UN Report: Involuntary Psychiatric Interventions “May Well Amount to Torture”

In a new report, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture writes that "Involuntary psychiatric interventions based on 'medical necessity' or 'best interests' may well amount to torture."


The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has just presented a report on “psychological torture” to the UN Human Rights Council, which can be downloaded as a Word file by clicking here.

This report issues the strongest condemnation to date of involuntary psychiatric interventions based on the supposed “best interests” of a person or on “medical necessity.” Such interventions, the report says, “generally involve highly discriminatory and coercive attempts at controlling or ‘correcting’ the victim’s personality, behaviour or choices and almost always inflict severe pain or suffering. In the view of the Special Rapporteur, therefore, if all other defining elements are given, such practices may well amount to torture” (paragraph 37, see also 84(e)).

In addition, the report views the psychiatric context as one in which psychological torture can take place (paragraph 78). This makes the report as a whole useful for us to consider in advocacy and litigation, both at the national level in any country and with regional and global human rights mechanisms.

For human rights lawyers, the report’s condemnation of involuntary “best interests” psychiatric interventions is significant in four respects1:

  • Asserts such interventions can meet the criteria for torture, not only as part of the broader category “torture or other ill-treatment”;
  • Makes explicit how the criterion of purpose in the definition of torture is met when it relates to discrimination, i.e. that only a discriminatory nexus and not a discriminatory purpose is required (paragraph 36);
  • Makes explicit that such interventions “generally involve highly discriminatory and coercive attempts at controlling or ‘correcting’ the victim’s personality, behavior or choices” and “almost always inflict severe pain or suffering”;
  • Situates psychiatric interventions alongside other similar practices, which relate to contexts that overlap disability and other grounds of discrimination (paragraph 37).

Also worth noting from a legal standpoint is the explicit statement that powerlessness is a constitutive element of torture, and that this is typically the case in “institutionalization, hospitalization or internment” as well as through the deprivation of legal capacity or “incapacitating medications” (paragraph 40).

The report does not address the “danger” criterion for psychiatric interventions, only “best interests” and “medical necessity.” My analysis is, as it has always been, that “danger to self” is encompassed under “best interests” and thus precluded as a justification, while “danger to others” can never be a justification for the infliction of harm that otherwise would amount to torture (otherwise, the entire torture framework would be subject to utilitarian exceptions said to be necessary for public safety). Advocates should be sure to address this dimension and be aware that no exceptional justification exists for “danger” under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD; Guidelines on Article 14, paragraphs 6, 7, 13-15).

The report views involuntary psychiatric interventions as a kind of psychological torture, which seems to me only partially correct. Psychological torture is defined as “all methods, techniques, and circumstances which intend or are designed to purposefully [read: or discriminatorily, see paragraph 36] inflict severe mental pain or suffering without using the conduit or effect of severe physical pain or suffering.”

It is true that overall the system of involuntary psychiatric interventions employs techniques of psychological torture that may predominate in our impression of the system as a whole. But it also uses techniques, such as mechanical restraints and the administration of mind-altering drugs and electroshock, that are applied to the body. The characterization of drugs and electroshock as psychological refers to the action directly on the mind through the conduit of the brain, but the use of these techniques does not fall under any of the analytical categories of psychological torture advanced in this report. It is really a unique kind of torture that sits at the juncture of mind and body and interferes in the mind-body relationship. Drugs and electroshock cause physical harm that often entails pain and suffering (akathisia, lethargy, weight gain, diabetes) as well as objective harm to brain structure and function that the person may or may not be subjectively aware of, and psychological harm and suffering caused by the interference with the body-mind juncture as such. This is an issue advocates should explore further through their own experience and analysis.

One detail that advocates should be aware of regarding the discussion of solitary confinement in the report is the failure to mention that the use of this technique in medical facilities is impermissible under the CRPD as a form of torture or other ill-treatment (Guidelines on Article 14, paragraph 12). The CRPD offers stronger protection in that regard, since the general standard in international law is to prohibit solitary confinement only when it is “prolonged or indefinite.” Advocates should investigate the materials cited in the report to gain a better understanding of the general standard and consider how best to make the argument in particular instances.

The report is especially valuable for its extensive discussion of psychological torture and the concept of “torturous environments,” viewing torture holistically as victims experience it, “not as a series of isolated techniques and circumstances, each of which may or may not amount to torture” (paragraphs 45, 68-70, and 86).

