When I first saw that the New York Times had published an obit of Bonnie Burstow, I was—before I read it—quite pleasantly surprised. It’s not easy for a non-celebrity to rate an obituary in the New York Times, and yet here was one on a Canadian scholar who, as the subtitle in the online version stated, “was a prominent voice in the anti-psychiatry movement.”
That was a subtitle that told readers that her life—and scholarship—was of significant importance. It lent legitimacy to her “anti-psychiatry” scholarship.
Or so it seemed.
The first paragraphs of the obituary were all quite fine and respectful. It seemed that the obit would follow a familiar template, detailing the nature of her writings before delving into her personal history. But then came a “you have to be kidding me” moment. As the article described the “antipsychiatry” scholarship that Burstow had funded at the University of Toronto, there was a sudden comment from her colleague Edward Shorter, who, the paper noted, was a “long-standing critic of anti-psychiatry.”
Shorter didn’t disappoint.
“They’re trying to claim that there’s no such thing as psychiatric illness, and I think she did a lot of damage with the publicity she got surrounding that . . . (The university) made a big mistake in setting up a special scholarship fund in her name; it’s an anti-psychiatry fund that legitimizes the movement.”
And Shorter wasn’t done. The Times writer returned to him a second time, later down in the obituary:
“It’s clear that she has not had a positive impact on public health or the treatment of illness . . . and it’s sort of dismaying to think of the number of people who might have been moved by this siren song — thinking, ‘Oh, there’s no such thing as psychiatric illness, and it’s all just labeling and marginalization’ — and then commit suicide, because this is not uncommon. These are illnesses with stakes, for sure.’ ”
Apparently, Shorter never received the message from his mother not to speak ill of the dead. And the New York Times failed its readers by allowing him to do so.
Defaming the Dead
Edward Shorter is perhaps best known for his 1997 book, A History of Psychiatry. It’s an informative history, and I personally went to school on it when I was researching my first book, Mad in America. However, it follows a conventional narrative, particularly when it comes to the merits of antipsychotic drugs. “Chlorpromazine initiated a revolution in psychiatry, comparable to the introduction of penicillin in general medicine,” he wrote. Thanks to this new drug, schizophrenia patients “could lead relatively normal lives and not be confined to institutions.”
Now that statement isn’t, as they say, “evidence-based.” Dig into the scientific literature and you find that hospital discharge rates for first-episode psychotic patients didn’t improve when chlorpromazine arrived in asylum medicine. You also find that the social functioning of discharged patients declined after this drug became a mainstay of treatment.
But for the purposes of this blog, that is neither here nor there, other than to say that Shorter is invested in a narrative, one widely accepted in our society, that Bonnie Burstow challenged.
The “antipsychiatry” movement in the 1960s was led both by dissident psychiatrists (R.D. Laing, David Cooper, and Thomas Szasz to name a few) and academics (most notably Michel Foucault and Erving Goffman). Bonnie Burstow followed in this tradition, and as the New York Times noted, she challenged the validity of psychiatric diagnoses and the merits of psychiatric drugs. She wrote critically about the patriarchal nature of psychiatry in its diagnosing of women throughout history.
As such, her writings stood in contrast to Shorter’s. Thus, when the New York Times called him up, he could have done the graceful thing and told of how he disagreed with her writings about psychiatry, and how her establishment of an “antipsychiatry” scholarship at the University of Toronto had proven to be controversial.
That would have been okay. Readers would have understood that Burstow was a scholar who challenged the conventional narrative and also took on the “powerful” within psychiatry. But Shorter did something quite different. His comments that Burstow’s writings led people to commit suicide—and that this was not “uncommon”—were an accusation, one that, in my opinion, was both vile and slanderous.
As a friend of mine wrote the day the New York Times obituary appeared, “did you see Shorter’s comments? He basically described her as a monster.”
That was the vile part. The slanderous aspect is that Shorter, of course, has no evidence that Burstow’s writings led people to commit suicide. This is the usual “blood on their hands” accusation that defenders of the conventional narrative often throw at critics of psychiatry, even though the science has a different story to tell.
David Healy, in his investigation of suicide among people treated for schizophrenia, found that the rate is 20 times higher today than it was prior to the antipsychotic era. Research has also found that suicide rates appear to increase when a population gets increased access to psychiatric care.
And that’s the point: if Burstow were alive, she could respond to a comment like Shorter’s by pointing to such research. She could defend herself against such an accusation. But since this was an obituary, she had no such opportunity. Shorter defamed the dead, and the New York Times provided him with a platform to do so.
The Journalistic Sin
By choosing to write an obituary of Bonnie Burstow, the New York Times was identifying her as a scholar of note. The obituary rightfully observed that she challenged conventional beliefs and criticized the patriarchal powers within psychiatry. But when it came time to solicit a comment about her work, it shouldn’t have reached out to a known opponent of her work and then published his outrageous comments.
Instead, it could have solicited a comment from a historian of psychiatry who has an appreciation for this battle of narratives, and thus could have provided insight into how Bonnie Burstow’s work fit into that battle. That’s the larger societal landscape that provided reason for the Times to write an obit about her. What was novel about her writings? What new ground did she illuminate? Did she present her arguments in a clear way?
For instance, the historian Andrew Scull would have been a good choice. I don’t know what he thought of Burstow’s writings, but he certainly could have spoken with insight about the competing narratives. If the Times had sought his opinion, he could have helped readers understand why her life’s work merited an obituary. She was a scholar participating in a larger societal argument about the merits of psychiatric care, past and present.
In a similar vein, the Times could have sought a comment from someone within the “psychiatric survivor” community. Why do so many ex-patients admire her writings and her advocacy work? I am sure that readers would have appreciated hearing their perspective.
The journalistic point here is this: this was an obituary. Much of what the Times wrote was fine, respectful, and informative. But it failed readers when it solicited a comment from an avowed enemy of her work, and then published his unfounded accusation that her writings caused harm to “public health” and prompted a great many suicides. The paper became a party to Shorter’s slander.
There is an old adage in journalism that your job is to afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted. Bonnie Burstow, in her writings, often provided comfort to the “afflicted.” The New York Times, by publishing Shorter’s comments, was comforting the comfortable.
And so, from us at Mad in America, I’d like to send a message to Bonnie Burstow beyond the grave: You did good Bonnie. You were a hero to many. And don’t let this obit get you down.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.
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You just wrote a better obituary then did the NY Times.
I’m sorry to hear about Bonnie Burstow’s passing. Reading about her anti-psychiatry scholarship here on MiA was very encouraging. I myself was almost killed by psychiatry & psych drugs, and I’m alive and well as I am today because I rid my life of the scourge of psychiatry and psych drugs. It’s sad when the NYT stoops to this level of smear. It’s like the Time magazine obit of Dr. Thomas Szasz, where the ONLY quote included was from E.(is for “evil”)Fuller Torrey. I’ve read Bonnie’s writing here on MiA, and we will all miss her voice and her work.
Too bad the NYT cares more for money, and power, and less for people’s lives. That’s the message they send.
KEEP UP the GOOD WORK, Robert. I still cite “Mad in America”, and “Anatomy of an Epidemic” as often as I can. You yourself are considered “anti-psychiatry” by many of psychiatry’s apologists. I’m wrapping up a win on “The Conversation”, under an article about the imminent demise of the term “schizophrenia”.
Let me get back to laughing, watching Tom Perez and the DNC work so hard to RE-elect Trump…..
So Sad! Bonnie a heroine of our times unable to defend herself against such an attack in her obituary of all things. I am sure glad Bonnie lived to be what she was and what she accompllished and not to worry because for future generations and as a mark down in history she will be placed as a Pioneer of Mental Health and Reform Against The Violation of Vulnerable Minds which is i’m sorry to say modern psychiatry and which has been psychiatry for many decades. Bonnie made a difference to a corrupt game of minds and she is in my mind Tomorrow’s Heroine!
Thank you Bob, we all needed that.
In this case the New York Times defended the economic and political interests of Big Pharma and their colluding partner psychiatry. These are both extremely valuable institutions for maintaining and expanding a very oppressive status quo of a class based capitalistic system.
Long Live the Spirit of Bonnie Burstow!
This is your best article to date Mr. Whitaker. Thank you.
Is it any wonder that psychiatric survivors, antipsychiatrists, and critics of psychiatry often want to write under the protection of a pseudonym? If journalists treat the dead so poorly, just think how they will treat the living, particularly survivors!
