatient commitment, we have to stand up to the ACLU, to Bazelon, to Disability Rights, to Protection and Advocacy — to many mental health groups who believe that being psychotic and delusional is a right to be protected rather than an illness to be treated.” 

John Snook, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC), a nonprofit organization that has worked for nearly two decades to expand involuntary outpatient and inpatient treatment, followed Jaffe. While Snook made mention of the need for a “full continuum of care,” his remarks focused largely on involuntary and most restrictive forms of care. 

“Congress needs to eliminate the discriminatory IMD Exclusion,” Snook said. “We need to have a baseline of places to get care that we can build the system from.” The IMD Exclusion was enacted at the beginning of the Medicaid program in 1965 to de-incentivize states from continuing their historic overreliance on institutional care. 

At one point in his remarks, Snook acknowledged former Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa), who was sitting in the audience. Murphy was the primary driver of TAC-aligned legislative efforts in Congress beginning in 2013. He continued in this role until he resigned from Congress in 2017 amidst a personal scandal, which was followed by widespread allegations of staff mistreatment. While Murphy’s most authoritarian reform efforts were significantly impacted by advocacy among disability and civil rights groups, many of his provisions were folded in some fashion into the 21st Century Cures Act, which was signed into law during the final days of the Obama administration.

Snook mentioned advocate Kerry Morrison, whose visit to Trieste, Italy’s community mental health system, was profiled in the Los Angeles Times. Snook related that Morrison told him, “They have a whole new model for how we treat mental illness. Why don’t we try it here?”

The Italian “Trieste” model is not new. Since it closed its institutions in the 1970s, Italy has largely been able to realize the promise of de-institutionalization, with a focus on building a strong voluntary, easily-accessible community-based system. As early as the 1980s, the “revolutionary” Trieste model began to attract the attention of the media, policymakers, and doctors in the U.S., but it never gained any sort of traction in America.

Today, Trieste is a World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Research and Training in Mental Health, which means the site helps the WHO teach countries how to do de-institutionalization. The Trieste model is based on the motto “Freedom First,” representing a significant departure from the currently prevailing involuntary treatment policy direction.

The final speaker in the “Need for Reform” panel, Houston, Texas-based Christian author and neuroscientist Matthew S. Stanford, spoke about the role of faith-based communities. Stanford was quoted in 2016 in the Southern Baptist Texan as saying that parents should not allow their transgender children to transition because “the science shows us that doesn’t really help” and “that’s not what God intended.” Family rejection is a commonly cited factor in high rates of transgender youth suicide in the U.S.

The “Need for Reform” panel was moderated by Dr. Elinore McCantz-Katz, head of SAMHSA and Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, a position that was created through a provision in the Murphy legislation and folded into the 21st Century Cures Act. In 2017, Tim Murphy sharply criticized McCantz-Katz on C-SPAN due to her prior SAMHSA involvement, calling her a “swamp alligator.” Tim Murphy’s pick had been Dr. Michael Welner, a self-described “forceful ambassador of forensic psychiatry” who argued after the 2014 Isla Vista shooting that parents rather than the courts should have the legal ability to “direct treatment” of their adult children with serious mental illness diagnoses.

A Punitive, Racialized Approach to Homelessness Looms

A common refrain from the pro-forced treatment advocates at the summit was that “four walls” are not the solution to the crisis. Dr. Drew slammed such efforts in California during his presentation: “The vast majority have serious mental illness and drug addiction. Four walls are not going to do anything, if they would even go in.”

This rhetoric is consistent with the policy direction of the current administration, which with the appointment of Marbut earlier this month, signaled a move closer to a law enforcement response to the housing crisis. Marbut, who has been known to oppose feeding unhoused persons, has been described as a “real life horror” by housing advocates. While the administration’s plans remain under wraps for now, advocates fear an executive order that would criminalize people living in homeless encampments.

According to CityLab, advocates say that the government is looking closely at ways to turn former correctional facilities and federal buildings into shelters and to move unhoused persons away from urban centers, one of several punitive efforts being engineered by the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, along with with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

A report issued by the White House in September on the “State of Homelessness in America” signaled a clear shift away from Housing First, the non-coercive supportive housing program favored by advocates and previous administrations. The report pinned homelessness on causes ranging from the over-regulation of housing markets to the “tolerability of sleeping on the streets.” Housing First was criticized because the program gives unhoused persons “supportive housing with no preconditions” and they “do not face requirements as a condition of retaining housing even after they have been stabilized.”

“I believe in Housing Fourth,” Marbut told HuffPost in 2015.

Robert Marbut
Robert Marbut. Source: LinkedIn.

Questions of race loomed large but remained largely unspoken at the summit, with panel participants and attendees being overwhelmingly white. People of color are disproportionately subjected to homelessness and mass incarceration, the ongoing consequences of the war on drugs, as well as the restrictive interventions and forced treatment proposals discussed.