Psychological torture is said to affect the victim’s mind and emotions by “directly targeting basic psychological needs, such as security, self-determination, dignity and identity, environmental orientation, emotional rapport, and communal trust” (paragraph 43). Victim-survivors of psychiatric violence will find a great deal that speaks to our experiences, and the logic of the framework set out by the Rapporteur gives us ample material for an argument that involuntary psychiatry as a whole amounts to a “torturous environment.”

The Rapporteur himself does not make that conclusion, and it is important to stress that his analytic framework is meant to be used on a case-by-case basis. Nonetheless, the framework provides the scaffolding, and a language, to draw out the nature of the full range of objective and subjective harms in the psychiatric setting that separately and together can amount to torture.

Examples of psychological methods of torture named in the report that may speak to our experiences include:

  • The inducing of fear by “direct or indirect threats of inflicting, repeating, or escalating acts of torture” (paragraph 47; “the prolonged experience of fear can be more debilitating and agonizing than the actual materialization of that fear” [paragraph 48]);
  • To deprive victims of control, “demonstrate complete dominance and instill a profound sense of helplessness, hopelessness and total dependency on the torturer,” by “arbitrarily providing, withholding or withdrawing access to information, reading material, personal items, clothing, bedding, fresh air, light, food, water, heating or ventilation,” “imposing absurd, illogical or contradictory rules of behavior, sanctions and rewards,” “imposing impossible choices forcing victims to participate in their own torture” (paragraph 49);
  • Humiliation and breach of privacy and sexual integrity, by “constant audio-visual surveillance,” “exposure of intimate details of the victim’s private and family life,” “forced nudity” (paragraph 51);
  • Targeting need for emotional rapport by solitary confinement, incommunicado detention, tolerance of oppressive and bullying behavior among inmates, “fostering and then betraying emotional rapport and personal trust” (paragraph 60);
  • Violation of need for communal trust through institutional arbitrariness, including arbitrary detention and the persecution of individuals or groups (paragraphs 61 and 63).

Regarding the last item, although the report does not mention discriminatory regimes of detention enacted into domestic law, which are arbitrary under international law, the CRPD unequivocally condemns involuntary psychiatric hospitalization as discriminatory and therefore arbitrary detention (see Guidelines on Article 14). The failure to conform national legislation to human rights obligations leaves victims in the same position as any other institutional arbitrariness. This may be one of the most profound forms of harm, separating victims of psychiatry from the society and the state by depriving us of any effective recourse to defend ourselves.

Each of the items, and others I have omitted, will doubtless be suggestive for readers who are familiar with psychiatric violence. I have not drawn out the arguments that would link the examples of psychological torture to the context of psychiatry, and that may best be done through individual cases and country reports.

I have argued, and continue to maintain, that the right to reparation for psychiatric violence is an important claim to dignify survivors as moral subjects capable of being harmed and of requiring accountability for that harm. Reparation addresses the violation of communal trust directly and emphatically, the state reversing its prior policy that set us outside the possibility of relying on state protection and holding itself accountable to do what is needed to restore that trust.

The current report does not take us to reparation, or to UN condemnation of psychiatry as a torturous environment, but it gets us a step closer to making those arguments effectively. It also gives us a great deal of material to use in individual cases.

Show 1 footnote

  1. These four respects are addressed in paragraphs 36 and 37, which are worth knowing in full:

    36. While the interpretation of purposes such as “interrogation,” “punishment,” “intimidation,” and “coercion” is fairly straight-forward, the way the treaty text addresses “discrimination” requires clarification, because it is the only qualifier which is not crafted in terms of a deliberate “purpose.” In order for discriminatory measures to amount to torture, it is sufficient that they intentionally inflict severe pain or suffering “for reasons related to discrimination of any kind.” It is therefore not required that the relevant conduct have a discriminatory “purpose,” but only a discriminatory “nexus.” As a matter of treaty law, this includes any distinction, exclusion or restriction on the basis of discrimination of any kind, which has either the purpose or the effect of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal basis with others, of any human right or fundamental freedom in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field (A/63/175, para.48).

    37. It must be stressed that purportedly benevolent purposes cannot, per se, vindicate coercive or discriminatory measures. For example, practices such as involuntary abortion, sterilization, or psychiatric intervention based on “medical necessity” of the “best interests” of the patient (A/HRC/22/53, para.20, 32-35; A/63/175, para.49), or forcible internment for the “re-education” of political or religious dissidents, the “spiritual healing” of mental illnesses (A/HRC/25/60/Add.1, para.72-77), or for “conversion therapy” related to gender identity or sexual orientation (A/74/148, para.48-50), generally involve highly discriminatory and coercive attempts at controlling or “correcting” the victim’s personality, behaviour or choices and almost always inflict severe pain or suffering. In the view of the Special Rapporteur, therefore, if all other defining elements are given, such practices may well amount to torture.