Having read Shorter’s conventional (and skewed) history of psychiatry, as well as Bonnie’s books and Mr. Whitaker’s books, the contrast between truth and error is quite clear. It is clear that psychiatric survivors, antipsychiatrists, and some critics of psychiatry are telling the truth, whereas psychiatry is, and always has been, based on lies, deception, and chicanery. Psychiatry is a pseudo-scientific system of slavery that masquerades as a medical profession. Fortunately Bonnie, Mr. Whitaker, and a few others, such as Peter Breggin, have been brave enough to tell the truth.
Psychiatry maims.. What I cannot understand is why psychiatry is so careless with young lives.
I suppose, it’s someone elses kid, so on an emotional level, the outcome does not matter much.
Those who expose psychiatry do so by exposing the lies, and abuses that keep happening under a pretense of help and that is the absolute shame that psychiatry lives with. The UN makes attempts to address what it knows to be a problem, yet is afraid to ACT.
If Shorter was confident at all in his profession, he would never have resorted to looking like the AZZ.
The ones brave enough to speak up, are/were long overdue.
I hope someone is brave enough, confident enough to fill Bonnie’s shoes.
Isn’t Edward Shorter the same guy who wrote “Szasz fails to recognise that the discipline today acknowledges a neurological basis for much psychiatric illness. Thus, his fulminations against psychiatry for treating ‘mental illness’ is off-base. ”
This is basically the same old false accusation of “mind-brain duality” being peddled again.
I wouldn’t take this guy’s word seriously at all.
The truly astounding thing is that Thomas Szasz understood and told the truth about psychiatry long, long ago, as did Karl Kraus long before him, but their truth-telling was ridiculed, rejected, or ignored.
Although Bonnie’s arguments lean much too heavily toward radical Marxist ideologies, she was absolutely right about opposing psychiatry full force. Even though he didn’t get everything right either, Thomas Szasz’s work provides a good counterbalance to the ideological slant of much antipsychiatric literature.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that the man who wrote most prolifically and profoundly in opposition to psychiatry has been the most ignored, most misunderstood, and the most slandered. Bonnie made an important contribution to the antipsychiatry canon, but as long as the world continues to ignore the work of Thomas Szasz, psychiatry will continue to thrive at the expense of its unwitting victims.
Removed for moderation.
From the NYT obit: “’They’re trying to claim that there’s no such thing as psychiatric illness, and I think she did a lot of damage with the publicity she got surrounding that,’ Edward Shorter, a professor of psychiatry at the university and a longstanding critic of anti-psychiatry, said in a phone interview. The university, he said, ‘made a big mistake in setting up a special scholarship fund in her name; it’s an anti-psychiatry fund that legitimizes the movement.’”
Shorter’s History of Psychiatry skips over the atrocities of Nazi psychiatry in less than a paragraph, ridicules the value of psychotherapy, and sings unqualified praise for bio-genetic explanations and drug-centered treatments for so-called “mental illnesses.” In fact, twenty-five years after Shorter’s mammoth tome was published, there still is no convincing evidence of a strong genetic component for “mental illnesses” and no known measurable biochemical, neurological, physiological, anatomical, signs for any of the so-called “functional disorders” commonly treated by psychiatrists.
What’s more, as consumption of psychiatric drugs has skyrocketed, so has the proportion of the population disabled by “mental illness” and the suicide rate. This is not what happens when treatments work.
Please read Shorter’s masterpiece about gynecology. He barely admitted allergies exist and goes off into a diatribe against female hypochondriacs toward the end.
My guess is he hopes this book of his will be forgotten. Several critics have accused him of misogynistic views. Many conscientious physicians are embarrassed by it.
Someone needs to drag up this forgotten masterpiece of his and ask why Shorter believes in random brain damage to cure unproven brain disorders but not allergies or yeast infections.
A History of Women’s Bodies.
The Title is embarrassing.
I very much think psychiatry will slam him for being the azz he was in the article. At the same time, it makes the New Yorker look awful.
Either they don’t know an idiot when they see one, or they wanted to create an atmosphere of controversy.
They failed no matter what their intention and makes them look like one of those cheap reads.
Oh Rachel777, you are genius!
Pure gold. Thanks for the tip. How did you come across this treasure?
The lazy way. I googled Edward Shorter gynecology book.
Do you want to do a book review? 🙂
This is a brief review of his book on psychiatry: https://psychiatricsurvivors.wordpress.com/2014/08/02/a-history-of-psychiatry/
I think that the review you gave of Shorter’s gynecology book suffices for now. 🙂 But that is a gem. Well done.
Book – and book review – should be done by a woman.
What business has a man telling us of the history of our bodies?
Obviously the victor writes the histories.
Bonnie would be appalled.
The book actually received a negative review from the NYT in 1991. Pretty ironic.
The reviewer complains that the last third of the book veers off into a diatribe against diseases that Shorter claims are purely imaginary. Such as allegies, temporomandibular joint disease, yeast infections…I kid you not.
Shorter reluctantly admits the first two exist but maintains they are most cases are cooked up by coffee sipping housewives with too much time on their hands. Serves ’em right for not vacuuming enough.
Bob, thank you for addressing this outrageous behavior on the part of the NYT. It’s shameful that the paper printed a vicious attack as part of an obituary – as a former obit writer, I’ve never seen that done before. And Shorter should have had the decency to say nothing, under the circumstances. Thanks for calling them out!
Robert thank you.
I would like the New York Times and especially Edward Shorter to understand that anti-psychiatry had it’s following long before Bonnie Burstow.
Bonnie was her own woman, she was not gathering a following. People obviously respected her because they WERE already aware of psychiatry.
It is obvious that Edward Shorter is aware that psychiatry is guilty of suicides, by creating hopelessness and drugs that are greatly responsible for sending people over that edge. IN FACT, researchers document that the drugs can indeed cause suicide.
There is no research that deaths are caused by information.
As usual, psychiatry feels threatened and has to make up lies.
I’m sure it is not concern for people, if it was, Edward would have had to agree that labels cause loss of freedoms and how that is constitutionally wrong.
I am really not worried about Edward Shorter slamming Bonnie Burstow, I would expect that from the system that feels threatened.
I believe he did himself and psychiatry a disservice, it exposes them even more. If Bonnie Burstow were alive, I doubt she would have seen it as harmful to herself, but rather as an easy challenge, and would have known that it again shows psychiatry to dig to the bottom of the slop pail for propaganda. Propaganda are not based on fact.
I believe Edward, that possibly disorders exist, some come in the form of trying to inflame people who you find threatening. One does not need 8 years of education, to see what is at play.
I am not impressed with the magazine for using her obituary to let someone slam or should I say, try to slam Bonnie. Shame on you New York Times. Could you stoop lower?
There is indeed more evidence for ME than any of the “mental illnesses” Shorter accepts as gospel. Yet he mocks the one and promotes the other.
Highly inconsistent. But this is psychiatry after all.
Actually lets not forget here that biopsychiatry is the enemy of the people and all psyches who have an investment in it. Bonnie was the Tigress who spent her life fighting the Scorpions and she did in fact sleigh many a sting. Shorter felt her bite even in death and in a way has brought more attention to just how awesome she in fact was. I feel what you have written in response to the comments Shorter was allowed to say Bob should also be printed in the NYT. She should have her defense as her burning pire floats down the river and gain the respect due to her as the fearsome warrior she was and will remain throughout history.
Just googled info about who Shorter who in fact is. He is one of the powerful atrocities name a gynocologist who slices up women’s bodies are a profession and probably is responsible for maiming more women that i care to imagine. He also thinks he is some kind of male expert on female desire???? When has any man been an expert on female desire??? It takes women to know how we truly feel and no man has ever come close to satisfying women to such an extent he then writes a book about it and becomes an expert. What kind of joker is this man?
If it wasn’t for the fact i am making home improvements lately and I have stopped my monthly investment in books i would buy Shorter’s little scribbles and read to what extnet he is in fact an expert on women’s bodies because it is through my feminist readings and philosophy that gynocologists tend to hash up women’s desires. Please can someone inform me of some of Bonnies’ books? Whether it breaks my bank or not i would rather read her as a piece of good literature than any hacker of the women’s anatomy and faker of expert in female desire.
Please have your article on Bonnie posted in the NYT asap Bob!