Karen Lincoln, an associate professor of social work at the University of Southern California told CityLab in September: “It seems like the [Trump administration’s] approach is going to be more punitive just because of the way that African-American and poor people and Latinos have been constructed in the current rhetoric of this administration.”

The summit followed just one day after the Congressional Black Caucus’ Emergency Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health issued a report entitled “Ring the Alarm: the Crisis of Black Youth Suicide in America.” In a news release, the task force’s research lead Michael A. Lindsey, executive director of the NYU McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research, said: “Alarming trends among Black youth have been overlooked as America grapples with rising suicide rates.”

80 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Leah, thanks for the article.
    We know that psychiatrists have wondered about the “mental health” of the leaders.
    Is it possible that we are all “MI”? of course it is. And we all express this “MI” in different ways.
    And they are right. it IS about “insight”.
    If you can only see “MI” in others but not yourself, therein lies the evidence.
    I gather Pinsky does not consider himself as “MI”, nor does he consider Trump as “MI”. Where is the “insight”
    It is the most dangerous of all if you lack insight along with want and ability of power over millions.

  2. This is a good post and the general public will fall for Trump and Pinsky’s words. The only real way you are going to link violence to psych and other drugs is via a Cytochrome P450 gene test.. that is where you will prove an individuals metabolising enzymes is not able to inactivate drugs because they have a poor CYP450 phenotype and were/are/going to be toxic. It seems no doctor wants this test, including those who know full well the harm (akathisia/toxic psychosis) of psych and other drugs… what are they afraid of… that it could be used retrospectively, to bring to light, that even they might have caused a horror show? Who will offer this test independent of doctors ?

      • My question is how many homeless people are receiving the best of psychiatric treatment even when the sidewalk is their pillow night after night?

        Just like mass shooters in psychiatric care while they plot out their murder/suicides. A whole herd of elephants in the living room.

      • Well Steve, I know that crime has always been part of humanity, and inside each dog lies an ability to bite. The circumstance needs to be right/wrong.
        I do notice that the crime they speak of are only the crimes that are committed person to person.
        Not crimes against humanity by powers that exist to make financial or land gains.
        None of the people that robbed and pillaged, enslaved, got rich on the backs of the poor, none of them committed a crime.
        They can spread hatred, exclusion, shaming, lying, killing, but if it is done by the powerful, then it is never a crime, nor mental illness.
        Interesting how that works.
        Any surprise that citizens who commit crimes might have learned from the best?
        Perhaps it is want of the very same power allotted to some and not others?
        Crime has always been of passion or greed, not mental illness. Unless of course we call those traits mental illness.

        • How to be a respected psychiatrist.

          It’s essential to wear a nice lab coat, have clean finger nails, never raise your voice (you can scare people into submission without shouting.)

          Flash your MD around. From the only medical field that accepts people who swoon at the sight of blood.

          Forget losers like Louis Pasteur and Alexander Fleming. Song and dance numbers outweigh facts. Make like P.T. Barnum.

          Remember a happy mark won’t give much repeat business. Give them something highly addictive with as many side effects as possible. With luck you’ll get to sell 3 drugs for every original drug you put them on. 😀 That’s a cocktail of 9 meds for your average Bipolar case. Cha ching!

          Remember–only do horrible things in socially appropriate ways.

          • Excellent Rachel,
            I do think you need to write a book, or a play, a movie script.
            We have the fringe festival here.
            Wonder if you have something similar.
            A play, including your above post, would make excellent fringe material.
            Beauty of fringe is, you can write and act in it, it’s your baby.

  3. Pretty disgusting. Dangerous people on the streets? Does this mean that anyone not on the streets is less dangerous, because that might be the opposite, actually. Plants, they also don’t live in houses, they might be dangerous too, MORE GENETIC ENGINEERING!

    Perhaps those behind desks devising ways to make money off of the trend to ignore the mother earth (which also doesn’t live in a house, can you imagine how dangerously homeless and uncontrolled by societal dogma such a creature as the mother earth is?), perhaps those behind a desk might be more dangerous. Maybe they should have an experiment and put those behind desks in the situation those who are homeless have, and see whether they are dangerous then or not. And let the homeless run the system, instead, but then they might know it isn’t working to begin with, and might change things too much.

    That someone who is homeless, or someone unable to adapt to a system that’s raping the mother earth, or someone that’s expressing trauma as trauma that they are a danger is utter fallacy of judgment, which I would insult those labeled as such to call crazy. One is supposed to get points for denying what trauma does because it’s supposed to be a social disciplinarian device instead, giving them the right to persecute anyone expressing trauma as trauma.