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.


    • Shooting pains right up the leg nerves after being injected by psy staff. People with lumps as big as golf-balls from reactions to the injections – and that’s the least of it. Neuroleptics just are so horribly painful, and so obviously disfiguring. There’s people who feel sleepy while sitting, then when they go to lie down, their blood goes out of whack and they cannot sleep. All the time like this. And still the forced injections continue. We’ve got to stop governments from attempting to call torture care, it cannot ever be said to be that.

    • Well, according to studies, if the injection is a placebo and not an active drug, your chance of early death is 50% higher. Amazingly, these studies also find that an injection protects you from early death by as much as 30% when compared to swallowing a pill. Might have something to do with the size of the pills, experts are working on it … it’s quite possible all medication will be administered by needle in the future. The relatively large surface area of the buttocks may also be a protective factor …

      • I should add that these percentages are most likely higher in favor of antipsychotic injections and antipsychotics in general, because everyone knows that antipsychotics are not generally taken when a person is not actively psychotic. Maintenance treatment is a myth propagated by the antipsychiatry movement.

        • I have known plenty of people who were on “maintenance antipsychotic treatement,” in fact, almost anyone who had been to an ER for “psychotic symptoms” got on one. Many were forced to take them and had no choice. A lot of foster kids are put on them daily for behavioral problems that have nothing to do with psychosis. Old folks in nursing homes are put on them to manage difficult behavior, again without any “psychotic disorder” diagnosis or even symptoms. It is no myth. It is true that many people (like mathematician John Nash) go off antipsychotics as soon as they are safely away from the authorities. But the standard recommendation I’ve seen for ‘psychosis’ or ‘bipolar disorder’ is “maintenance antipsychotic treatment.” And those who refuse to “comply” are pressured, manipulated, or incarcerated for it. There is no myth involved here.

  1. Once again, we ignore these developments at our own expense by dismissing them as “legalese,” “bureaucratic,” etc., as international pressure may ultimately be the key to undermining the psychiatric gulag once and for all. And Tina will hopefully be there to say “I told you so.” 🙂

  2. Tina, I am so grateful for all of your hard work. Your piece on naming it torture, several years ago, was the first I read on MiA. It was the first I had ever read where I felt like someone “got it”. You inspire me to continue to grow and heal and stand up for others. Thank you for continuing to try to educate the world.

  3. If not for the DSM labels, they would have no basis to enforce.
    When the DSM prevents people from getting basics such as legal rights and medical care,
    we know that we are not dealing with anything “medical”.
    It is all torture. None of it should be “legal”, not on a case by case basis, because no person ever meets
    a psychiatrists demands.
    Not even innocent children. No one considers children being forced? Anyone being put on medication without an ability to know what they are, that is an enforcement.
    This happens to millions of kids every day, their whole lives until old enough to figure out what transpired.

    An absolute insanity. The insanity is within psychiatry.

    It is time for a public debate between clients and psychiatrists.

  4. Thank you, Tina, for this excellent article. As we know (and as I like to keep reminding people) besides akathisia, lethargy, weight gain and diabetes, psychiatric “treatments” also directly cause acute agitation; anxiety; blood vessel hemorrhage; cognitive deterioration (including confusion, memory loss and reduced ability to focus, concentrate, or think at all); constipation; damage to the brain, heart, kidney, liver, pancreas, abdomen, and other internal organs; depression; dehydration; distress; dizziness; dyskinesia; dystonia; fatigue; hallucinations; muscle stiffness, pain and spasticity; osteoporosis; paranoia; parkinsonism; seizures; sexual dysfunction; suicidal and homicidal impulses; tremors; and of course decreased life expectancy (common) and sudden death (rare, but not unknown).

  5. Tina,
    Thanks for all the work you do.
    I believe it is one of the most important issues today, as it has
    affected the world, or should I say infected.

    We should never give up and I really believe that if we make it more public,
    more educational, people will begin to think more about this one huge issue.

    I follow comments on many issues, on news pop ups, online and judging by
    comments from many people on a lot of issues, many people are horrifyingly daft,
    which of course is what keeps the politicians and every authority to keep doing
    what they do.

