A Bridge Over Troubled Water: What’s This About Being a Hopeless Reformer?


I’ve come to a realization: I seem to have become a kind of bridge over the troubled water of mental health care. In other words, my role within the Mad in America community has been to provide a perspective largely conditioned by six years as a state mental health commissioner. What does this mean and how did it come about? And what good might come from it?

First, what does it mean? I’ve observed for some time in the Mad in America community that I think differently than most others. I believe that, realistically speaking, psychiatry isn’t going away. State legislatures are not anywhere near abolishing involuntary “treatment.” The mental health “system” will not be reformed in the short-term. Cultures in everything from state hospitals, to community-based inpatient programs, to crisis services, to outpatient settings don’t change quickly.

Changes require not only culture change but also financial considerations, rethinking policies, revising practice standards. If we are going to improve care, we will not destroy it any time soon. So maybe I am a hopeless reformer. And maybe the view of me as overly comfortable with current realities represents a dangerous complacency on my part.

Every time I post a blog, I get pretty severe criticism from people who I respect for the purity of their vision but who I see as too far outside the realm of systems to actually have much impact on them. As I noted already, they do keep me and others from getting too comfortable with current practices. My return concern about their position is that while it may help with ventilating completely understandable grievances—the system really is very destructive in very personal and important ways—it leads nowhere that I’ve seen.

I find myself asking questions like these: What changes are needed in terms of policies, legislation, administration, clinical standards, training, political alliances, advocacy at local, state and federal levels to accomplish these reforms? Will some of these require legal interventions like lawsuits or court challenges? Is investigative journalism a piece of the puzzle? Do we have connections with newspapers or radio or television resources? Are there members of the media who could speak up from their personal experience? Is there progressive and courageous leadership inside the system anywhere? Are there people with lived experience who can speak personally and articulately to things that damaged them as well as things that worked? What would the changes and change processes cost, who would pay, and over what period of time?

Can we craft alliances with progressive professional organizations like NASW, Doctors for America, the American Psychological Association? What about our friends like NARPA Disability Legal Rights Center, ISEPP,  and the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association? Then, getting a little outside our usual circles, what about the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD), Doctors for America, or the National Association of Counties (NACo)? Could we somehow engage the conservatives like the National Council on Behavioral Health or the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors?

What if we developed plans with timelines to move an agenda forward for change? Where will resistance to the changes come from—the American Psychiatric Association, law enforcement circles, NAMI? Are there private foundations, philanthropists or non-profit organizations like the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care that might become involved one way or the other? How do we come up with meaningful ways of messaging that get through to more than us as a “choir?”

What are key leverage points to consider? For example I’ve advocated that honest and accurate informed consent for the prescribing of psychiatric medications is an important one. Another would be greatly expanded professional education resources like our Mad in America Continuing Education project. Are there institutions of higher learning to confront and how would we do that? What about amplifying peer certification approaches and are there risks?

In my experience as a state mental health (and addictions) commissioner, these kinds of considerations need to be hammered out at local, regional, state and national levels. They take time. They usually require taking advantage of opportunities like public fears and scandals, fiscal and other crises. None of this happens easily. It takes more than anger and outrage—as important as these are at various stages of the game.

So, have these kinds of approaches worked anywhere? I think so. There are examples of public funding for Open Dialogue adaptations. These came about through local leadership taking advantage of private foundation resources and then converting pilots that started in this way into community mental health budgets.

Another instance is a project, now 15 years old, in a state hospital. It started with two key state level leaders who knew of examples of peer delivered services and turned this knowledge into a Peer Services Recovery Department.

A third progressive reform is a peer support system developed by a person with lived experience for people with both alcohol/drug and mental health challenges. It began with public forensic services funding but expanded with a variety of local community corrections support, public acute psychiatric finances and managed care funding. This latter peer-controlled service grew through strong private nonprofit leadership taking advantage of the increasing interest in the recognition of people with mental health challenges who end up in hospitals, jails and prisons. All of this has been stirred up by heightened media attention to the crisis.

I doubt that this way of looking at system change will please everyone in the Mad in America world. In fact, the dissenting voices keep us possibly hopeless reformers from being naive about the damage that has been done for decades and centuries. The tension is real, but anger alone will change nothing. Believing the system will be abolished is totally unrealistic. It is critical that we do a better job of translating the desire to move away from the medical model into a more pragmatic and successful approach. We have major challenges ahead if we want to reduce and eventually eliminate forced treatment, dismantle the false belief that medications restore chemical imbalances, and establish creative practice reforms like Open Dialogue.

I do hope that outlining my difference in approach will be of some use to those who want to see concrete improvements in culture and practice take place and lead to meaningful and substantial directions to reduce abuse, discrimination, and malpractice in a psychiatric world that is extremely dysfunctional.