    But when you get away from the system, you notice that there’s something much more worthwhile there when you just let go of all of i, because it’s never going to work. Those deemed as crazy or dysfunctional to it, are already one step ahead of finding what it is to be real, and human. The Universe is allowed to blossom in their soul.

    • Most serial killers live in their own homes, hold down jobs, and even have families.

      I also object to “Doc” Drew’s nonsense that “All the ‘mentally ill’ people enjoy being homeless.”

      It reminds me of how racists say “People of ethnic group X enjoy living in the high crime district.”

      I am afraid of homelessness for crying out loud! Been having nightmares about it. Lots of “consumers” are. A friend of mine kept begging to be sent to a “home” because her frontal lobes were too messed up on her cocktail to keep the Marine-style level of cleanliness and order that HUD demands and most people would find challenging.

      It’s safe to assume Drew wants nothing but state hospitals. Basically prisons rife with every abuse imaginable–including rape.

      WTH is wrong with Drew? It’s a safe bet HE never talked to them or any of his victims. Can’t humanize ’em since that would be unprofessional.

  4. Leah, thank you for this article.

    The article quotes DJ Jaffe, founder of MentalIllnessPolicy.Org, as he spoke to the audience:

    “Meet with your police, meet with your sheriff without mental health people in the room, so they don’t have to be politically correct and they can talk about the real issues that need solving.

    This is frightening.

    There’s an opinion piece on MindFreedom written by psychiatric survivor Pat Risser in November 2008. The article is called “Psychiatric Survivor Inside A Police Training Conference.”

    https://mindfreedom.org/kb/police-mental-health/

    The article chronicles Risser’s experience in this police training conference, but because the conference was overwhelming narrated by NAMI and the medical model, Risser’s points were lost in the overall messaging of drugs and forced treatment. He writes:

    Some attendees seemed almost puzzled because I wasn’t typical medical model. I spoke of discrimination and prejudice. I spoke of how the system oppresses mental patients and teaches them learned dependency. A few seemed to understand.

    Then I went out and interacted with others at the rest of the conference and I got more and more scared.

    The conference left Risser with a message that we all need to hear:

    I recalled another fanatic group in the 1930’s and 1940’s who used the muscle of a heavily armed law enforcement branch to impose their will. I started to “flashback” to scenes of goose-stepping authorities imposing oppression on those they deemed different and not “pure” – people sort of like those of us who have been labeled as having a brain disease caused by an impure mind due to a chemical imbalance.

    I watched the disingenuous smiles of the NAMI folks and I realized that I’d come face to face with the enemy. Those of us who are part of the movement for human rights in opposition to psychiatric oppression need to beware because, unbeknownst to most of us, NAMI is literally building an paramilitary army out of law enforcement that will be the enFORCEment arm of involuntary treatment.

    • Thanks anomie,
      I find that article by Risser so sad, not only frightening.
      I can completely understand how he felt. To be the only
      normal one in a house of fanatics is an awful feeling.
      Because the way the MI system works now is exactly
      like the klan mentality.
      Purifying society.
      There are a lot of criminals out there with guns, many wear uniforms and are nothing more than bullies trying to control themselves.
      The people he spoke to have closed minds, so it really is rather pointless.

      You cannot change a fanatic’s views.

    • So does Jaffe advocate telling police to not be afraid of shooting anyone accused of being “MI”? If not, this is still the result. Not that he would care.

      Are the folks running NAMI that dumb or do they want to get their loved ones shot if the drugs don’t work fast enough. 25 years is a long wait for an annoying “loved one” to die.

      I’ll never forget a commenter here who supported AOT and said she was glad her “mentally ill” daughter would die young and didn’t care her life was ruined by the drugs because she was happy forcing her to live hopelessly dependent in her basement forever.

      Why isn’t that woman considered a menace? She’s the one with messed up thinking. Her “crazy” daughter wasn’t the one saying that crap about her.

      Isn’t wanting your adult offspring to be crippled, unemployed and living in your basement forever pretty bizarre? But that’s the ultimate NAMI mommy wet dream. Creepy.

  5. Dr. Drew’s ignorance and arrogance is profound. Watch this conversation I had with him on his live call-in show about benzos (starts at 1:01): https://youtu.be/tCRyVHF5Lrw I wonder how many millions of patients have been ripped off of benzos by their doctors both historically in psychiatric hospitals and recently as outpatients. Their withdrawal reactions are of course not properly diagnosed nor believed, and they are further drugged for their “underlining mental illness”. Dr. Drew clearly thinks that doctors know best, when in reality they are blind to the harm they cause.

      • Exactly.
        First off, Dr Drew is the kind of people that turn me off immediately so I’m not interested in listening to him.
        It’s America of course which has a lot of “reality” shows.
        It is easy to spot self absorption, which can come from being valued too much by mommy and daddy, and perhaps learning the hard way in school that you are not that special after all, but returning as an adult to the, “I’m going to show all of you”. But underlying, is always the ego trying to prove something, to always have a need to put yourself over others.
        There, simple diagnosis. Is arrogance and ignorance in the DSM?