    We need more from the UN, but I doubt anyone gutsy is going to come along,
    to cause change.
    We simply might have to count on becoming a force, just as slavery was outlawed,
    so I hope that psychiatry will be outlawed as a medical specialty, and as an authority
    over lives.

  6. Psychiatric hospitals are a hell nobody should be taken to against his will.

    People with cognitive problems should be cared AT HOME, as they have fragile psycho-emotional condition which in most cases hospitalization and psychiatric “treatment” only worsens.

    Check out the tragedy of actress Vanessa Marquez. Have not the authorities tried to ‘help’ her by taking to mental hospital, she would be alive today:

  7. Psychiatric ‘hospitals’ are, from the built architecture to the staff and drugs inherently about abuse/torture to force people to do what they want and normalised torture at that. There are at least two locked doors to the outside, even if you are not sectioned you are subject to being locked-up in a closed culture of abuse/torture.

    The so called ‘carers’ are attack dogs – you are denied the ability to shave, cut your hair, wash your clothes. To do any of this you have to ask permission of the attack dogs, at this point you are usually either ignored or they go for you. The patients are also coerced – you are not allowed to say negative things nor complain about the drugs, if you do complain about the drugs the attack dogs are at you until you shut up – into saying positive things about the ward that week to cover up the normalised abuse to the outside ‘regulators’. That is just a few examples. I do not wish to remind myself of the more vile abuse I witnessed and was subject to last year.

    Drug induced AKATHISIA has got to be amongst the worse form of torture any human can suffer without leaving a trace on the body. Psychiatrists know full what they are doing…. To force a drug such as quetiapine – and therefore many of the harms that come with it – at high dose.. 400mg and upwards every day and multiple times a day, plus polypharmacy of other psych drugs for anxiety/insomnia let alone anything else, needs to be recognised for it really is: physical and psychological abuse/torture.

    And I hope the UN Special Rapporteur starts to use the word Akathisia and explains to the world the truth that this condition, caused by psychiatry and GP’s, is the true cause of most suicide today.

  8. Not sure why my initial comment is still in moderation, so let’s try this again.
    Tina, I am so grateful for all of your hard work. Your piece on naming it torture, several years ago, was the first I read on MiA. It was the first I had ever read where I felt like someone “got it”. You inspire me to continue to grow and heal and stand up for others. Thank you for continuing to try to educate the world.

  9. Thank you for this information Tina.

    I note “Examples of psychological methods of torture named in the report that may speak to our experiences include”

    This reads like a ‘play book’ for the Operations Manager who stated she would ‘fuking destroy’ me for complaining about being ‘spiked’ and ‘verballed’.

    When I took the set of fraudulent documents that were sent to our Mental Health Law Centre, and the real set to show Member of Parliament I mentioned some of the comments made about Australias mental health laws being a violation of human rights, and that the treatments may constitute torture to him. It was like throwing Holy water at a Vampire lol. They simply continue to call a spade a shovel, and I believe will continue to do so as long as this system of abuse allows them to exercise power over victims. Even legitimate complaints to our Minister are responded with by suggesting the complainant seek help from mental health services. Dog whistle slander (and a veiled threat) I consider this to be, i’m sure he sees it as care and concern. He has been made fully aware that the “patient” status given to me was as a result of fabrication of a record by a fraud, and yet continues to utter with that false record.

    Though I do wonder now he has stated in writing that he has no problem with citizens being spiked with date rape drugs and ‘verballed’ on statutory declarations to enable arbitrary detentions, how he might feel when he is the target of such vile conduct. I know one of his colleagues found it necesasary to flee the State rather than be subjected to an ‘assessment’ by mental health services here.

    • Sam plover, finding that others actually found their experiences as traumatic as I had, gave me the nudge to listen to my gut and quit allowing “them” to decide what was best whether or not it actually helped or harmed me. It’s taken some years, patience with myself and those I love, and determination to never allow anyone to ever again gain control over my body or mind. They still try, but I am able to close down their ongoing opinions that my trauma and the feelings or responses that now come from it are a disease to be drugged away, to hell with how they effect my body. Never Again.