I see he did not write a book on men’s bodies.
I don’t think he is aware of his own assumptions.
He obviously believes greatly in psychosomatic illness and THAT is an assumption since it cannot ‘
be proven in light of lack of science.
What we do not know, can be referred to as educated guesses, or simply assumptions.
Our minds do one thing well and that is to examine the ‘other’. That is innate.
He is one big pompous ass.
He has a few good ideas but believes in his thoughts and ramblings of brain chatter too much.
I realize he is a shrink who believes he can untangle from his thoughts in some kind of rational manner, to tease apart fact from fiction, to bring to mind some truths.
LOL and that is the funniest things shrinks do with their minds, play along those channels and paths that everyone else plays along.
That little brain going around in circles.
Frustrating for a shrink I’m sure, to know he is in fact not thinking anything new.
Is anyone on Twitter?
It’s a little late, but maybe we could give Eddie a good trolling.
His fellow physicians are embarrassed by some of what he’s written. Dig up some of his worst experiments. Post a link to those along with a quote from his article trashing Bonnie.
Point out how he probably had it in for her as a successful female academic who wrote better books than himself.
Just kidding. Sort of.
Someone needs to write an article or two about stuff this guy has written and said in the past.
A friend of mine–an older woman named June–had severe stomach pains a while back. So bad she couldn’t eat. Her energy went down and she couldn’t get out of bed–for obvious reasons.
Her family doctor told her she didn’t have stomach issues. (I don’t know what tests he ran. I assume at least one or two.) He said she had a chemical imbalance in her brain making her think her stomach was bad when it was fine. He urged her to take SSRIs to fix the alleged disorder.
June asked if she was crazy. He told her emphatically she was not but mentally ill instead. Which is really only the polite, medical-sounding term for crazy.
June is still alive. I guess the placebo effect gave her the gumption to ignore the pain and eat anyhow. Her digestion is still very bad. And tinkering with serotonin levels is bad for the GI even if your gut is sound to begin with.
“But I know Dr. X. He’s a good, kind man and would never lie to me.”
I don’t know about that. But he probably is ignorant about psychiatry like most real doctors are now. A lot actually believe in the chemical imbalance.
A doctor I saw a while back said I was ridiculous to want my Bipolar 2 diagnosis reevaluated. He gave me the old “But you wouldn’t have had a psychotic episode if you weren’t mentally ill to begin with” crap. Told me I needed all of my cocktail or vague horrible things would happen to me. Unbeknownst to him I had tapered off everything but my Effexor and should have been full blown manic. Nope. 😀
He also claimed that nobody discriminated against others for having a diagnosis of bipolar or schizophrenia. He urged me to lose as much weight as possible. Told a woman in her mid-forties who had been at least slightly overweight all her life to lose 230 pounds in as little time as possible. He said I needed to weigh 120 pounds with no regard for bone structure.
When I lost “only” ten pounds in two months he urged me to take metformin–claiming it would suppress my appetite. Told me to go on a carb free diet with lots of protein and animal fat and nothing but vegetables and fruit. Didn’t know fruits have carbohydrates it seems.
I found this character’s medical know-how pretty underwhelming to put it mildly. It’s because of doctors like him that psychiatry continues to flourish I guess. None of them bother reading articles in journals to keep abreast with things, but trust the experts and prescribe whatever that cute pharma rep recommends.
Like metformin! 😛
I actually had a very similar experience with a psychiatrist in 2012. I wanted my schizophrenia diagnosis reevaluated (I had fully recovered from a psychotic episode and I knew that I no longer had any hallucinations or delusions).
The psychiatrist (quite an unpleasant man) asked: “Do you always talk so much?” When I said that I did, he claimed that I might have not only schizophrenia, but also “an affective disorder”. He said that if I did not keep taking my “meds”, I could develop “drug-resistant schizophrenia” and need electroshocks.
Unbeknownst to him I had already come off Abilify (without any difficulties). For almost 8 years I have stayed away from all kinds of psychiatric drugs despite my diagnosis. I was never hospitalized again. This psychiatrist tried to scare me into being a compliant patient and clearly found me annoying!
Sounds like a (thinly) veiled threat.
People like us–who recover after leaving–embarrass psychiatrists. We’re a much bigger threat to their institution than the Scientologists. 🙂
Most of these guys aren’t sadists. By and large shrinks are tickled pink with a modest degree of recovery. Too modest for most people’s taste.
Then they can parade you around at various groups and conventions as a success story. As long as you give all the glory and honor to them and praise their treatments.
“Recovery” on their terms, though. Someone like John Nash who recovered in spite of rather than because of their interventions is an embarrassment, so much so that they had to change the movie and make it seem like they’d helped him, in order to protect their interests.
Joanna, you sure had a clever psychiatrist. Now we all want one 🙂
“drug resistant schizophrenia”???
I guess he admitted that drugs might not work lol.
I never knew “schizophrenia” was treated with ECT.
I guess he wanted you to pick something, if he got you scared enough so that he could keep trying a bunch of stuff.
You should have pulled out duct tape and tell him that you can always use it, if the talking becomes an issue.
You can just see “schizophrenia” resisting, like a stubborn donkey refusing to cooperate with their drug regime!
Rachel777, it sounded indeed like a threat, and I am so glad that I already knew at that time what to think of it!
I fully agree with you that people who recover make most psychiatrists feel very uneasy. I agree, too, that many (if not most) psychiatrists are not sadistic. However, it is difficult for me to say if they really believe that “schizophrenia” is a debilitating brain disease etc., or if they are simply afraid of challenging biopsychiatric beliefs.
Another psychiatrist claimed that I had “disorganized thinking” and was unable to explain what he meant. Until today I don’t know if he really believed that there was something wrong with my thinking because of my diagnosis, or if this was something he felt he had to say as a psychiatrist talking to a patient with “schizophrenia”.
Steve, I totally agree with you: most psychiatrists accept only “recovery” on their terms, that is, when a patient agrees to take neuroleptics until the end of his/her life and becomes a compliant member of society! The way John Nash’s story was distorted in “A Beautiful Mind” is simply disgusting, though not in any sense surprising…
Yes, in a way he admitted that the drugs might not work, but obviously what he meant is that they might not work for “uncooperative” patients who don’t want to obediently take the “meds” they were prescribed! It’s a pity that I didn’t have duct tape on me 😉
In my country (Poland) ECT can still be used as a treatment for schizophrenia if neuroleptics don’t work. Fortunately even in Poland even involuntarily committed patients always have to agree to ECT, unless doctors believe that their is a direct threat to the patient’s life. This was one of the reasons why I was not scared when the psychiatrist mentioned ECT!
Amazing people can now agree to ECT, yet psychiatry does not have to answer of why it was used on everyone, without being asked.
It is just a matter of time before forced drugging is history.
Obviously it was long ago, and remains, a UN matter.
Yes they keep saying it was needed, people get unruly, yet we all realize that we need MUCH more evidence than a lying doctor or nurses testimony on a scrap of paper.
There is a reason cops need body cameras. Psychiatry will have to look for sneakier ways to pen people up.
Or the other option, they should come clean 🙂
Sam, you are so right! I think (hope) that psychiatry is unable to stop the processes leading to greater respect for individuals’ rights. I hope very much that forced drugging will be increasingly recognized as a violation of basic human rights.
One of the problems is that many people seem to be unaware that many patients are literally forced to take psychiatric drugs (even when they are very quiet on the ward and don’t violate any rules!). Another problem is that many people generally know very little about those who have experienced psychiatric incarceration and are often ready to believe all kinds of negative stereotypes.
In consequence, there is little or no compassion for people forced to take these drugs in mainstream society. The assumption seems to be that they “need” these drugs – and/or that they are so different from “normal” people that it is difficult to relate to them and their experiences. The power of stigma continues to silence countless people who know what it’s like to be on a locked ward…
Our TV and movie media are also highly complicit in creating this impression that “meds are the answer.”
Joanna we do not have the right to refuse ECT in America.
Yes, Steve, it’s weird how TV shapes our perception of reality so believe what we see on the tube more than what we see in the real world around us. I saw a crime show last year where a “schizophrenic” was accused of murdering his therapist. He was not the murderer (for a change) but could only speak “word salad” when asked who he had seen murder her.
He agreed to be injected with “medicine.” Within five seconds he sat up and began to speak coherently. I sat and thought “I have never experienced enhanced clarity or cognitive ability. Nor have I witnessed it in anyone else.”