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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  1. Although greatly appreciate Mr. Nikkel’s candor and realist position, it is extremely disheartening given the articles appearing on on same page, namely: “Antipsychiotic Trials Show Increasing Placebo Response” as well as “Antidepressant use Continues to Climb Among Youth on Medicaid. Although I firmly believe psychiatry should be abolished, particularly “Child Psychiatry,”unfortunately, the “biomedical charade” is too deeply entrenched throughout society, for it serves as a functional explanation for a majority of society–an explanatory function in which psychiatry maintains a death grip. The more dysfunctional it becomes the tighter the grip. It is equally mind boggling that medical schools continue to fund and maintain “Departments of Psychiatry,” of which, only serve to churn out spurious “studies” geared to tighten the death grip, and that medical students would choose to specialize in such a dubious specialty. Disheartening indeed.

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  2. What are you hoping for Robert Nikkel? I applaud your hard work and sincerity, but am not sure what you intend to accomplish in the way of helping people.

    Psychiatry will abuse since it’s profitable and asking shrinks nicely to please quit destroying our lives isn’t working. Why should they? They have no reason to.

    My real hope is grass roots education of people who are not invested in “mental illness.” Ex-NAMI members who watched the psych system kill family members. (Not hyperbole.) Faith groups who reject the philosophy intrinsic to psychiatry of monism. Others who have seen the devastating consequences of long term SSRI use.

    People who desperately long to escape the Madhouse Without Walls but don’t see a way. They need help escaping an abusive system.
    Not asking, very politely, to please be a little less harmed. Pretty please. 🙁

    I was surprised at how much support I got in my choice to leave psychiatry. I showed loved ones the evidence of cognitive decline created by the treatments and the lack of evidence for any pathology corrected by the same. A lot of people want to get better. A lot of friends and family are upset too at what shrinks think is acceptable quality of life. Including very early deaths.

    If we must embrace lost causes, I prefer hopeless abolitionist to hopeless reformer. If success is impossible let us aim high!

    Even if I never slay the Dragon at least I can help some people escape being burned or eaten by it.

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  3. “Are there people with lived experience who can speak personally and articulately to things that damaged them as well as things that worked?”

    From what I have read on this website, there are such people. But as you suggest, Robert, the personal stories shared here are being read by others who have been hurt by the system and/or who already believe the system should be reformed if not abolished, so these authors are for the most part “preaching to the choir.”
    I filed a formal complaint with a hospital where I’d received treatment, and although the filing of a complaint might be seen as an inherently “aggressive” act, I worked very hard, in describing my experience, both verbally and in writing, to maintain a non-aggressive tone because I did not want the people tasked with hearing my grievances to be “on the defensive”. I very much wanted them to be able to hear me…because what I wanted from them, at that point, more than anything, was validation. Validation that I had been put in several discreet situations in which my health, my ability to trust treatment providers, and my prospects for recovery were threatened and/or damaged. Unfortunately, I did not get the validation I was seeking. Instead, the response was to patronize, then ignore me. At that point, I lost diplomacy and reverted to an aggressive tone…I felt I had put in the effort and still had not been heard.
    The other thing I’d hoped to achieve in filing the complaint was to present an argument for the need for a patient advocate who is not in any way beholden to the system to be assigned to any patient receiving a hospital level of care. I tried to get across the idea that, in my experience, any therapist, psychiatrist, social worker, etc who is employed by the “system” has an inherent conflict of interest, in that if they speak up about what they see as a patient being unfairly treated/harmed, they are very likely to experience repercussions due to the tacit agreement between treatment providers to “stick together”. To my disappointment, I got no feedback on this argument.
    While systemic reforms require people with lived experience being able to speak articulately about what harmed them and what helped, it also requires people working in the system who will listen. In my case, it was the absence of people who would listen that led me to conclude that the system can’t be reformed.

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    • There is nothing inherently “aggressive” about filing a complaint. It is everyone’s right to do so. Only those afraid to deal with the consequences of their actions regard a formal complaint as an act of aggression. Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot of such people working in the “Mental health” system!

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      • You’re right, Steve. I may have a touch of Stockholm Syndrome or over-identification with the perspective of my former treatment providers (it was a long 35 years). If I think of complaint-filing in another context, I see that the act in and of itself is not an aggressive one.
        A few weeks ago I was driving on the highway and somehow I wound up with two flat rear tires. My car was towed to Pep Boys, where they replaced both rear tires and said I was “good to go”. I got back on the highway and, after driving 20 miles or so, I saw that both of the new tires had lost quite a bit of air. By the time I got to my destination, both tires were almost flat. I had the car towed to another Pep Boys, where they replaced the valve stems and put the lost air back in the new tires.
        If I write to Pep Boys corporate office and say, “Such and such happened, when they replaced my flat tires they should have checked the valve stems and because they didn’t I wound up in an unsafe situation…I’m glad that the second time my car was brought in, they replaced the valve stems but that really should have been done the first time…etc.” that probably wouldn’t be interpreted by the powers that be at Pep Boys as an act of aggression but more of a straight-talk, here’s my opinion about the service I received and how your company could have done better type of thing.
        So, you’re right…people providing services should in general be open to feedback from the person receiving the service. So when I say, “I would have preferred, rather than the doctor saying, ‘You have borderline personality disorder. That’s why the ECT didn’t work,’ that he would make the diagnosis prior to needlessly shocking my brain thus sparing me brain damage” it’s just feedback from a service-user. Thank you for reminding me that it was my right to provide that feedback.

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        • I had a similar experience and agree with your comment:

          “In my case, it was the absence of people who would listen that led me to conclude that the system can’t be reformed.”