  10. This would be a funny story if it wasn’t so terrible. We complained aggressively about the torture and negligent hospital care of our son and after FOI of the records found this had been documented as “folie de trois” ie madness of 3 .the next time we both visited our GP for routine stuff he tried to refer us to a psychiatrist.. Sad but true ..no matter how hard it is we have vowed never to trust or engage with a single person involved in this rotten corrupt system including the GP who we now just treat as a script writer . The minister in the same state as boans explained that other people’s sons had been four pointed on a trolley for longer than mine at 97hours and thus we should consider ourselves “lucky “..who is the madperson here???brilliant piece Tina thank you

    • Hi madmother13,

      I read with interest that you have obtained documents via FOI (and assume you know that there are two paths to obtaining those documents? FOI Act and M.H.Act). I know for a fact (and have proved this to a Member of Parliament) that hospital administrators are being allowed to distribute fraudulent documents to lawyers and anyone else that may become involved where a hospital has been negligent (or acted in a criminal manner).

      In my instance even when the hospital figured out that they had been deceived, they engaged with those criminals in an attempt to cover up. I guess this relates to what Tina has mentioned above regarding States that do not wish to have black marks placed against them, they will continue to double down rather than admit their ‘error’ to the point where they will engage with organised criminals to silence any dissent. This includes with the assistance of the Minister who, as was shown in my instance has ensured I was denied access to effective legal representation. I was surprised at how easy that was to achieve, and how willing the community is to turn a blind eye to these abuses.

      “The minister in the same state as boans explained that other people’s sons had been four pointed on a trolley for longer than mine at 97 hours and thus we should consider ourselves “lucky “..who is the madperson here?”

      The person you speak of has recently found himself “appalled” at the manner in which people are being treated in car parks, but note, that is where it ends for him. He is more interested in self promotion and expensive lunches with Roger Federrer than any mental patient. I have often wondered if my wife’s close friendship with his psychologist sister has something to do with the blatant slandering of me and the uttering with forged records to ensure the human rights abuses I have been subjected to are concealed. I would certainly not be turning to him for any resolution, the man is a puppet for the medical fraternity, and cares little about the community other than at election time when he requires their tick in a ballot paper.

      I personally think that some of the Federal members may be interested to know some of what is actually occurring in the State system, mainly because it’s a good measure of how out of control matters are getting because of the negligence in dealing with corruption in the system. Every once on a while they will pluck the eyes out of some of the more predatory animals feeding off the livestock.

  11. There are psychiatrists speaking out against psychiatry.
    So it puts us at a crossroad of “opinions”.

    How I view someone is opinion.
    I can however get an “education” a phd, and make my opinion stick.

    I cannot view someone as to having cancer, then be
    come a doctor and interview them and conclude they have cancer.

    They are speeding it up to create a roadmap or many, to try and create proof of MI.
    They are predictable which is good.

  12. I do have this nagging hunch that, as is true of my own case, the use of the very same strategies and tactics of the domestic violence perpetrator by mental health workers who keep using their role as gatekeepers to deny access to medical care referred by my GP, and to falsely claim I am mentally ill, and need counseling instead, (I proactively refuse consent and invoke rights, doesn’t help of course), would be, if well documented, a helpful way to possibly approach the emotional injury aspect, (though for me it is the economic injury that as it causes loss of resources to survive, is the worst).

  13. Tina, this is definitely promising. Good to see the CRPD also views the psychological aspect of these practices akin to torture. It is so good to know someone with your knowledge and expertise is on this! Hopefully reparations will be in the future. Thanks for all your ongoing involvement with this arduous process. Please keep going!

  14. I do agree with others here, those of us who’ve been harmed by psychiatry did/do need lawyers, and there are next to no lawyers who take cases against the psychiatrists. I also agree the “mental health” system is an abusive, and an abuse covering up system, by DSM design.


    The FBI criminal arrest report of the doctor who forced treated me is the background of a piece of art I did, based upon your No Forced Treatment campaign logo, as can be seen in the art section of MiA. My piece is called “Painted in Red.” If you, or anyone else would like to use it, in your campaign against forced psychiatry, please contact me via text or phone at 312.848.4810. I will eventually be putting this piece of art up on the fineartamerica site, once I get my business set up.

    Thank you, Tina, for all you are doing to help shed light on the staggering in scope, systemic crimes of the psychiatric and psychological industries.

  15. “Nothing about us without us” is a perfectly legitimate slogan but it seems to have been grossly abused over the years, depending what is meant by “us.” Since there is not yet an organization or viable movement which reflects the goals or agenda of psychiatric survivors (though we’re working on it), this means to me that just about everyone out there who is not a survivor should refrain from talking “about us” completely unless they are invited to do so by “us.”

    Putting it another way, only we can define our allies. If we build a movement they will come.