  6. Dr. Drew’s ignorance and arrogance is profound. Watch this conversation I had with him on his live call-in show about benzos (starts at 1:01): https://youtu.be/tCRyVHF5Lrw I wonder how many millions of patients have been ripped off of benzos by their doctors both historically in psychiatric hospitals and recently as outpatients. Their withdrawal reactions are of course not properly diagnosed nor believed, and they are further drugged for their “underlining mental illness”. Dr. Drew clearly thinks that doctors know best, when in reality they are blind to the harm they cause.

    John, thank you for posting this. What “Dr” Drew is advocating – a cold turkey off benzos – is horrific. He didn’t even mention the fact that coming off benzos cold turkey or rapid taper can cause seizures and even death.

    “Dr.” Drew stated that all sorts of drugs could be used to alleviate the withdrawal from a sudden discontinuation, including Neurontin and mood stabilizers. You mention in your conversation with this “doctor” the likelihood of many people becoming “mental patients” due to benzos. That’s such a key point. I imagine the majority of his “patients” come off benzos and become life-long “mental patients” labeled with “bipolar” or “schizophrenia.”

    This MiA article quotes him as using the term anosognosia to describe the “mentally ill” as lacking insight. I have to wonder how many people he’s disabled or killed with the type of brutal “treatment” he advocates, while at the same time, calling it “medicine,” not torture.

    I’ve been through cold turkey benzo withdrawal and there are no words to describe the sheer hell of that experience.

    With “Dr.” Drew’s celebrity status, his message will be what’s heard. I’ve never seen his show “Celebrity Rehab,” but I’m sure the drama of pulling someone off a benzo cold turkey makes for good ratings.

  7. As someone with 11 years of lived experience, that is living with someone (my wife) who would be considered to have a ‘severe mental illness” I 1) don’t consider her dangerous, 2) don’t consider her crazy, 3) and don’t consider her biologically, mentally ill and in need of drugs to ‘control’ her. I am truly horrified by this push of Trump and Dr. Drew in the wrong direction.
    Sam

      • The “untreated” “schizophrenics” might get into trouble for stealing a loaf of bread, or a pint of milk but are not generally speaking, even as dangerous as the average person.

        Even “schizophrenics” that “act out” on medications (akathisia) usually do so by going into a corner and quietly suiciding.

        Unfortunately there are lots and lots of completely normal Americans, now living in worse than 3rd World conditions of destitution (much the same as the destitute “schizophrenics”).

        • Untreated, treated. How does it look past tense. Both and all are capable of crimes.
          We see more crime based on very important factors. One is inequality, and I deeply suspect that one factor is the separation of families and the drugging/changing the brains of kids.
          So I guess they keep doing more of what never worked.
          All these yahoos are not giving new ideas, only a scenario of worsening outcomes.
          I guess the officials are not committing crimes against humanity by caging kids from the border, letting people die in captivity.
          Imagine being nothing more than a gong show, going home to a pretentious life and blaming crime on MI.
          Everyone knows that authoritarian figures whether through myths or some idealism have committed the most heinous crimes. And they ALWAYS result in many deaths.

  8. Despair, sadness, hopelessness are not diseases, or illnesses (unless we call society a disease) even if they cripple people.
    Despair, hopelessness can turn into anger.
    Anger is not a disease.
    Anger and frustration can kill people.
    Psychiatric treatments lead to anger and frustration, but refuses to admit that.

    Some people need lifelong support, not treatment.
    Each time you treat people’s reactions and behaviour as a disease, or illness of the “person”, it will fail. No matter how much science intervenes.
    Society itself IS the disease and illness and as such, cannot diagnose itself.
    Happiness or fulfillment cannot be found in a society that arose out of greed.
    If we go back into history, the forefathers who raped these lands, are they the model of sanity?
    Do we suppose that their power over the native people of the land modeled sanity?
    Or the importations of slaves? Was that the model of sanity?
    After all, our countries rulers and ourselves all descend from that garbage.

    No one, including powers that be, is safe. It is only a matter of time before world war 3 breaks out and there are only so many bunkers. And the insanity of society has never had anything to do with what and whom the religion of “normal” shifts focus on.

    They might make the vulnerable suffer for their lifetime, but eventually everyone’s life ends.
    And in my bible, there is no proof that you will remember your joys or sorrows.
    I cannot imagine living the life of pinsky, drew, and others and miss out on being able to do good things, good things that raise people up instead of keeping them down.
    To me, that is the reflection of a sad life. An illusionary, disillusioned sense of right and wrong for society that really at the bottom of it all, has ZERO to do with crime or mental health, but a very self absorbed, greedy, arrogant personality that was brought in by the ship of rape and pillage.