          I have tried very hard in the 5 years since I concluded, after 50 years of therapy on and off, that therapists couldn’t help with whatever my condition was, often did not know what my condition was or may have been, they may have made things worse and yet — they remain uninterested in considering that or in hearing about my experience, even when I have provided feedback.

          It’s hopeless. A grass roots movement may help eventually, but probably not in my lifetime. I see nothing on the horizon now and I’m getting toward the end of my time. I don’t know how to start anything, either.

          Mad in America is a good start, but my disastrous experiences were with the institution of psychotherapy and therapists, not so much with psychiatry as it is now.
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    • “While systemic reforms require people with lived experience being able to speak articulately about what harmed them and what helped, it also requires people working in the system who will listen. In my case, it was the absence of people who would listen that led me to conclude that the system can’t be reformed.”

      I ran into a very similar situation. I filed a complaint to a “patient advocate,” and got ignored. The doctor who’d illegally (my signature had been forged on the voluntary consent paper, according to the expunged court documents) held me against my will and had me “snowed” (drugged until only the whites of a persons’ eye show). He was later convicted by the FBI for fraud because he had been having lots and lots of patients medically unnecessarily shipped long distances to himself, snowing them, so he could have unneeded tracheotomies performed on them for profit. Of course, I’d been admitted into that hospital with a non-existent “chronic airway obstruction,” exactly what an unneeded tracheotomy would “cure.”

      I don’t know how many people that doctor killed, but he would have been stopped six years before he was, if the patient advocate had taken my complaint seriously. The system is absolutely corrupted, and I too believe it can’t be reformed.

      Nor do I believe it needs to be, since we have shown that the primary actual societal function of both the psychological and psychiatric industries is covering up child abuse, which is illegal.


      But all this child abuse covering up is by DSM design:


      And we have found the iatrogenic etiology of the two “most serious” DSM disorders. The “bipolar” symptoms are created with the antidepressants and ADHD drugs. The negative “schizophrenia” symptoms are created via neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome. And the positive symptoms of “schizophrenia” are created via antidepressant and/or antipsychotic induced anticholinergic toxidrome.

      And since the two “most serious mental illnesses” are actually iatrogenic illnesses created with the psychiatric drugs, I don’t believe there is actually a need for either, the primarily child abuse covering up, psychological or psychiatric industries. An industry should only be able to exist if it is benefitting the society. And child abuse covering up industries benefit the pedophiles and child sex traffickers, who are destroying our country, but not our society at large.


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    • I like your comments, Kate! And I will add another thought using my personal experience and perspective. Not only do people within the mental health system need to listen, they also need to share their own stories of being traumatized by the very same system. But they are caught in their extreme interpretation of their ethic about no personal disclosure and the system’s conflict of interest restrictions, and many don’t yet even perceive the trauma in their environment.

      Like I myself have done mostly during the earlier part of my own recovery from trauma experiences and extreme states (and I am still vulnerable to doing again if I get lax or am caught off guard), mental health system personnel can become defensively aggressive when they intend well but simultaneously feel guilty for their part in a system perpetuating pain much of the time. In my case as a “mental health professional,” it was a double dose. I had my own personal life trauma, and then I eventually worked in a mental health hospital while loathing much of what I saw and had to rub up against.

      First, in my personal life into adulthood, I totally did not connect my own trauma experiences with some of the extreme states I experienced and the mistakes I couldn’t explain I was making. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and that for me needed to be as hidden as I could keep it, and it was how I internally accounted for my troubles. Although I understood and “empathized” with those publicly sharing their trauma stories, I was blind and numb to my own. And no rational discussion, education, or therapy helped. What ultimately helped was folks more personally sharing their stories with me and showing me compassion when I was confused, ashamed, and defeated. They didn’t have to tell me that they empathized; they showed me, and showed me how to do it. I now am thankfully open with my story and have come to understand myself and others with trauma experiences much more meaningfully.

      Second, I eventually worked in a mental health hospital, but could buffer myself pretty well from its trauma potential by staying on a course guided by the ethics and humane principles I was taught in non-traditional training programs. And, I was truly fortunate to have worked most of my professional career elsewhere with others similarly dedicated,. But the hospital experience at the end evolved into some travesties the system can produce. In that situation, my adherence to principles made me a target of the well-intended “experts” who saw my insistent assertions of humane principles as being obstacles to their medical approach and the fulfillment of what they had learned. As responsible administrators left during this decline, I began to lose my own centering while becoming re-traumatized, and became a vocal opponent unwilling to resign, and up for the fight. I didn’t recognize that I was fighting others similarly system-traumatized. I might have done better at bringing my points to bear had I been aware and could have shown compassion as I firmly maintained my principles. But I was still learning and in the thick of it. I left just before they were to fire me. They learned nothing from my sharpening claims of their incompetence, and I had to learn about what happened inside me via more recovery and the kind sharing of others.

      So, today I am better prepared to show the kind of compassion your comment (and some others) above shows, and I admire your patient explanation to Bob. I think your tone of compassion will bring greater understanding than even your good explanation. No matter, you are living Recovery Principles, and that is a great model for us all and most likely to be effective. Retaliating in kind never works. IMHO. Thank you.