  16. Tina, don’t go away anywhere soon.
    Your language, I wish so much I could speak as accurately, as powerful, truthful and honest.
    It has made me feel empowered and strong. I think many here might feel the leadership and validation in your responses, and that is not to say we need validation because where psychiatry is concerned, when we say NO, we finally validate ourselves…yet to have you put it in such calm and powerful ways supports me in many ways on a personal level.
    It makes me feel I have a true advocate.

    One question Tina, are there funds needed to continue down this/your path?

  17. I don’t base my work on opposition to psychiatry per se or psychiatric drugs, because l see too many people, including many who are identified with the survivor movement and are, legitimately, survivors of horrendous psychiatric violence, using psychiatric drugs.

    The fact that some victims of other forms of “horrific psychiatric violence” remain victims of psychiatric drugs does not change the fact that anyone with a psychiatric label is a victim of psychiatry, whether or not they understand or acknowledge this. Hence objectively psychiatry should be opposed no matter what, since it fraudulently poses as medicine. (Not saying this must be your personal focus.)

    Sorry this has fallen off the MIA home page. I’ll respond privately to your email.

    • I agree Oldhead, that even those who “think” the chemicals “saved” their lives, does not change the fact they are victims of the lies.

      It depends at what point in time the victim thinks they are benefitting. Perhaps in another 2-15 years, their story will have changed dramatically.
      The same people who think it was the chemicals ignore the fluctuation of their experiences, and often don’t recognize what and who sets them into stress mode.
      And when they try to come of chemicals, and experience the fallout, simply think and reassure themselves that it was the add-ons that made them “better”.
      A constant cycle…spellbound

      But then, if someone really wants the chemicals, perhaps they should be available, without the lies attached. IF they were available with ALL the truths, the truth that the chemicals are random, no certain targets except disruption and the likelihood of damage.

      But for certain, the bloody DSM has to go. Those people who WANT chemicals don’t have something called “double depression” “bi-polar” “PD’s” “ADHD” “inappropriate laughter” “magical thinking”

      Psychiatry could simply prescribe according to “client does not feel well”, “so she/he is asking to try the chemicals we have”.
      Obviously that does not sound very “medical”. Not “scientific” enough.
      Although I’m not sure how scientific “inappropriate laughter” or “grandiose thinking” and a bunch of other lies about someone, are.

      • That was in my initial state hospital evaluation — the shrink said that I “laughed inappropriately” at one of his comments.

        Sam, I have noticed your AP consciousness steadily growing. I’m waiting for you to make the leap that the real problem isn’t the DSM, it’s psychiatry en toto. The DSM is just a tactical move on its part.

        • I realize it is psychiatry.
          I know that the DSM is the tactical attempt, which surprisingly seems to qualify as something “medical”.

          Debunking the DSM for what it was and is? Can getting rid of one not collapse the lot?
          The DSM is their glue, albeit quite phenomenal that anyone in their right mind sees the “medical” or “science” in that garbage, dreamed up paperwork.

  18. Would it work, policy-wise, to talk about free and informed consent for psychiatric drugs, from a person-centered human rights point of view?

    There can be no such thing; if there were truly “informed” consent the only people consenting to taking neurotoxic drugs would be those with self-destructive motivations.

    Do we need different approaches for different drugs – e.g. taking some off the market as too harmful based on weight of the evidence, while leaving others?

    It’s all poison in the guise of medicine, hence criminal, maybe even a war crime if we acknowledge that this system is at war with all life.

    Some may argue for legalization of all drugs and other toxic substances; however to justify such drugging in the guise of medicine is always fraudulent and criminal. If the state involves itself in licensing of physicians, prescribing psych drugs as medicine should be outlawed as fraud.

  19. I personally think the human rights approach is the broadest and would have the most general appeal

    Who are we trying to “appeal” to? Liberal mental health workers? Politicians and bureaucrats? What about the “fighting criminal oppression” approach, based on the analysis that the purpose of psychiatry is to enforce conformity to the established social order? Do we have to wait for a majority to “get it” before we assert our human rights? Count me out.

    • We are appealing to anyone who is uninformed and who needs to become educated. The world isn’t broken up into those who agree with eliminating psychiatry and those who sing its praises. Most people don’t really HAVE opinions, they make their opinions based on rhetoric they hear from those whom they assume know more than they do. There is no reason not to reframe psychiatry as a human rights abuse because it will garner more support than trying to convince everyone that psychiatry is a fraud (which it is), because we need the general public opinion to turn against psychiatry. That seems to me the most effective, practical way to do it. Any mass movement requires a mass of people to participate, by definition. It seems to me that the way to get a mass movement going is to have memes that people can get behind in large numbers. Take “MADD” for instance. They didn’t argue that no one should drink, they argued that people should not DRIVE drunk. And they came up with the meme of the “designated driver,” which resonated with big numbers of people.