  9. People also need to be aware of the cuts proposed to the SSI/SSDI budget in 2020.

    Perfect plan paired with criminalization of the homeless. Will the trains and camps follow?

    It’s eugenics all over again for the crazies.

    Comments are still being accepted. Please add your voice.

    https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2019/12/a-national-disgrace-trump-proposes-social-security-change-that-could-end-disability-benefits-for-hundreds-of-thousands.html

    • furies,
      it’s not a plan. It’s delusion.
      Planning looks nothing like this.
      It is haphazard diversion.. because I don’t think we are all that bright. We discovered we could think and greatly overestimate because we only have ants and rats to compare to. (You know, those stupid animals).
      They simply create a system that creates pitfalls and those who fall through the cracks, too bad.
      They are trying to cut funds EXACTLY because of the mess they created. They created the lower class, they created the myth that MI is real.
      It works like a pyramid.
      They might even think it’s “survival of the fittest” to try and justify their ridiculous delusions.
      If we had a UN that actually worked for a living and started with protecting children, not from parents, but with the parents, perhaps we could get somewhere.

      • Sam

        I like “…started protecting children, not from parents, but *with* the parents.”

        I like that…I have seen a lot of CPS crimes up close and personal. Nuclear families are a bust–we have been purposely divided up into little islands of issues to keep us from being strong together. How about supporting parents better so the stresses of life in these here unitedstates doesn’t play out as more dysfunction?

        When I was forced to go to counseling when in grade school due to the chaos and violence in my life at home, my abusive mother was given a complete pass and the ‘problem’ was me. Only to repeated in various scenarios thruout my adult life.

        What if my parent had received more help for the difficulties in her life?

        No justice no peace

        Black is white Peace is war Up is down etc etc etc

    • People also need to be aware of the cuts proposed to the SSI/SSDI budget in 2020.

      Yes, this is an excellent point, furies. This has to do with austerity politics, not the mythology of “mental illness.” It’s an economic issue, not a medical issue. Gentrification and cuts to HUD are major factors.

      I found this part of the article troubling:

      A common refrain from the pro-forced treatment advocates at the summit was that “four walls” are not the solution to the crisis. Dr. Drew slammed such efforts in California during his presentation: “The vast majority have serious mental illness and drug addiction. Four walls are not going to do anything, if they would even go in.”

      This Democracy Now clip shows a more intelligent view of what’s going on in California – “Nothing Ends Homelessness Like a Home’: Advocates Slam Trump’s Attack on SF & Homeless People” –

      https://www.democracynow.org/2019/10/3/homelessness_california_trump_attacks_water_quality

      It’s clear that “four walls” will do a LOT for these folks.

      Anyone who’s on the street will be sleep deprived, malnourished, afraid, anxious, all things that could appear to be “mental illness” if that’s how it’s narrated. An effective way to “other” people for the crimes of capitalism.

  10. If they (law enforcement enthusiasts, puritanical moralists, religious fanatics, social conformists, narrow minded hypocrites, domestic tyrants, and stuffed shirts) build them, they will fill them (psychiatric institutions). I suggest that we do everything we can to prevent them from building them.

  11. https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/world/living-in-her-car-she-was-afraid-and-harassed-then-she-found-an-unexpected-refuge/ar-BBYj1MD?ocid=spartanntp

    How do we keep these people off the streets? Put them in jail? In institutions? Somehow that is cheaper than jobs or affordable housing? There are no jobs or affordable housing for these people. I think they are most likely to be more well adjusted than pinsky, drew or trump. Can’t see any one of them enduring living on the streets. Give it up,
    there are no jobs. Of course everyone would be okay if we could all earn what they do.
    Give someone a minimum wage and expect them to live in apartments that cost $2,500?

    • HUD costs less due to fewer staff.

      Of course letting these people become gainfully employed so they can afford their own housing is not an option.

      I was gainfully employed at 17. Went to college and took a full course load and PT work at the campus library. Then I saw a shrink, took his pills and stayed awake for 21 days. Labels, more drugs than ever, unemployment…
      Struggling to work with a chronic illness from home.

      I still think psychiatry is exacerbating–if not causing–the homelessness epidemic. And benefits are being cut because almost 30% of the population is iatrogenically crippled/barred from working thanks to “Doctor” Drew’s colleagues. All the mental workers swore up and down if I took my “meds” religiously I could find gainful employment and maybe even get married.

      But it all depended on unquestioning obedience and taking whatever drugs my shrinks dished out. Even if they caused seizures, uncontrollable vomiting, heart problems, strokes, etc. 😛

      There are more jobs now. Sadly though, my autoimmune condition from 25 years on drugs makes many of these impossible. I can no longer work as a cashier due to bodily weakness and chronic pain.