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  4. I believe that, realistically speaking, psychiatry isn’t going away.

    Which in terms of the power of visualization (in this instance negative visualization) means you accept it and perpetuate it, rather than at least allowing it to wither away under the constriction of it’s own contradictions.

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    • OH

      Exactly and that goes for the critical psychiatrists as well. I remember the post this author did seeking to humiliate psych survivors who post on here. I have no time for him after that.

      And I would like to point out that ALL psychiatrists went through the training and that meant using coercian and sometimes force to subject people to neurotoxic abuse/torture for months into years even if there are a few who nolonger deal in this vile drug abuse.

      Psychiatry needs to die!

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    • “I believe that, realistically speaking, psychiatry isn’t going away.

      “Believing the system will be abolished is totally unrealistic.”

      Thus spoke the Philistines, Saul, and the Israelites before David slew Goliath.

      Thus spoke slaveholders in the South before Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation.

      Thus spoke Neville Chamberlain before Winston Churchill rose to power and the Allied Forces conquered Hitler and the Nazi regime.

      Thus spoke every naysayer and doubter who has since become a hiss and a byword in the annals of history.

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  5. “Every time I post a blog, I get pretty severe criticism from people who I respect for the purity of their vision but who I see as too far outside the realm of systems to actually have much impact on them. As I noted already, they do keep me and others from getting too comfortable with current practices. My return concern about their position is that while it may help with ventilating completely understandable grievances—the system really is very destructive in very personal and important ways—it leads nowhere that I’ve seen.”

    I keep writing and deleting, worried about how articulate I should be wording a response and also that there is less anger in my response.

    I wonder if slaves had articulately asked for change and reform rather than abolition, what might have happened?
    Anyway, I doubt it can be changed, reformed….and I am not sure what that means. Are you suggesting that psychiatry has good things to offer? And what exactly does that look like?

    We must by now understand that “stigma” is irrelevant if a neighbour whispers about us, but it is discrimination that exists purely by labels, and also foremost, the destruction that happens to people who are told they ARE hopeless.
    Do I have a somehow inherent right by legislation to destroy someone’s whole life, yet try to prevent them exiting this ruined life? Because for many, that is their only escape.
    In any oppressive society, oppressive by legal sanction, it seems most become comfortably numb.
    And then, we have true warriors like Tina and Paula.
    It is most obviously pointless to argue with psychiatry, or even your next door neighbour.
    For everyone thinks they are saner than the next guy.

    “… lead to meaningful and substantial directions to reduce abuse, discrimination, and malpractice in a psychiatric world that is extremely dysfunctional.”

    The word “reduce abuse” should never be used in an abusive situation or system. If we talk about reducing it, then it must exist? And this is by a “health” organization? Let us be also clear that abuse is more rampant in real medicine, and by cops, ever since psychiatry came along.

    “Are there people with lived experience who can speak personally and articulately to things that damaged them ..”

    Would “articulate” matter? If anything, it leads to being patronized and a mistrust, because psychiatry and general doctors are immersed in dogma that anyone who expresses themselves is trying to manipulate and mislead them. In essence, that “empathy” bone that might have been there, has been eradicated. There is no bridge to communication, and if there was, we would surely NOT be here talking about “reducing abuse”.

    Also, I really don’t like to read the word “medication” .. That is a false word. “chemical substances” is the correct word.

    I really am much interested in what good things you see in Psychiatry? There must be something good in it if you think it can be reformed.
    Was Freud helpful and was that helpfulness coming from a “sane” position? Did any oppressive system arise out of something “sane”, “rational”?

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    • If a friend of mine were being battered by her husband and he was threatening to kill her would it be reasonable for her to sit down and speak in an articulate and reasonable manner about how it hurt when he bloodied her nose and blacked her eyes?

      Even if he promised to change she should look for a shelter. What if he argued that battery was actually good for her and an act of compassion on his part because women can’t function properly without a little external “help”? No apologies or admission of harm.

      Psychiatry would be like the latter. No apologies. No admission of wrongdoing. Just blaming the victim. If the drugs harm them it’s their fault for “resisting” treatments with their bad physiology. If destruction of your brain with ECT doesn’t make you happy, it’s your fault for having Borderline Personality Disorder.

      Your kneecaps shattered when I hit them with a baseball bat? Well if you weren’t so frail like a china doll that wouldn’t have happened.
      You almost bled to death from the knife wound? Well, you shoulda thought of that before you had flesh so soft and stab worthy.

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    • Just a note on ” Do I have a somehow inherent right by legislation to destroy someone’s whole life, yet try to prevent them exiting this ruined life? Because for many, that is their only escape.” Individuals never KNOW relief if they are dead. Better to live. It’s the only way to know anything.

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  6. I doubt very much that anything past screwed customers say, no matter how articulate, results in change, because the paradigm is institutional within our very governments, our gate keepers.
    It is akin to catholics in old England complaining that they are being killed for being catholic and then the protestants complaining about the people burning that occurred under queen Mary. If it is supported by law, no amount of moaning about abuse will achieve change.