It’s scary how gullible we have become. They put anything on TV and people believe it. Even if they know it’s fiction.
Mom has seen me recover without “meds.” She knows my allegedly “schizophrenic” great aunt did fairly well without any “meds.” I blame her reclusive life on ECT and the trauma and shame of being locked up and labeled.
Yet Mom firmly believes these “meds” are helpful. She feels low spirited or blah and goes to the doctor complaining of unhappiness. (A bad idea. Never complain of emotional pain to any GP you have to see. Unless it’s physical pain from a real disease your doctor is not equipped to deal with it anyhow.)
Mom is sickly and worn out from over a decade on multiple SSRI drugs. She is at loose ends because it’s hard facing retirement and she has nothing to do. She just sits in a chair watching TV. She complains of boredom and unhappiness and gets more “medicine” instead of asking “What can I change to feel better?”
But the TV tells her drugs are all she needs to feel happy again. I expressed concern telling her she may have early Alzheimers or other dementia. Mom agreed. She expressed concern before we moved.
I told her there were steps she could take to reverse it at this stage. Physical exercise–she’s too drugged and apathetic to do much. Learn a new language or how to play a musical instrument. Read books. (She never reads now.) She shrugged and said, “They have medicine to fix Alzheimers now. I saw it on a commercial,” sighed and went back to staring at the tube.
BTW, I notice how people who work in “mental health” pushed TV on us almost as much as “medicine.”
I hope I can get my own place soon. It’s depressing watching Mom make self destructive choices and be powerless to stop.
Why NY Times doesn’t print stories of killed by psychiatrists young cannabis loves? Which just suffered an anti-drug psychosis..At least to know how many of them.
” killed by psychiatrists young cannabis loves?”
I am confused by this sentence. I realise that English may not be your mother tongue, but can you clarify?
Thank you, Robert Whitaker, for speaking out, with righteous indignation, when a psychiatrist defames a dead person, IN HER OBITUARY! And merely because she pointed out the well documented scientific fraud, and systemic paternalism, of the psychiatric industry.
“His comments that Burstow’s writings led people to commit … suicide — and that this was not ‘uncommon’ — were an accusation, one that, in my opinion, was both vile and slanderous.” Absolutely, I agree (note I eliminated a word I believe was a typo). Especially given the reality that merely dealing with a psychiatric hospitalization increases the likelihood of someone committing suicide by 100 to 200 percent. So the psychiatrists, themselves, are causing lots of suicides.
I will admit, I’m also not someone who agrees with all Bonnie’s views, despite enjoying some of her books. But her stand against psychiatry was absolutely spot on, and valid.
Unlike the mainstream psychiatric industry’s never ending belief in their “invalid” and “bullshit” DSM disorders. Descriptions of their DSM disorders, according to people like the head of NIMH and the primary editor of the DSM-IV, not just Bonnie.
Psychiatry seems to have learned long ago that defaming their critics, with their own crimes, is the best way for the scientific fraud based psychiatrists to survive. “This is the usual ‘blood on their hands’ accusation that defenders of the conventional narrative often throw at critics of psychiatry, even though the science has a different story to tell.”
Thanks for standing up for Bonnie, Robert. And for pointing out the impropriety of the NYT’s obituary injustice.
Dear Robert, you fight against a huge, well perfected MANIPULATING MACHINE. I hope you won’t see as patronizing what I’m going to say.
They’re still almighty because the masses always believe them, not you. The masses perceive those like you or Ms. Burstow as impostors (or better said sort of usurpers), even if is the other way around. They think is you who manipulate.
Until now, you fought with the weapons of Truth and you convinced those people still able to recognize the Truth through the use of the Reason, but they’re a minority, the masses don’t act like that.
Most people have a strong blind trust in doctors and drugs because they don’t read, don’t think, they let others think for them if it appears those who they trust have an authority.
For the masses, is not important what someone says but the appearance, the body language, dressing and so. This is why psychiatrists use so much theatrical means in their interactions with their believers. Is exactly the same principles used by priests in order to impress.
The masses suffer of sort of faith that there is a “divine order” in the ways the society is organized and is not possible that such a big institution like the Psychiatry to be a hoax, or that most of the people to be delusional. Is the bandwagon effect.
If you want to succeed in these just cause efforts, you have to change a little the strategy. On one hand, continue to spread the Truth for those able to see it. On another hand, seek how you can strip the Dragon of its power given to them by the blind trust of the masses.
In this SECOND FRONT, or direction, do not make any move until you didn’t virtually evaluate its outcome. Take in consideration any variables, factors that can intervene and change the premises. I think this is how they proceed too, because manipulators are forced to not act haphazardly.
The battle is won or lost before it starts.
If you believe you have a strategy that will win the battle, be careful, as may not work as you expect. Take failure into consideration.
They act haphazardly at all times.
It is so easy to punch their hypothesis full of holes, since it is just hypothesis.
Like this article
In one line it says “thought to be”, in another it says “It is….”
Then there is this article, which eventually leading him up to being sent to a shrink because they saw his arm moving during a sleep study. Not once do they hypothesize that perhaps the brain is able to do different adaptations during sleep as opposed to wakefulness.
So absence of ability to diagnose the physical, it either becomes mental or malingering.
Their hypothesis are presented as FACTS all over the damn place, yet no science students call them on it?
What the hell kind of science is actually happening?
Even if you have actual neurological “damage”, some parts of you will always be labeled psychiatric, because the neurology guy knows a SCANT bit of MRI (outdated tech) and besides, he can’t fix your brain, and of course the neurological cannot be fixed, so he makes a call to a shrink and preps him, and then the shrink goes to town. Everyone playing these insane games.
Now you can be labeled with a damaged brain and damaged behaviour and psychologist wants to fix the trauma and the shrink wants to give chemicals.
We were better off 100 years back.
A whole lot of stuff is MADE UP, no facts. Hypothesis that is completely wrong.
New terms constructed on absence of science or anything conclusive. Looking at their silly scans and bloodtests, creating chemicals to poison people.
There is NO doubt that we found out how different we are, no doubt one person can draw, and one can’t. No doubt that there is brain “damage” out there, a lot happens when we are kids.
Even the “trauma” people have no clue if perhaps the weekly talks are really underlying neurological “damage”.
The BS of it all is that no one knows the brain, yet people are treated and being driven crazy by being expected to be like others or else one is to be treated.
It has resulted in the garbage that we have now.
It is embarrassing should any intelligent being observe how “othered”, society has become.
An “othering” state always existed, with much damage done. Now we use “science” lol.
What science? This thing developed in the last 50 years?
50-100 years is sufficient to treat kids for “brain disorders”?
How can anyone look at these practices as respectful? They are not to be respected, not if you apply nonsense to human lives.
Use the “cures” to create lifelong “patients” and also the biomarkers to prove how valid the hopeless prognosis is.
I wasn’t referring to their ‘professional’ practice but to the practices of protecting the image and credibility of their profession and of the adequacy of the drugs they use (in articles, interviews, speeches and so on).
They try to paint the anti-psychiatry movement as something peripheral to science and scholar consensus, lacking credibility and so on. Unfortunately, association of Scientology with anti-psychiatry helps them.
In the story of David and Goliath, the young lad turns down King Saul’s offer of full body armor before taking on this seasoned warrior who’s at least 9’6″ while David was probably under five feet. (Typical height back then.)
David knew he was already facing impossible odds so he went out with only the rocks and the sling he used for killing wolves and bears while looking after the sheep on his own.
We can’t beat them with massive campaigns or television/magazine ads or support from the cowardly or corrupt AMA. Our only hope is the unconventional.
As Gandalf said to Borimir in The Lord of the Rings, “Our only hope lies in foolishness.”
“Let folly be our cloak!”
AH, but David was accused of Madness (before he killed the Giant)…
Revelling in folly and long shots could end up with us being gaslit, smeared, and – diagnosed.
Anyone who really has an idea to DO anything is generally regarded as “crazy.” In a weird way, it could be considered a badge of honor that “normal” people recognize that you’re not one of them!