      I’m not a master of group dynamics or mass movements, but it seems to me that people can wrap their brains around the idea that people deserve to have their rights respected more easily than they can that their doctors are a bunch of charlatans, even if the latter is observably true.

      Hope that makes some sense.

      • This assumes that great numbers of people care, which I don’t think is a realistic assumption. I don’t think this is cynical on my part. The second mistake imo is the idea that if the general populace were more conscious of psychiatric oppression they would be motivated to do something about it. Most people act out of self-interest. The idea of “educating the public” is nice, but strategically we need to immediately focus on those who are likely to take action, and for whom we don’t need to dance on eggshells. The others will have to learn from our example, we can’t hold ourselves back and nurse them along till they’re ready to agree with our agenda. Assuming that “we” means people opposed to psychiatry, not those who entertain hopes of “reforming” it.

      • it seems to me that people can wrap their brains around the idea that people deserve to have their rights respected more easily than they can that their doctors are a bunch of charlatans, even if the latter is observably true.

        You’re getting liberal on me Steve. 🙂

        Are you saying we should put less emphasis on being correct and more on telling people what they’re ready to hear? Isn’t this like news organizations that poll their customers about the kind of news they prefer to read?

        If their “doctors” are clearly charlatans then why express matters in terms of “human rights”? To give people a comfortable euphemism?

        • One can be right all day long and get nothing done. That’s how I’ve experienced attempts to change the system from within. I have no interest in denying reality or polling anyone on what they want to hear about psychiatry, and frankly, given my history, I find that suggestion a little disrespectful. I absolutely agree that calling psychiatrists “doctors” or psychiatry “medicine” is a fraud and needs to be called out as such. The question is how you get masses of people on board with that idea. Most people don’t think with ideas, they react with emotions. That’s why a story in the paper about a poor kid living on the streets with his parents gets tons of donations, while a request for an increase in the welfare budget is met with disinterest or scorn. People have to be grabbed emotionally. Facts don’t convince most people of anything much. Most people are driven by emotional “reasoning,” which is one reason psychiatry has been as successful as it has – it appeals to people’s desire to feel like someone understands something that they don’t, and to people’s desire to blame someone/something in a way that keeps them from having to make any significant changes. It’s how people in groups tend to act. You have to get them excited or angry or worried about something or they will roll with the status quo. At least that’s my experience. Maybe I’m just too cynical!

          • One can be right all day long and get nothing done. That’s how I’ve experienced attempts to change the system from within.

            Bingo! What does that tell you about “working from within”?

            The question is how you get masses of people on board with that idea. Most people don’t think with ideas, they react with emotions.

            Which is something that needs to be recognized and taken into consideration, but we shouldn’t pander to emotions.

            People have to be grabbed emotionally.

            Why? Where has it ever been shown that effective activism can be based on emotions and not understanding? Most survivors don’t need an emotional trigger to hate psychiatry; they’ve already had that, and those who do are not really ready to be effective activists. For that you need a viable analysis and an effective strategy. I doubt we’re going to see the masses on our side until shortly before we win. We need to appeal to those who already understand and hate psychiatry and provide a framework for them to put that understanding (and emotion) into action. It’s not a simple process, but we’re working on it.

            As for your example, I think it demonstrates my point that systemic change cannot be driven by emotions. And none of my critical comments are aimed at individuals, but ideas, I thought you of all people would know that by now.

          • There is a difference between pandering and taking the facts of human behavior into full account when planning a strategy. I would challenge you to show big changes happening against the status quo that were not created with emotional appeals to the masses. Of course, there need to be solid, real, honest ideas that have strong logical backing, because otherwise they don’t WORK. But I can’t think of a major change movement that didn’t employ emotional appeals as a big part of their strategy. I could be wrong, of course, but I’m not seeing examples of “intellectual revolution” being successful. I’m open to hearing examples if you have some. Like I said, it’s not my specialty, just going by what I’ve observed.

          • Of course, there need to be solid, real, honest ideas that have strong logical backing, because otherwise they don’t WORK.

            Bingo again!

            But I can’t think of a major change movement that didn’t employ emotional appeals as a big part of their strategy.