    A government that sees abuse as okay, will not be changed. Change usually happens through some horrific events, those which no one seems to be in control of, kind of like covid, or world war 3.
    And it is usually something where even the gatekeepers get to taste oppression.

    In the meantime, I do my best to tell those around me to explain what “mental health” or “mental illness” is. Who gets to be lumped in, who deserves the labels and chemicals, and also, who is deserving of hell or heaven, here or there.
    I simply want them to explain to me, the reasoning. Just like Socrates. lol

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  7. “I do hope that outlining my difference in approach will be of some use to those who want to see concrete improvements in culture and practice take place and lead to meaningful and substantial directions to reduce abuse, discrimination, and malpractice in a psychiatric world that is extremely dysfunctional.”

    How about ELIMINATING abuse, discrimination, and malpractice? Technically, it’s illegal but somehow, this industry gets away with it–which makes it systemic–and in fact most of us realize to what extent these provide the cornerstone of psychiatry, in practice. And when an industry is based on abuse and discrimination and dangerous misinformation, then how on Earth would it reform itself? How could it possibly learn to operate from and with integrity? That would take an entirely new paradigm of thinking, starting with extreme humility and self-responsibility.

    Is psychiatry capable of this? I’d venture to guess that it is not, that it is rather severely stuck in one extremely narrow way of thinking which is the core of “dysfunction.”

    So if they practice dysfunction, then this is what is being passed along to clients, how could it not be? Clients are expected to accomodate dysfunction, which only perpetuates not only anxiety and distress in individuals, but also social dysfunction at large. All this complicated and complex bureacracy to help humanity heal from trauma and abuse we’ve all been putting up with for way too long? I think not, that is beyond absurd and only adds to the confusion, overwhelm, and feelings of powerlessness, nothing else.

    Of course, they’d never admit to doing all of this extreme harm despite all kinds of protests of abuse and torture and extreme manipulation adding up to mind control, then they’d be admitting guilt and would owe their clients big time. But they have, and they do, that is truth. No way to get around that.

    Next step in change would be for psychiatrists to admit their wrongdoing and offer reparations. That would be just, honorable, and courageous, and would offer new hope to people. What exactly would the “reformation dialogue” be about, otherwise? Of course, they can keep lying, covering up, and projecting their guilt onto clients and perpetuating abuse, discrimination and malpractice. It’s a choice.

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    • The irony is that “clients” of the “mental health system” are exposed to the same kind of treatment that created their distress in the first place. Being forced to pretend to agree with an enforced reality is very familiar to children growing up in unloving or emotionally distorted home situations, where they have to “manage” those who are supposed to care for them in order to survive and avoid further harm. How is dealing with a rigid, authoritarian bureaucracy bent on labeling and blaming its victims any different?

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      • Yes, the dynamic does repeat and it adds insult to injury, and that all has to be worked out somehow if one expects healing on this level. That’s hard inner work, doable but quite challenging. Shouldn’t have to be this way but right now the harm they do runs deep and until this stops, people can get stuck in the abyss created by this hellish system.

        However, for me there actually was one big difference: my family didn’t rob me blind like these vampires did, taking my money while disabling me with poison and then all out abuse and discrimination as I was trying to heal from the drugs toxicity. Fortunately I found what I needed to heal and get on with things, and I am generally a very forgiving person and I’ve got a pretty big heart, but it turns stone cold when I think about this horrific institution. Call me extreme, but I wholeheartedly believe it’s completely justified in this case, and totally reasonable. My experience with psychiatry–and, in fact, any tangent of the “mental health” inudstry–can be spelled out in one word: sabotage.

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        • Sometimes recently I’ve been thinking that individual people can be forgiven and healed, but organizations and institutions don’t have their own independent “souls” and so can’t be “forgiven” in the same way. They can only be reformed or eliminated. And as someone wisely noted, the first goal of every organization is to perpetuate itself, so efforts to reform are often doomed, as the internal need to continue doing what has been accepted as “right” is very powerful, especially if rewarded with funds and/or prestige. It is only the most enlightened of organizations that is able to evolve when new data or ideas are brought forward. The “mental health” professions, at least at this time in our history, are seeming to be pretty much the opposite of enlightened. It is almost certain that they will continue to perpetuate the nonsense that their industry is built around unless they are met by some massive force that prevents them from getting rich or powerful by doing so. It has become clear that facts and research are no impediment to the continued psychiatric delusion.

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          • Since organizations/institutions are defined entirely by what they do, one cannot separate the who they are from what they do as one can individuals.

            So I can forgive the psychiatrist who ruined my life–if he wants my forgiveness. But in order to forgive him I must acknowledge that he hurt me. I was wronged.

            No debt means forgiveness is impossible.

            The institution of psychiatry is all about punishing the weak while pretending to be merciful. It has dedicated itself to lies and punishment of the unfortunate. (Occasionally letting criminals off easily or pretending to. Part of their illusion.)

            Deceit and senseless cruelty are evil. While I agree psychiatrists are human beings and some are kind and don’t abuse their powers as much as they could…most are not monsters…but they belong to the APA which demands deceit and cruelty in order to belong.