      • Rachel, I think society, it’s governments and all institutions cause homelessness. Psychiatry makes an ENORMOUS contribution after and alongside.
        I doubt there would ever be enough jobs to employ everyone, and it’s not realistic to think that the low wages of a lot of jobs are even close to meeting any decent standard, plus the monotony of jobs people are forced to take that have nothing to do with their interests.
        The majority seem to get employment in areas they have no interest in, but would not be such an issue if inequality was not such a huge factor.
        It is convenient to create “illness”, because it employs more people. More cops, more beds. It almost encourages becoming jobless. actually it does.
        And now with medicating our future adults to be, they will continue to put the blame on “those people”, yet they know exactly where it lies.
        It has always been difficult to accept responsibility for failure, for most people. Communication as to solutions is not on the table. It always seems to be about blame, never working together.
        The powerful usually want the last word on what it is we need.

        • I found work recently. The economy is better now.

          But I couldn’t keep the entry-level job due to old age and long term damage causing my autoimmune disease.

          Creative freelancing will allow me to “come out” as a survivor more easily. I have made a vow to do so in 2024.

          Leaving California would help those folks a lot. Housing is way more affordable in my state. $20,000 here goes further than $50,000 in the Sunshine State.

    • Steve and Rachel, what you both write is so true.

      I’m very frightened by what Pinsky says here (bolding is mind):

      A common refrain from the pro-forced treatment advocates at the summit was that “four walls” are not the solution to the crisis. Dr. Drew slammed such efforts in California during his presentation: “The vast majority have serious mental illness and drug addiction. Four walls are not going to do anything, if they would even go in.”

      When this messaging is considered gospel by the people and the legislatures, then it’s going to get bad, I mean, really bad for those trapped in the “mental health” system.

      I’m reminded of what Szasz wrote in his book Thomas Szasz: Primary Values and Major Contentions where he described the ideology of Edward Banfield.

      Szasz quotes Banfield:

      “However, much of the violence in lower class life is probably more an expression of mental illness than of class culture. The incidence of serious mental illness is greater in the lower class than in any of the others.”

      Szasz explains what this really means:

      I’m surprised that Banfield has not yet been awarded the order of merit by the American Psychiatric Association. Perhaps he has not because his statements about mental illness are more extreme than even the APA would now dare to offer. Banfield’s assigning all persons who share in the lower class culture to the category of the mentally ill is reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition’s declaring, in the second half of the sixteenth century, the entire population of the Netherlands to be heretics and sentencing it, en masse, to death.

      Edward Banfield was an adviser to three Republican presidents: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan.

      Drew Pinksy is Trump’s Banfield.

      We desperately need a movement to end psychiatry, as this is something that clearly couldn’t – and shouldn’t – be reformed. It’s simply too dangerous to leave people like Pinsky as advisers to anyone in power.

      Antipsychiatry gets rid of not only the message, but also the messenger.

      • An institution is four walls. Pinsky should have this pointed out to him.

        They are very wrong to say all the homeless enjoy being that way. Krista didn’t choose homelessness. Nor did Julie Greene or me. Yet we nearly wound up that way because psychiatry prevented us from gainful employment.

        By deliberate crippling with their cruel, pointless experiments. And promoting bigotry as Pinsky is doing. How is one supposed to find/keep a job when Pinsky and his ilk are out to sabotage all efforts and terrify neighborhoods to promote NIMBY even after finding jobs?

        • Psychiatry promotes hatred. And they are completely aware of this and are trying to cover it up by the catchword “stigma”.
          neat. They invent harm and keep doing it, but then tell the public to be gentle with those MI folks.
          They not only pretend there is MI, but pretend there is rampant stupidity.
          When in actuality they ONLY possess power, nothing more, nothing less.

          I see in Canada, 2015, 50 million scripts were written for psych drugs. We have 35 mil people.

  12. If anyone is interested, C-Span has video coverage of the “Mental Health” summit:

    Part 1:

    https://www.c-span.org/video/?467561-1/white-house-mental-health-summit-part-1

    Part 2:

    https://www.c-span.org/video/?467561-2/white-house-mental-health-summit-part-2

    I could only stomach this in small pieces at a time due to the enormity of the propaganda. I noticed in Pinsky’s talk he’s finding ways of trashing the importance of the Rosenhan Experiment, the work of Thomas Szasz, among others, while conveniently leaving out the work of Loren Mosher (the Soteria Project) and Bruce Alexander (the Rat Park experiments on drug addiction). Not to mention the utter BS coming out of Ben Carson and DJ Jaffe.

    What DJ Jaffe talks about in Part 1, starting about 36 minutes into the video, is very dangerous political propaganda.