Weapons of the Weak; everyday forms of resistance. I see MiA as part of this everyday form of resistance. This guy Shorter who has been exposed here is precisely what Scott was speaking about in his book. It,s not cloak and dagger meetings in Cafes and revolutions, it’s a too and fro in everyday life that sometimes spills over and results in a whole bunch of rich and powerful people having their heads cut off while the plebs cheer. We have to have a win every once ion a while to keep us going. Robespierre said it about how the cycle goes. The revolutionary becomes the oppressor.
There will be no Dawud to slay this Goliath. It might be better to consider the actions of Lot. Leave and don’t look back while God destroys these evil people whose transgressing knows no bounds.
Very well said Robert.
For those who are new to this.
The important history of psychiatry was the mass murder of 400,000 people: Starved to death, drugged to death, shot to death, and ultimately gassed en mass, their brains cut out and their bodies burnt. Psychiatrists did all this and their methods of mass killing were transferred by the Schutzstaffel (SS) into concentration camps. 45% of German physicians were members of the Nazi party, 7% were SS.
Listen to this:
In our times people are suffering horrendous harms and death through enforced drugging either sectioned or placed on Community Treatment Orders… forced to have depot injections of neurotoxins to such a level they cause toxicity inducing toxic psychosis/akathisia (AKATHISIA… look up that word) which is the real cause of the majority of suicide in people subject to these and other drugs and many other serious – prescribed drug – harms to death.
For the last twenty years plus there has been a gene test that can ascertain if you will become toxic on psych and other drugs called: Cytochrome P450. Had you ever heard about it… did your doctor inform you of this? Cytochrome P450 is the name of the enzymes that metabolise most drugs and we all have different phenotypes… ability to metabolise drugs. If your enzymes can’t inactivate drugs you become toxic: Toxic Psychosis/AKATHISIA. Don’t expect a doctor to diagnose this because they caused it. So NO you have a worsening of “mental illness” and you need more drugs, and you’re going to get them whether you like them or not, because now you lack insight into YOUR illness for blaming the doctor and their drugs.
“8 million people die each year due to mental illness.” Really.
“Mental illness” is not terminal… it’s not ‘mental illness’ it’s the neurotoxic drugs, social/political conditions.. the affect of their society/family/work/partner upon them. So where is the ‘illness’ ?
On the issue of ‘mental illness’. Watch this video, then ask yourself to define ‘mental illness’ first in the context of the above history of psychiatry whereby people were labeled, amongst other things: ‘feeble minded’ and sentenced to death, secondly in the context of Cytochrome P450 and then the methods used to define ‘mental illness’ in the DSM:
Dr James Davies: The Origins of the DSM
Thanks streetphotobeing. Excellent video links! I had not seen these before.
Thankyou Streetphotobeing! I am currently waiting to hear from a solicitor to find out whether i have a case of negligence against a psyche nurse. I will let you know the results.
I am having my drug Haldol reduced by 10% these last 4 weeks not suffering withdrawals. I hope to be drug free this year.
You’re both welcome and good luck with coming of the drug and negligence claim.
Most people arguing that “mental illness” kills are actually talking about suicide.
Guess what? People in “treatment” kill themselves all the time.
But if they commit suicide off the drugs everyone blames their non-compliance. If they commit suicide on the drugs everyone ignores the fact. Or hems and haws claiming it’s “in spite of the finest medical care.”
I don’t despise Rick Warren the way Pacific Dawn does. But his line of reasoning is severely flawed. He and others need to have their faulty logic pointed out to them.
(Rick probably embraces the idea of depression as brain disease so he doesn’t have to worry about his son being in Hell for the sin of suicide. I can’t blame him there. He probably also feels guilty because his highly public ministry caused a lot of stress on Matt who was an introvert in a church that teaches “Jesus was an extrovert.” See Quiet by Susan Cain where she describes a visit to the Saddleback megachurch.)
Thank you Robert for speaking out on this.
Yes, what started out to be a respectable obituary in the NY Times for Dr. Bonnie Burstow certainly took a shocking and disgusting turn. It is cowardly, opportunistic and unethical to defame a colleague who is dead – especially with such vile and outrageous accusations. The NY Times should remove Edward Shorter’s defamatory accusations from Dr. Burstow’s obituary AND issue some type of apology and retraction.
Cruelty, coercion and lots of corruption is at the core of psychiatry and Edward Shorter must know this:
“Never try to destroy someone else’s reputation with lies when yours can be destroyed with the truth”.
Well said Rosalee.
I am quite confident that psychiatry even if not done away with, will completely change.
No oppressive system ever goes unchallenged. It only works if a small number of people are affected.
It is time for dialogue between oppressors and oppressed, even reconciliation for some, although I would never expect anyone that has experienced the oppression to ‘forgive’.
Even adherents to psychiatry cannot deny the oppression and damage, the damage from the DSM alone is huge.
Shorter’s comments were typically an attempt to silence, to scare. But I believe even adherents to psychiatry will be unimpressed by his intrusive and vile way of attack.
Makes me wonder if he would ever have been capable of sitting down with Bonnie and discussing the issues.
If we could do these three things I would be ecstatically happy.
1. Ban cronyism. This would solve so many problems besides the psychiatric one.
2. Ban involuntary treatment. I call it treatment because torture is a form of “punitive treatment.”
3. Make it illegal to advertise psychiatric drugs on TV.
A disgrace from the NyT you Americans need to complain en masse
God rest you Bonnie
Googled Edward Shorter again and yes he has written many a good book and one on Women’s Bodies which out of sheer curiosity i have purchased. Saying that how he can blame Bonnie for suicides when everyone knows psyche drugs and incarceration cause more deaths then anything else next to cancer and heart desease. I am aware of 4 deaths by suicide my local psychiatrist is responsible for during the last 5 years and there are others i don’t know about.
I have already read good books on women’s history of madness written by women and am interested to read the comparison via a male psychiatrist. I wonder who in fact has it more accurate?
Google the New York Times review of Edward Shorter’s book. 1991. It makes him look like a raving misogynist.
He claims that women are hysterical hypochondriacs who imagine yeast infections, temporomandibular joint syndrome, allergies, and all other chronic illnesses. Wow, this work has not aged well.
No wonder he loves psych drugs so much. Great way to dismiss the medical needs of women who come to him for help.
Lucky for stuff shirts who hide behind stethoscopes and only get read by other academic stuff shirts this bovine excrement goes unnoticed. They get the glory of having a book published–proving professional expertise–but no popular audience reads it or holds them accountable for their views. Much stupidity that street smart folks would get but the Mutual Admiration Academia let slide. Because of intellectual “inbreeding.”
Medicine and other sciences should be studied more by the common people. We can no longer assume doctors have our best interests at heart.
Never see a doctor unless you know you can sue him for malpractice. They are that corrupt. We owe lawyers an apology.
Publish or perish.
Lawyers can’t help you when “standard of care” is practiced. The professionals form a shield wall that is impossible to break.
I meant never to see a shrink. But maybe using the word “doctor” through you off. 😀
Our only course of action is the one taken for dealing with corrupt judges. Make the public hate them. Troll psychiatric sites and you’ll find this is the stuff that composes their worst nightmares.
I’m starting a satire site dedicated to revealing the ugly side of psychiatry. It will be labeled satire, but will contain links to real psychiatric articles I will draw on for inspiration.
“Lawyers can’t help you when “standard of care” is practiced. The professionals form a shield wall that is impossible to break.”
There was a case here where a young man had gotten intoxicated whilst at the AC/DC concert. Picked up by police and kicked to death by one police officer in the cells. 14 police stood and watched while this was done, and all stood in court and stated they refused to testify on the grounds they may incriminate themselves. Same goes for these medical people involved in ‘restraints’. The ‘joint enterprise’ means that lawyers hands would be tied knowing that the thugs would simply close ranks. So your right there JanCarol, where a ‘standard of care’ is involved, no action would be taken.
The Edward Shorter quotes leave me speechless. I guess you’d call him an anti-antipsychiatry psychiatrist. His approach to psychiatry is not that critical to his profession, and he is certainly not the person you’d want introducing the public to the work of Bonnie Burstow.
Thank you for this post. If it’s not the necessary corrective to the New York Times piece, it’s moving in that direction. The Times, obviously, should have been talking with some of Bonnie’s friends.
This is an excellent review of Shorter’s book “A History of Psychiatry”: https://psychiatricsurvivors.wordpress.com/2014/08/02/a-history-of-psychiatry/
Yep, psychiatry today, resembles the picture in the review.
To Robert Whitaker: Thanks for the remarks of the quality of the NYT obituary of Bonnie Burstow.