            Some examples would be useful. Of course appeals to emotion have their place, but they are not a substitute for a sound analysis. Just as demonstrations outside the APA and elsewhere at the appropriate juncture would add an exclamation point when we are unified in our beliefs and demands. But recent APA events have mainly highlighted the lack of such unity.

            I’m mainly talking about survivor organizing btw, I’m unconvinced that other than for a few people such as yourself there is significant interest in defeating psychiatry among non-survivors, as opposed to “improving” it, or that many even know the difference. But the time will come.

          • I think that is a legitimate distinction. I was talking about moving from a strong core protest to a larger mass movement. I agree we are not really at a point where that can happen yet, and building a strong intellectually/scientifically viable base is essential to any movement succeeding. It’s just that a lot of people aren’t able to process on the level that is needed to understand the viable base and need their memes and leaders in order to get with the program. It will happen one day, but again, we’re not there yet.

          • Thank you Steve for this comment.

            It is part of the mass hypnosis of – medicine, politics – damn near everything these days. People vote with their emotions, people react and respond with their emotions.

            I was just saying to someone today – that – in order for the hypnosis to be broken, people need to suffer. This is much colder than Anomie’s comment, it’s cruel. But it’s the truth.

            Until someone experiences the harms firsthand, we will not be believed.

            EVEN THEN, they will say, “it was a bad apple,” and not look to the system. It takes even more suffering to break that.

            I wish, Oldhead, that people reacted, responded to facts. But it is obvious that people do not. Therefore it is vital to appeal to emotions, as well.

          • That is the difficult truth JanCarol. Until someone experiences it firsthand (or sees it happen to someone close to them) they remain brainwashed or skeptical.

  20. I agree Steve.
    We simply cannot have a system where doctors have a legal right to DEFAME someone’s character and ALL labels do exactly that.
    It is not something called “stigma”. The word psychiatry invented to try and steer the “public” away from the truth of the matter at hand.
    Truth being that if I tell you I am mentally ill and I have XYZ disorders, I then lose all credibility.
    Real doctors do not operate this way. This is simply maligning someone’s character. Executed by sheer power to do so. Not even objective observation, since everyone can go home with a label.

    The UN could send a few of their folks to a shrink and go for 10 visits and prove it for themselves.
    But they need to send at least 10 people, then another 10.
    I guarantee them that most of them will have their character permanently marked. Then they can get involved in a small court case, insignificant even, or a custody case and see for themselves how that label might prevent, no actually, the bogus label will nullify them as human or upstanding.

    Then they can battle a disease and see what their fancy defamation label gets them in hospital.

    NO PERSON should have to spend the rest of their life as a substandard person.

    Murderers do not get branded this way.
    In fact, if a killer never steps into psych, he walks this earth non defamed unless he tells someone what he did, in which case he only loses respect to those few.

    We do NOT HAVE whatever that idiot in the chair decides. If people don’t realize that the DSM is at the heart of this crap, we will never move away from the chains.

      • Not sure why it is not happening Steve.
        We all know the outcome, it is so predictable, as psychiatry is.
        I am assured it is the reason that no one in power wants to do it.
        It’s really not even an experiment if one knows the outcome lol, but
        it seems that some need PROOF, yet refuse to be the guys that stepped
        to the plate.
        Of course it is not a proper test if a UN official or politician identify who they are
        ‘and what their test is haha.

        But wait, possibly that in itself would be seen as a disorder. Delusional.

        Put the word out that 10 people are about to come to psychiatry, in disguise, to prove that everyone walks out with labels.
        I bet for the next while, no labels would be given.

        • “Put the word out that 10 people are about to come to psychiatry, in disguise, to prove that everyone walks out with labels.
          I bet for the next while, no labels would be given.”

          From Wiki
          “Rosenhan used a well-known research and teaching hospital, whose staff had heard of the results of the initial study but claimed that similar errors could not be made at their institution. Rosenhan arranged with them that during a three-month period, one or more pseudopatients would attempt to gain admission and the staff would rate every incoming patient as to the likelihood they were an impostor. Out of 193 patients, 41 were considered to be impostors and a further 42 were considered suspect. In reality, Rosenhan had sent no pseudopatients; all patients suspected as impostors by the hospital staff were ordinary patients. This led to a conclusion that “any diagnostic process that lends itself too readily to massive errors of this sort cannot be a very reliable one”

          Reliability would destroy the uses that psychiatry is being put to. It’s main uses depend on it not being valid or reliable, and then the claim can be legitimately made that they’re not very good at what they do, sorry for the mistakes.