            Some self deceive (I’m not hurting them. The drugs are good for them since they’d only wind up in asylums anyhow. They don’t have feelings like normal humans do. They’re all defectives, so it’s okay to inflict brain damage on them.) The prominent ones talk out of both sides of their mouths and keep changing the narrative through television interviews and books published.

            The rest go rogue–like the psychiatrists blogging for MIA–or find another line of work. Or commit suicide because they can’t live with the guilt.

            Angry as I am, I would rather a psychiatrist come clean and accept the forgiveness of anyone willing to give it rather than destroying himself. Suicide is a tragedy for anyone.

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          • All true and I agree, Steve, although I have a few specific people in mind–especially one psychiatrist– who totally took advantage of my vulnerability and trust at the time which led to consequences which I, in turn, had to heal and repair on my own, and which was still costly in many ways. This guy was brutal and looking back from a space of more clarity and without the dependence I’d been feeling at the time, to me it seems he was kinda crazy in a sinisterly narcissistic way. But if I wanted to work–and that was my only goal back then, to get back to work–I had no choice at that time but to see him because I was going through voc rehab.

            And while it’s not my style to wish ill on anyone, I can’t help but to take comfort in the phrase, “Karma’s a bitch.” That’s part of the drain with all this, creates all of this inner conflict. We try to be nice, but some people make that impossible, if we are to not be doormats (or vampire food!). I spoke my truth before ditching him but the consequences of his irresponsible words and insidious actions were far-reaching. I’m not sure they realize the harm they do with these projections. They sabotage quality of life, and in some cases, life itself. And yes, high earners for all this, to boot. It’s why we’ve been calling in change, this is a perfect example of “what is wrong with this picture?”

            “The “mental health” professions, at least at this time in our history, are seeming to be pretty much the opposite of enlightened.”

            I think that’s because there is no education for understanding our humanity other than life and no training for how to relate to others outside of experience. It is the *opposite* of academic and speculative. Life is what we experience as “real.”

            YES on abolition of course. I used to lean more toward reforming and improving things, but after all these years of processing this and learning of others’ experiences on here, and also from these dialogues and how I’ve experienced them, I simply cannot see reform as realistic or feasable at this point, from where I sit. Although how it will all end/transform is anyone’s guess and remains to be seen. Every system is being tested to the limit at this point, they are bursting at the seams.

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  8. Yeah, I am really struggling with this piece because, frankly, I think it is disingenuous. Hiding behind systems does not make someone any less responsible for harm caused. And complacency amidst genocide is something quite different from complacency itself. I’m a realist too, and I walked away from being a therapist in 1980 when I understood the reality of our “behavioral healthcare system”. So let’s be real then, Mr. Nikkel. First of all, our system does not exist to help people, it exists solely for the purpose of aiding the state in getting rid of people. Getting inconvenient people out of sight, and out of the way. There are very simple remedies, by the way, but most professionals don’t want to hear them, and the notion that it’s up to the harmed to create reform is irresponsible to say the least. Simple remedy #1. Stop reporting people for suicidal ideation, and even plans. No one can prove they said it, and no one can prove they didn’t. It should never be a crime to question the meaning of life, and considering the lethal effect of “treatments”, how can anyone justify the harm that comes from this reporting? #2. Bill for generalized anxiety, and nothing else. At least you will be honest, and no one is going to lose their children in a custody fight because of the label you gave someone after meeting them for the first time. Which isn’t valid anyway, and here at MIA we all know that. Stop diagnosing. #3. DO NOT testify as an expert in court about someone’s “mental illness”. It’s a violation of your duty not to harm. #4. Remove yourself from any involvement in any coercion. Quit your job if you have to. #5. Stop pretending that people have real lawyers representing them in commitment hearings. The have public pretenders. When you pretend that this is due process, you are involved in the coercion. #6. Stop pretending that creating a work force of underpaid slaves is “peer support”. #7. Do not call drugs which treat no medical condition “medication”. #8. Don’t rely on “survivors” to reform your profession. Make yourself known to local media sources, and make yourself available to respond as an “expert” to media misinformation. It’s NOT the job of survivors, it’s the responsibility of people who have made a living in this field. Seriously. #9. Reach out the people you have harmed through “treatment”, and apologize. Yes, you are responsible, and there is no time limit. Those people remember you well, and they are living with it. You owe them. #10. Accept that we are a country founded on individual liberties, and that if you cannot protect the rights of others while doing your job, then your job is not consistent with our shared values. Act with Integrity. Boycott. Granted #10 is a bit redundant, but I’m here to make a point. The idea that survivors like me have spent years as full time activists while the “system” provides income and-yes complacency to others is a clear road map. That road map places the responsibility for change squarely on the shoulders of those who have made their living from the suffering of others.

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      • Oldhead, Let’s be real. That isn’t going to happen, it is an essential function of the state, which has no oversight, and it is effective for it’s own purposes (getting inconvenient people out of the way). Santa Claus is not coming to abolish Psychiatry. I think this fight needs to be clearly translated into numbers much like the death penalty. If people understood what we are all paying for……….