Totally bizarre to quote an opponent of someone in their obit.
Thank you, Robert.
Unfortunate but about what I expected that Julia Carmel gave the last word to Bonnie’s status-quo, mainstream adversary. Posting the obit on Facebook I accompanied it with the following comments with several editorial nips and tucks, most anti-psych 101…
Edward Shorter, professor of psychiatry, was an old adversary. He’s quoted saying, “They’re trying to claim that there’s no such thing as psychiatric illness, and I think she did a lot of damage with the publicity she got surrounding that.”
I would ask the question, “Why are there no science-based medical diagnostics for any of the over 300 ‘psychiatric illnesses’ listed in the DSM e.g. an MRI scan, blood test, biopsy to confirm BPD (bipolar disorder)?” The distress, typically trauma-induced, is very real. But psychiatry, having no coherent theory of mind, has only one tool to deal with it: partial brain and neural deactivation by somatic (bodily) interventions. Comparable to a computer technician who has never heard of software.
The biomedical model is neither biology nor medicine but rationalization for a repressive state-adjunct-in-reserve properly categorized with policing and penology flimsily dressed up as a medical specialty. It conveniently locates “the problem” in the responder, not to what they’re responding to. It claims to treat mysterious chemical imbalances in the brain and nervous system which are never named, measured, or corroborated by medical diagnostics.
Unlike diabetes and insulin doctors never identify the deficient chemical, the norm by which it is measured, by how much out the patient has to be to qualify as having the disorder, what makes that chemical specific to that disorder, and why i.e. the mechanism of action.
Yet a psychiatric diagnosis can pretext arrest, incarceration, loss of legal rights, forced brain and neurological injury.
Shorter started out as a gynecologist it seems and got in trouble for claiming his female patients didn’t suffer from allergies, yeast infections, or other real physical diseases. He reluctantly admitted that allergies exist but hysterical women folk seldom suffered from them and probably took to handing out “antidepressants” to everyone who came in.
You know how them women folk be. Wink wink. 😛 His career change speaks for itself.
How much do we bet that he was the only one to call the new yorker (no caps)
to offer his critique of a RIP person.
No one at the mag headquarters said “HUH?”
Wow… Even more special than I thought. As you likely know psych survivors repeatedly report a maddening reversal impairing effective care: expression of emotional distress is dismissed as biological and subject to somatic interventions like drugs, ECT, psychosurgery, while expression of physical distress is dismissed as “just in your head” and symptomatic of “your mental illness” with sometimes devastating, even fatal consequences.
Gotta poke around a bit more about him.
Shorter ticked off a lot of people by speaking at a convention for those suffering from ME or myalgic encephalomyalitis at the National Institute of Health in the University of Toronto.
He ridiculed people suffering from chronic illness, comparing them to Victorian women luxuriating on beds of pillows simply to be fashionable. Real piece of work.
Yet Shorter supports psychiatry despite lack of evidence that those brain diseases called “mental” actually exist or that the pills he promotes save lives. His mockery of ME sufferers probably comes from the link between autoimmune conditions and psychiatric treatments.
Regular docs still use labels to deal with or get patients minimized.
In Canada, where all your charts are visible, the next doc just rides on the tails of the first doc.
They are a club, can’t disagree with a colleague, because doing so would give patients more clout, and cause division amongst themselves.
It could also risk them to lawsuits.
Women were the first to be labelled psychiatric when chronically ill and the medical community usually uses the argument that “chronic illness often has a psychiatric component, (in form of anxiety and depression).
It seems negative reactions, such as the look of pain, or discomfort on a face, gets labelled “depression”.
Doctors complain that less and less people respect them, more docs are disgruntled than ever before.
Of course they are. They can’t possibly live up to the BS that they fed, and people believed in.
People don’t like to be called names anymore, names that have no value.
Shorter is just a small example of what resides out there. The greatest phenomena is that these people ALL have gone into service for their fellow humans.
I bet when Bonnie was sick, no one dared to use the word depression lol. Good Job Bonnie
Excellent to the point
Is it not the case that the NYT has actually done us all a favour by bringing attention to Shorters ‘backbiting’? I’m sure his colleagues will feel comfortable challenging the Emperors views on important matters in the future knowing that he would slander them in their graves. Don’t underestimate the ability of the readers to extract what is important from the article. They have brought attention to Bonnies work AND at the same time exposed the ‘backbiter’. Isn’t that what Bonnie would have wanted? These people being shown for what they really are? And in the NYT of all places 🙂 Well done Bonnie.
I love this Website and the people’s comments. Shorter is given short thrift and his slander of Bonnie will have repercisions as he will draw attention to his own mysogony. He is not exactly a supporter of women’s rights is he?
I must draw attention to feminist sites about this attack on Bonnie by a cut throat psyche who is probably responsible for killing more people and maiming more women than i care to imagine.
Actually if we all wrote letters to the NYT regarding this outrage would they actually be published? Who is the bloody editor anyhow?
I wrote a letter to NYT on February 3. Noted that NYT had big announcement recently how they were going to include more obituaries of women, but I said what was the point if they were only going to trash them after death. I said that “peers and students” were not the only ones who supported Bonnie. etc. They say they will notify you if they are going to print your letter, and I have not heard anything.
Shorter is one paranoid puppy, reason to I guess.
He’s getting old, and we know how that ends up.
He just did a whiny little girl stint, really makes him look like a miserable old fart.
I just think it’s so conveniently reflective of psychiatry.
So glad Robert exposed this move of the childish moves of Shorter and the new Yorker.
Every corner one turns, psychiatry looks like one big azz.
I think you are being very unfair to little girls in making the above comparison. And maybe insulting to old farts, too.
Also nervous puppies. Lol.
You are right Steve, I knew when I was typing that, yet I could not see him as someone mature.
So I apologize to whiny little girls and old farts everywhere, seeing that I can actually resemble both at times.
I will not take back my AZZ comment lol.
“makes him look like a miserable old fart.”
Boans scratches his head and thinks “How does an old fart look?” Oh I get it, it does as a result of age stop smelling at least but its a bit like a mental illness, We know its there, we just can’t quite put our finger on it.
Hey Steve, pull this 🙂
Speaking of puppies here is psychiatrist Derek Tracy with homework for his students
“Get a puppy – the cuter the better – and give it a kick, pretty hard…. this goes down really well in south london”
Watch/listen to them all laughing.
President’s Lecture: With Dr Derek Tracy
Be sure to mention Shorter’s book A History of the Bodies of Women and his lecture to a group of people suffering from ME where he told them it was only hypochondria and compared them to swooning Victorian ingenues. Sounds like someone is still living in the 19th century and it isn’t the patients!
Edward Shorter denies that ME and most other autoimmune diseases exist. He claims these are all fashionable maladies dreamed up by hysterical females whilst they sip tea during afternoon calls.
And then pull out the smelling salts. Before collapsing on the fainting couch. 😀
Maybe he thinks blood letting and cauterization are underrated modalities of treatment that should be brought back. Lol.
At least Shorter has moved beyond the Four Humors.
By the way, don’t quote me. I’m indulging a satirical impulse. But mocking this guy is not hard to do.
Google “An Open Letter to Dr. Koroshetz occupy me” for details.
He denies ME because “it lacks scientific evidence” but promotes the concept of “mental illness” despite the lack of biomarkers not created by psychiatrists themselves.
My guess is Shorter loves to hand out Zoloft or Xanax as quickly as possible instead of searching for actual maladies.
And his attitude shows how inconsistent the concept of “mental illness” is. If it’s a real brain disease why don’t they treat it as such? Even Shorter views it as different from a physical disease. And yet they tout the notion that it’s a physical illness in the brain just like any other. The way they treat people they claim “suffer” from the alleged brain disease aren’t treated like real patients at all. Last time I checked the brain was a physical organ. Not a mental one.
Hi! Seems Julia Carmel journalist at the New York Times in this article had something different than Shorter to say about our Bonnie!
I wondered about why the editor would give credence to the likes of Shorter. Julia says it as it is.
This must be an expression of contempt from New York Times toward anti-psychiatry!
After all, who are their advertisers? Where does the money flow?
Clearly, obituaries are ‘celebrations’ of the person who died.
Send the staff of New York Times back to school!
We are cognizant of the fact that school has not helped.