  13. great article, thanks for putting it together. i am the victim of psychiatry as this year i was involuntariy committed, physically abused and denied basic rights like access to a toilet, i was restrained, severely traumatized, drugged with 13 different medications in a 9 day period, had my firearms rights taken away for life, and after all this they let me go saying i suffer from no mental illness. i am now suing for $35 million dollars in federal court

    • Keep in mind that this is not a Trump phenomenon. Drew, Torrey, Jaffe, etc. are NOT Republicans. Psychiatry is a project of the faux-“left.”

      So, who’s ready to fight this shit?

      Yesterday the progressive news show I love so much, Democracy Now, had a show advocating forced “treatment.” It’s hard to watch your own side put out this kind of dangerous disinformation, but it’s the world we live in.

      https://www.democracynow.org/2019/12/27/bedlam_documentary_mental_health_criminal_justice

      Forced “treatment” is definitely not something that should be deemed a Trump phenomenon, as the title of this article makes it out to be. Trump is just messaging what a lot of people on the right and the left are thinking.

      I fear that marking it a Trump phenomenon gives the impression that simply changing presidents will fix this. But this actually makes it harder to organize and to educate. And I really believe education is critical. A lot of people are voicing the need for forced “treatment” without the knowledge of iatrogenic drug effects, withdrawal, and other issues surrounding the “treatment.”

      Also, many people have been completely mystified by doctors.

      But we really need both the left and the right to organize. No one deserves to be “treated” by psychiatry.

      • Our efforts need to be primarily addressed to the liberals and (so-called) “leftists” who have decided to incorporate psychiatric mythology and power into their bankrupt and revisionist world views. Marx is no doubt rolling over in his grave. Working class “conservatives” currently have more respect for common sense and freedom of expression than “woke” neoliberals. While Trump may have “graced” this summit with his presence, the buttons are being pushed primarily by “progressives.” MIA readers need to understand this and learn how to confront it, as it runs counter to how many want to see the world, and see themselves.

  14. A few things.

    First, these people are always talking shit so it doesn’t make sense to get triggered and hysterical by that alone. What needs to be ascertained is whether any concrete proposals or plans for action have come out of this.

    If some sort of repressive legislation or new regulations are in line to be put into effect we need to know about it, however, and mobilize a coalition to defeat it. This would include survivors, professionals and others.

    To be effective however a group of a couple dozen dedicated survivors won’t cut it by ourselves. We would need dozens or scores of professionals with a stake in the system who claim to oppose force — this includes many or most of those who expound on MIA — who are willing to commit massive civil disobedience to stop such a move by the political parties and Psychiatry Inc. If not now, this well may be necessary later. So let’s start asking our favorite MIA “advocates” whether or not they are prepared to sign on.

    • First, these people are always talking shit so it doesn’t make sense to get triggered and hysterical by that alone. What needs to be ascertained is whether any concrete proposals or plans for action have come out of this.

      Oldhead, true, getting triggered and hysterical doesn’t help. In fact, it plays into the stereotype of how people in the “mental health” system view our “mental illness” labels. The word “hysteria” is loaded with psychiatric connotations. That’s not who we are.

      But the people “talking shit” here are in elevated positions not only in potential political power, but also in the cult of celebrity. “Dr” Drew brings in celebrity culture. This has been an ongoing problem since Reagan and now, Trump has brought his surreal reality show into prime time politics.

      I’m not making this about a left or right issue (I hear what you’re saying about the faux-“left”). Celebrity culture is a dominant culture in our world right now. And it’s more pervasive in its toxicity than politics. Keep in mind – politics exists INSIDE celebrity culture.

      Isn’t that what writers like Neil Postman warned us about?

      So let’s start asking our favorite MIA “advocates” whether or not they are prepared to sign on.

      Yes, this is a good start. Phil Hickey, Bruce Levine, Bruce Cohen, and Susan Rosenthal come to mind as dissident voices from the professional class. There are likely more.

      BUT they cannot lead. This is something that a true dissident professional will understand. They can only message what antipsychiatry survivors are voicing.

      It’s a rare post on MiA that goes into the territory of antipsychiatry organizing strategy. Thank you, Oldhead.

      • I actually don’t think MIA or any venue accessible to the general public is an appropriate place for AP survivors to be discussing our internal strategy. But this is an issue which should mobilize more than survivors. Still, it makes no sense to talk about “strategy” without a shared set of goals. Developing and articulating the latter is what MIA and anti-psychiatry people need to start thinking more seriously, and clearly, about — and soon.

        The word “hysteria” is loaded with psychiatric connotations.

        I know, there just aren’t many synonyms, other than maybe “histrionics.” I don’t think it’s an official psychiatric term anymore. What I mean here is that we can’t just react to what some celebrity says by pulling our hair out and straying from our analysis, and our discipline. All celebrities are shills for the system. And anti-psychiatry, unlike psychiatry itself, IS a science. We need to be guided by objectivity and not let them yank us around by our emotional reactions to their genocidal mentality.