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        • No you’re being too pessimistic. Castles built on sand melt to the sea, eventually. (Jimi Hendrix)

          Maybe you’re interpreting “abolition” as a sweeping decree by the state, which is not what most AP people favor, or at least consider a realistic goal. Abolition also refers to a general rejection of a belief or practice by the populace to the extent it is rendered insignificant. Some would say “like astrology,” though I sense that astrology is actually more legitimate than psychiatry.

          I wouldn’t say psychiatry is a “function” of the state, it’s more of a tool to keep unhappy campers in line, i.e. a prop for the state. It’s working pretty well in terms of its goal, and is not “broken” as some say.

          it’s important to expose the cost of psychiatry, however exposing the cost of the military never did much to stop it. But we’re not “waiting for Santa,” don’t know where you got that, we’re looking for some effective and scientific organizing.

          I think for the future the priority for all young lawyers involved in this should be learning to shred the legitimacy of psychiatry per se in court based on pure logic (legal and otherwise), and to replace lawyering based on getting the “best deal” (e.g. “no involuntary commitment and agrees to consume neurotoxins as directed”).

          But I pointed out to some folks elsewhere that they should study your posts as an example of how to achieve a consensus.

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          • Oldhead, Please forgive my rude Santa comment, and I defer to you on some very precise semantic points. I’m with you all the way about educating lawyers, I feel like this is really central to the changes we seek, I’m someone who believes that the legal profession is driving the coercion, and these people really are educable. I recently learned that one of my nephews from my first marriage is an attorney running for Justice of The Peace, and I made a donation to his campaign. When he wrote to thank me (and this really is how politics works), I dove into PsychRights territory……..and after shocking the hell out of him with actual numbers, he became a believer. I am not a pessimist. Far from it. And I really appreciate being of some use, when and where I can.

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          • @Nancy — Wondering how you feel about demanding that psychiatric incarceration be seen by the courts as depriving someone of their liberty, and that Miranda rights be applied when it comes to psychiatric interrogations.

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          • I know the US and Australian systems are different, and I look forward to hearing Nancys’ reply.

            Thing about the reading of Miranda rights here is that it would be pointless telling someone they have the right to silence, they don’t and I have seen people ‘treated’ which would constitute torture if they did not have the status of “patient”.

            The right to an attorney? I would not consider someone who tells you they are acting in your interests and then ignores your instructions and does whatever they are told by State representatives [or your self appointed ‘carer’ whose interests might conflict with yours] (probably as a result of threats) as an attorney. See Nicola Gobbo who acted as a police informer whilst claiming to be an attorney. It’s standard operating procedure here for lawyers to throw ‘mental patients’ under a bus after they have found out what evidence they have, and which witnesses need to be threatened. Lawyers? they’re sycophants, and I hope they try and sue me because I’ve the best defense, the truth.

            Consider my situation, ‘spiked’ with benzos I am ‘verballed’ up by a Community Nurse and then handed over to police for interrogation without being informed I was under the influence of a stupefying drug, administered without my knowledge. I requested that I be allowed to speak to a lawyer and was denied that right. I requested that I be allowed to speak to my daughter and was denied that right. They knew I had been ‘spiked’ and anyone who would act in my interests might have actually helped me. And they didn’t want that. Like rapists they were wanting me vulnerable and alone. Weapons drawn and no way they were allowing me any of my rights.

            The only option I had was to refuse to cooperate and be shot. In fact, if it wasn’t for the Community Nurse lying to police and stating that I was his “patient” they should have thrown him out of my home as a trespasser. Because the first words out of my mouth after being dragged out of my bed by police to his presence was “get out of my home” (X 2). I guess having thugs with guns helping him with his home invasions means he wins every time. He was in truth trespassing, though the police have a good faith defense (unless they were in on the conspiring)

            Now consider I was NOT a ‘patient’ at this point, even if one considers the ‘referral’ by the Community Nurse lawful (which it wasn’t). So even citizens in my State do not have any rights when you are drugged and jumped in your bed for not wishing to speak to a psychologist.

            Knowing I would exercise my right to remain silent (which I guess was listed as a delusion because we don’t have one. Dang Americans making Australians think we have rights) I was ‘spiked’ with benzos and then police were used to induce an “acute stress reaction” to force me to talk.

            Rights? When did I loose them? When two people got together the night before and planned to spike me and plant a knife for police to find when they were called and lied to about me being a ‘mental patient’? Then with that police referral the people at the hospital could be deceived by the Community Nurse into the false belief that he had obtained a police referral and had completed an assessment and filed a Form 1 referral for an examination by a psychiatrist?

            And of course it got out of hand. Spiking peoples drinks, planting knives on them and hoping police don’t shoot then because all you want to do is have them kidnapped and examined by a psychiatrist to force them into changing their minds. That’s what psychiatrists do right? Someone doesn’t think like you, they’re ill and need to be tortured until they change their mind? And that justifies any means to the end you desire, well at least according to the Chief Psychiatrist and the Minister who have provided their full and unconditional support to these acts, in writing..

            Let me just add that my refusal to answer the questions being asked about ‘substance abuse’ when I was interrogated by the Community Nurse was used as a justification for detaining me on the Form 1. The refusal to answer a question is not grounds for detaining anyone. And to be honest this Community Nurse was more aware of my drug use than I was. he knew I had been ‘spiked’ I didn’t. It was when he began asking questions about illegal drugs that I pointed to the police either side of me and said “really? I would need to speak to a lawyer before answering that” and so “refused to answer re substance abuse” goes down on the Form. Creates suspicion in the reader, but conveys zero information other than I refused to answer a question which one would assume was my right. Not so with vicious mental health kidnappers and torturers.