Robert had the school of journalism also. However
he had the natural school of curiosity and not being satisfied
with, “it is this way because we say so”
This curiosity, can’t be taught.
Bonnys Obituary is not a time for grievance.
I completely support the idea of ‘the non existence of schizophrenia’ as a medical illness. The only people that genuinely recover, do this through non medical means.
Your Article refers to Dr David Healys Study suggesting a 20 fold increase in ‘Schizophrenic Suicide’ with the introduction of strong psychiatric drugs.
You also mention an overall increase in Suicide with an increase in Psychiatric medicine in Society:-
At the moment in Ireland there is a Epidemic of Suicide/Homicide/Familicide being carried out by Completely Normal People taking Psychiatric Drugs as an aid to coping with Modern Day Life Stress.
To make Society safer surely these drugs should be taken off the market.
i consulted Dr David Healy for what i presumed was brain damage which was in fact psychosomatic dystonia.
He recommended Clozaril. The man is an enigma!
I suppose he used scientific methods to determine this?
Come to think of it i have never met one decent doctor or nurse! Ever! And i trained as a nurse for a while and some pretty degenerates trained along side of me.
i dont recollect one lesson which covered ‘Ethics”.
I think that only good doctors appear in hollywood films or Tv soaps. They are a fallacy
When i went to my family GP suffering from anxiety when i was 17 he sexually molested me then the dirty old quack did it to my sister 2 years later.
Thinking these people have a moral code is just not the right way to perceive what they are and the way they work. The ones who are genuine carers are rare and shine out from the rubble. My first psyche nurse had the nerve to say to me doctors bury their mistakes. In the ratio of saving lives to burying people id say doctors bury more then they ever save!
He likes shock too you know.
Thanks Robert for clarifying the matter. When I read the obituary I was pleasantly surprised to see her mentioned and then, I thought the NYT lacked a lot of class in their comments. It’s not the first time the NYT expresses a more pharmaceutically driven point of view. Are any of us surprised? Watch out Robert…you’ll be blamed for suicides, homocides, enfanticides and pesticides. That’s why it’s good idea to write your own obits.
Hi Sam, it was very cowardly of Shorter and the NYT to make those comments on someone’s Obit. In fact extreme cowardice on Shorter because Bonnie couldnt defend herself could she.
But then isnt Shorter used to making attacks on defenceless people?
Its his whole persona and way of life and he would be by profession a woman hater which reflects on the editor of the NYT as well.
Very few come to defend the integrity of women its a hystorical hysterical part of patriarchy and we have lived this way for mant eons.
Bippyone – good point!
NYTimes: “Let’s do more obituaries on women!”
“Here’s one – let’s get a misogynist to comment!”
Thank you so much, Bob, for this excellent defence of Bonnie’s work and life. Shame on the New York Times.
Bullseye! Bob, you’re like an intellectual “park ranger” whose business it is to see that no one commits an intellectual nuisance in matters of psychology and psychiatry! Like a professional philosopher, you make the issues clear, name the points, outline rules of conduct, prescribe ideals, clarify what answers cannot be given, provide sets of principles and empirical facts about conditions and prospects … so grateful for you and the work you do. Dawn Nelson
Thank you, Robert for standing up for us all who are angered and hurt by psychiatric abuses. The NYTimes has its biases – objective they are not! You and we will continue to build with Bonnie’s legacy.
Bonnie was an amazing woman who embodied courage and truth. She is a role model. I loved reading her articles. Shame on Shorter for using her passing to put his own bias into her obituary. Maybe he was afraid of her truth. Rest In Peace, Bonnie, you will be missed and honored by many.
Beautifully written response to a disrespectful and misleading obituary. They will call you a devil or they will call you a god. Submit your article to the comments in the New York Times to further honor Bonnie Burstow.
Hey everyone, it would appear that the University of Toronto is still accepting donations to the Dr. Bonnie Burstow Scholarship in Antipsychiatry fund as well as the two other scholarships she established, Burstow’s Scholarship for Research into Violence Against Indigenous Women: In Memory of Helen Betty Osborne and Burstow Scholarship for Research into Antisemitism. If you can spare a bit (or a lot) of cash, why not consider making a donation in memory of her?
I loved Bonnie, her writings and establishment of Mad Studies.
But I think the political correctness goes too far here.
The oldest trick in the book, ma[k]e a  reference that’s not coded and say it’s “around”…
and I think she did a lot of damage with the publicity she got surrounding that
And that’s not thinking, and further more, if it was “around” in reference to “publicity…..”
She’d still not be sitting with him and his cohorts and their booze bottles.
And it’s called “felicity,” being true to something if you are hired to be a public informant called a reporter.
(‘and I think she did a lot of damage with the publicity she got surrounding that”) up there, here again reported, from there, what was listed as a “news article.”
I thought about the headline “….may you not rest in peace” and how Bonnie was instrumental in not allowing psychiatry to rest comfortably and Shorter is a perfect example.
Bonnie was instrumental in giving hope to people, in allowing people to realize that, no, they are not crazy for thinking there is something not right with psychiatry.
If anything, Bonnie prevented suicides by those who felt unheard, invalidated.
One does not realize until much older and experienced, how lucky one is not to have been led to something drastic by psychiatry….one sees the hopelessness that psychiatry breeds, and the way we get roped further into the abyss by the system that we seek out.
It is this hopelessness breeding that psychiatry does, besides it’s random chemicals that is the cause of further distress and is not being addressed.
The proof is there, it needs to be acknowledged by itself.
It is as if psychiatry cannot be sick.
“Research has also found that suicide rates appear to increase when a population gets increased access to psychiatric care.”
Great point, Sam, about how Bonnie promoted hope. She made you challenge conventional thinking about psychiatry and our culture.
I also agree with you that psychiatry does not offer hope. If I am defining hope as desiring and considering the possible, psychiatry fails. To me psychiatry does not honor the human spirit and discounts the ability of humans to heal themselves through time, love and positive relationships and ignores societal, cultural, economic, institutional, familial, religious and environmental factors that influence us all.
Oh, to what depths will The Times sink! And to think we let it into our house (in my much younger years) as a respected and admired journal of modern life! I will not rest easy until the Times apologizes for atrocities such as this one!
This comes as no surprise. 50+ years ago Abram Hoffer and Humphry Osmond were on the blacklist because they thought vitamins B3 and C were therapeutic for the schizophrenia syndrome and the Times resolutely refused to publish anything positive about them for years.
Suffering is a very real thing. Being extremely depressed is real. Anxiety is real. Panic is real. Not being able to concentrate is real. People with horrible personalities who unwarrantedly hurt people who have done no wrong to them, who consistently lie etc. are real. In what way or form can one deny that human suffering (whether it is caused due to internal factors or caused by another human being, or made through your own choices) is not real? Of course it is. And people are desperate for help in these circumstances.
But in which kind of a bizzaro world is labeling people with circular and seriously stigmatising labels for life, turning their lives into medical files, turning them into revolving door patients, prescribing drugs which are just as bad as what they claim to heal, not doing anything about the actual problems in hand, be it financial or social, any kind of “treatment”?
And yes, people do commit suicide. Some people commit suicide because they have no money, some people commit suicide out of humiliation, some out of indignity, some because they’re depressed for whatever reason. But again, some people also commit suicide because of the aforementioned kind of “help” given by the shrink business.
Hi registeredfothissite – i just wanted to say that there are the few working within the NHS who are compassionate. Like yourself indeed there are those rare nurses and doctors who really believe that their numbing treatments help too. that too is real.
“…People with horrible personalities who unwarrantedly hurt people who have done no wrong to them, who consistently lie etc..”
I’ve witnessed some dreadful game playing within the Mental Health System in the UK, and the total incapacity of any complaint system, and I have only been on the Mental Health periphery. I’ve witnessed doctors in telling outright lies and covering up for other bent doctors.
But I also have a very tricky (though very dated) history, and this might be why I’m coming across this type of medical uselessness.
My natural tendency is to defend myself and I have been doing this to the best of my ability and resources.
Yes I agree Fiachra, the medical field is up for corruption. I agree. Especially Mental Health. But i have also witnessed in my 44 year history as an in patient and out patient doctors and nurses with compassion. I have met psychiatrists with compassion. They are not interested in my life experiences or expectancies but they firmly believe they are helping people. Honestly! I don’t think these misguided doctors really want to harm their patients.