        • Still, it makes no sense to talk about “strategy” without a shared set of goals. Developing and articulating the latter is what MIA and anti-psychiatry people need to start thinking more seriously, and clearly, about — and soon.

          Yes, I agree with this – the sooner the better.

          While I also agree with you that celebrities are shills for the system, they message quickly in our celebrity culture society.

          • People need to learn to have more respect for themselves and not to go ga-ga over the superficiality of what one irrepressible revolutionary sister I know refers to as “name brand people.” (As differentiated from people like Cornell West or Mumia Abu-Jamal, who have become well-known for their integrity, intelligence and truth-telling.)

        • Organizations are what make organizing worthwhile. Organizations that can effect change. The factionalism remains, even with organizations. As is, organization has benefited the more moderate and compromising apologists for the system. Given the great failure of these compromises, as illustrated in the recent passage of the Murphy bill into law of one sort or another, I see hope for the more radical, and less compromising, factions, your milk toast moderate having become his or her own worst enemy.

  15. International Jails are generally full of people that have behaved violently under the influence of Alcohol not under the influence of “Schizophrenia” (and President Trump *”has a genetic connection” with alcoholism).

    The Republic of Ireland has an Epidemic problem with familial Homicide and Suicide committed by normal people (taking antidepressants) – NOT “Schizophrenics”.

    *I don’t believe in the principle of alcoholic genetic liability – its a Psychiatric Principle.

  16. “….Jim van Os, a professor of psychiatry at Maastricht University, is part of a growing number of professionals around the world calling for the end to the concept of schizophrenia….”

    The difference between me and a “long term disabled schizophrenic” is that I was able to come off strong Psychiatric Drugs in 1984 through psychological means – even though I initially nearly died several times in the process.

    (And a historical doctor was prepared to ackowledge drugs ‘causing problems’).

  17. Educating the general public is very important. There are ways to do that. Start a “metope” group around mental health. Start a HVN group, even if you don’t you can get it rolling and then help someone get training.
    I have referred a lot of people to the interview on 60 minutes with Leslie Stalls and Irving Kirsch. He did a fantastic study on the placebo affect of SSRI’s and found that only one in ten people are “helped” by them. The guy from big pharma agreed and said that was a good result. Of course that does not take into account the unbelievable side effects.

  18. People who have no first hand experience of psych wards may find it easy to laugh at the idea that One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest has any basis in reality. For these people, ignorance (with a thick underlayer of arrogance and feeling of superiority) is bliss, I’m sure.
    My first two psych ward experiences had some frightening similarities to the novel/movie. My first stay in a psych ward – after I called my former psychiatrist (the one paid by the Board of Ed to get me through high school, the one who dropped me the day I graduated high school, leaving me with a full bottle of Elavil and no follow up care) from my college dormitory and said I wanted to kill myself (I’d learned in the nurse’s office that I had herpes. My “friend” who’d accompanied me soon spread that information across the entire small college campus). I was in terrible mental and physical pain. The Dean of Students had been calling my mother for a week, telling her that she needed to come and get me. My mother refused. I was too sick to get home on my own. I called the psychiatrist and told her I felt suicidal (she had been nice to me, offering me ‘unconditional positive regard’ in session, until the money stopped; I was naive), next thing I knew there were cops and EMTs in my dorm room. They took me to Newport Hospital where I didn’t see a Dr. A nurse simply pointed to a darkened room where I was to go and find an empty bed. I begged for aspirin but “the Dr didn’t order any”. All night, a fellow patient in my room was crying, “My baby needs me!”. No one came to speak to her.
    The next morning I was discharged, sent back to campus, no Dr, no follow up. A few months later, I overdosed on the bottle of Elavil, had my stomach pumped, no psych eval, the tubes were ripped out of my nose and I was discharged.
    A year later, my second psych ward admission. I was 5 months pregnant when admitted and discharged when I delivered my son, then I was homeless. During this stay, one psych ward nurse used to verbally abuse me, calling me a bitch whenever no one else was around. I’m sure the stress affected my son. How could it not? Of all the things psychiatry has no respect for, motherhood is near the top of that list. The follow up care was drugs. Just drugs.
    The next 3 decades it was more drugs, more labels. After ECT at age 38 came a borderline diagnosis and “You need DBT.” DBT was coping skills; they said the past was irrelevant, we should just “radically accept it” (whatever “it” was; “it” was never discussed, although there was more of “it” after the borderline diagnosis — more psych ward stays, more abuse.)
    None of the early experiences were ever addressed. My treatment providers were clueless as to my history but they did clock the fact that I had “inappropriate rage” and “lack of trust” in the people who were “there to help”.
    The final slap in the face was being denied trauma therapy, at age 53. I’m so sick of these people. They can laugh all they want.