My current psyche nurse is very compassionate but believes in her medication. I had an ex nurse who is a wonderful guy and we are still friends and keep touch and he worked within the Ronnie Laing movement years ago he just came to believe that psyche medication had a place to play with his patients. Maybe it does? For some having their feelings numbed is quite a god send when they are suffering so so much emotionally and no amount of talking therapy can help them.
These drugs also sedate which is quite kind. Although too drugged up your energy is zapped and this in itself is cruel. I am not zapped. I am sleeping well although tonight for other reasons i find i am awake but i have slept all day. I am wondering whether to stay on this dosage of the Haldol because it does help me sleep and i have always had major issues with insomnia.
I am always swaying over the fence of whether psyche medication should be used or not? This surely is for the individual to decide! It is a personal choice but everyone should have informed consent. Nobody should be forced to take psyche meds or any other medication for that matter.
If i decide to take my life that is my business. If a doctor decides to take my life he is playing god.
Nobody can play god. But then i ask myself is my life my own to take? Or once born and given life should you never destroy it? It is my belief once gone then that probably is the end of it. I am glad doctors and nurses saved my life when i almost died from suicide attemtps. I am glad i am alive today. I was attempting my life long before i ever consulted a psychiatrist. My psychotherapist hadn’t the power to keep me from hospital admissions.
One thing i do know and there is an old Lancashire saying – ‘Where there is life there is hope!’
Altruistic Evil I’ve heard it called.
They say that some of the workers at the concentration camps could take babies from mothers arms and kill them, and then go home to their families and eat dinner. I’m a bit like the guy who interrupted my killing in the ED in that sense, I don’t have the stomach for it. But the people who were plotting to murder me were actually quite nice folk who simply found themselves in a tricky situation, and like most people didn’t want to go to prison, so they used their position of trust to kill a few folk. And you can’t blame them for calling in a few favours from police for that.
I think the Milgram, Zimbardo and Asch experiments tell us a little more than we need to know in some regards. I mean the politicians telling us that “more than 85% of the public wants Euthanasia to be legal” is a classic example of how to exploit social pressure to enact laws that politicians want, but do not want the community discussion surrounding them. Make them believe their in the minority if they don’t agree with your policies, when the reality (for me at least) was that not a soul I spoke to actually agreed with the legislation (Euthanasia), maybe because of the conservative people I mix with but …. our voices were not heard during the debate.
Boans, I think euthanasia was asked for because people are sick and tired of being told by their gatekeepers that we should suffer until the bitter end.
So just as we are sick and tired of being controlled in the psychiatric field, we are sick and tired of control in the medical field.
And no worries, Assisted deaths won’t be allowed to the “mentally ill”, they have to suffer a regular natural death no matter how horrid.
Again, with assisted dying, one has to prove themselves to the hierarchy.
I think it is high time for others not to make decisions for us. As it stands, they “allow” people some privileges.
There is and never has been a need to suffer until the bitter end Sam. There is no State authority that is going after people who have taken their lives sucessfully.
My concern, as I have noted, is that in my State, the protections afforded the community under the law (Mental Health Act) are being ignored by the very authorities charged with ensuring their enforcement due to them wishing to have carte blanche, and no one is willing to stand up and say anything about it.
Apply that attitude to Euthanasia laws and what have we got? Oh but our politicians who have passed both sets of laws ignore one set of protections, and yet claim they will ensure the others? And we believe them? And I don’t for a moment expect anyone to believe what i’m saying about the Chief Psychiatrists dereliction of duty, and the Minister not liking the protections and therefore rewriting the law to enable arbitrary detentions for mental health workers, but I do believe it important that someone who actually understands the law checks. Rather than have some incompetent lawyer tell us that if people are being snatched from the street for absolutely no reason that it is “the spirit of the Act”. And what is the spirit of the Euthanasia Act? To ensure doctor isn’t late for his tee time at the Country Club?
The very same person (Minister for Health) who boasts about the legal protections in the Euthanasia Act has deliberately overlooked the protections afforded in the Mental Health Act because if he were to recognise them then it would mean people are being kidnapped and tortured, and he doesn’t like the sound of that and prefers to call citizens (with protection) “patients” (without protection), and then kidnap and torture is detain and refer. We should call him Houdini. Consider the power of being able to make a citizen into a patient AFTER you have done an operation on them. No plunging a knife into someones chest isn’t unlawfully killing, it was an operation done in a back alley by a medical professional. And given that they have shown me that they distribute fraudulent documents to lawyers they can make anything a reality. Fact, authorised by the Clinical Director of the hospital in a memorandum which was ‘accidentally’ included in the documents for the lawyers. Someone who doesn’t want to be identified obviously doesn’t agree with the torture program they are running, shame they are so afraid of loosing their job though.
Making ’emotions’ illnesses and trying to treat them is wrong, but making dying a medical procedure steps over a line in my opinion. And especially when the State is not prepared to respect the legal protections they claim to be affording the community. If the way my matters were dealt with by the State were applied to the Euthanasia Act they could kill arbitrarily and not a damn thing anyone could do about it (other than rely on the medical mafia to deal with those who are deemed to be going beyond what would be considered reasonable). The doctor who suspected on reasonable grounds that the patient would be dead within 6 months, and had their consent to end their life would become the doctor who suspected on grounds he believed to be reasonable (ie their a bucks to be made) has completed a fraudulent consent form and sent it to the families lawyers and ended the citizens life.
I challenge anyone who has examined my documents to show me how or why it could not be done. Because if it were, the authorities would do a cover up here, and ensure that no action were taken to protect their already tainted reputation. Better they use their positions of trust to fuking destroy peoples families than be seen for what they are, frauds and slanderers.
The only way they would gain the trust of the public would be to ensure that the community was made aware that if something was done that was illegal, they would act swiftly and according to the law, not have police tell people that they don’t have a copy of the criminal code and that the Authority that deals with licencing of doctors doesn’t know its a crime to ‘spike’ peoples drinks with benzodiazepines. Thats the sort of attitude you get in a Police State not a supposed democratic society. Still, as i’ve said before the world gives you lemons, make lemonade and well, a torture tourism program seems to be more than on the cards. Come Kuddle a Koala in Kakadu lol Throw another tourist into the Locked Ward would ya Mr Hogan.
Speaking of which I actually met a guy who was from Canada who they eventually deported. Interesting that his government (via their consulate) was regularly calling in to ensure his safety. Guess they have reason to be concerned about their citizens given the way we are treating our own people here. Well done Canada.
Consider, we have the Minister for Health who has the facts in front of him. And he has said he does not have a problem with citizens being ‘spiked’ with benzos so they collapse, and when they do, plant items on them for police to find and make a referral to a Community Nurse. This Community Nurse then fabricates the ‘reasonable grounds’ for transporting the person against their will to a locked ward of a mental institution where, because of the lack of resources all they can do is drop them with enough anti psychotics to lay an elephant out for a week. Seems a bit convoluted and riddled with issues to simply get someone to a hospital for treatment they don’t need for illnesses they don’t have don’t you think?
I mean, I really don’t know if its me but what was done seems totally unreasonable, but when your dealing with a Minister who doesn’t understand reason what would you expect.
And of course with the slander being applied the Minister finds it very easy to pass the buck as the complaint is a result of some fabricated illness now that requires drugging.
I mean I get it that his sister, the psychologist, was quite possibly involved given her friendship with the person doing the spiking, but surely he can put his family issues aside from his duties as Minister? Is Nepotism listed in the DSM?
Am I being unreasonable thinking that I shouldn’t be allowed to be ‘spiked; and have items planted on me to obtain a police referral and exploit the loophole in the Convention against the use of Torture? I mean if it’s me then i’ll wear the loss of my family and career and home and well, literally everything. Otherwise I ask that these criminals be brought to justice as it should be.
Removed for moderation.
You have a FORTY FOUR year “experience” as in inpatient and outpatient?! Damn, I didn’t read that part. So, it has basically never ended. I wonder how old you are? Good god, I hope this doesn’t end up being my fate. I have no desire for such an “experience” and I have no desire for their “compassion”. I want the whole thing out of my life and that’s very hard to do! However, it is good that MIA exists. At least, the younger generation like myself gets an idea of how long-lasting this can be, and does whatever it can to avoid the kind of life that people who came before us had.
Please don’t take this as condescension. Take it as someone expressing their horror.
By any chance, did you contact the New York Times about it?