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          • Community Nurse likes his ‘clients’ like he likes his women, drugged without their knowledge with date rape drugs, pinned down by thugs with weapons, and denied any right to consent.

            Your a disgrace, and the people who have provided you support should be exposed. named and shamed. Though unfortunately you managed to have police assist you in your crimes, and we all know what happens when it is them doing the wrong thing. Hence the reason they will not accept the proof of the original crimes, OR the attempt to murder me in the Emergency Dept as a result of my complaint. The value of human life, zero. The value of corrupt public officers who are handing people over to police to be tortured, and then doing cover ups using the Mental Health Act? Priceless.

            The Convention does cover these types of situations in that the Community Nurse can not “acquiesce” his duty to allow what is torture. Of course the reason our Attorney General can not tell me what is the procedure for reporting torture is that there isn’t one, other than refoulment (hotshots in the ED).

            I did send a copy of the Convention against the use of Torture to a politician and explain to him the large number of breaches and rather than him say “we don’t have a copy of it” (like police and the Criminal Code) could he please tear it up on the steps of Parliament because it is creating false beliefs that the community is protected from torture, when they’re not. Ask me and I will show you how easy it really is.

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        • You mean the people who actually want the “mentally ill” to lead decent.lives and not die prematurely? I agree Nancy.

          Take the message to those who want fewer people forced into disability and in asylums. Not swelling the ranks of the “SMI” so at least a third of the population is on a cocktail of poly pharma. Like the ancient Roman slave population. Or bringing back the Victorian asylums.

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          • Bringing back old Victorian “lunatic” asylums seems to be the ultimate wet dream for psychiatrists I noticed. My guess is they’ll be able to collect more revenue for the millions they hope to cram in there after gas lighting them with SSRIs to make them hallucinate so they can label them “bipolar.”

            I believe there is a Batman villain who runs an asylum where he puts his victims after driving them hopelessly insane with toxic nerve gas. Psychiatry is the only medical field that so closely resembles a comic book.

            Dr Arkham: But Batman, they were already severely mentally ill. My toxic nerve gas just unmasked the symptoms

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    • Great comment Nancy.
      There is just so much wrong with psychiatry it would be best to have it scrapped entirely. Unfortunately the public has been duped into thinking psychiatry is about “helping” people when nothing could be further from the truth. Most psychiatrists are narcissistic and self-serving and will fight to the bitter end to retain their power, control and big pay checks.

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      • Hi Rosalee, I really don’t think that’s true. Most psychiatrists are overworked and see themselves as victims. Many I know have explained to me that they had no idea what they were getting into until it was too late. They have school loans up the wazoo, and very few options. I feel for many of them.

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          • One might easily feel overwhelmed and overworked if one’s efforts were constantly unsuccessful or damaging to one’s clients. I am sure many psychiatrists recognize on some level that they are not being helpful or are being destructive, and the weight of that must indeed be heavy. The denial of contradictory data is needed to maintain some semblance of being a “good person,” and few seem to have the moral courage or integrity to simply admit what is going on. Instead most seem to be avoiding their own pain and guilt by focusing on convincing others of the “rightness” of their approach or the supposed lack of any “alternatives” and blame insurance companies or short sessions or “the disease” or the client or anyone else except for the processes they are engaging in that are so obviously failing. I MIGHT feel sorry for those who recognize this, but only once they decide they can’t live with themselves doing it any longer and stop.

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          • We had 40% of psychiatrists leave the public system when they saw what was being passed as our ‘new’ Mental Health Act. I would love to have been at their ‘crisis’ meeting because I’m certain they knew what it was the government wanted them to do for them, and call it medicine.

            In the end we had to resort to the Pinkertons Psychiatric Agency for staff who ‘had the stomach for it’.

            Cover ups are a Fine Art degree here if you want to be in government. And part of that means having available a system that allows the abuse of human and civil rights.

            I knew one of the psychiatrists who ‘walked away’ and while he never stated openly his position, I got the impression there were things he simply wouldn’t do against a persons will (eg large voltages of electricity to teenagers heads).

            Private practice probably the only place for those without the stomach for it to go. And of course we did end up with a ‘doctor’ treating 200 plus patients who wasn’t actually a psychiatrist. Doesn’t matter, he looks good in a white coat and knows how to throw the switch for the juice lol.

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        • I won’t say every psychiatrist is arrogant and abuse their power but in my experience (and from what I have read of many others on this site) that was MOST definitely the case. And when I tried to get some resolution the “expert” psychiatrist who was consulted on the matter dismissed the evidence and whitewashed all the facts & truth. It was a total cover up and further abuse of power in order to maintain the psychiatric façade of utter righteousness and superiority.

          Further if they “had no idea what they were getting into” they most certainly have the choice to move in a different direction. You are either on the side of the oppressed or on the side of the oppressor – you can’t be neutral.

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          • Well, we are all oppressed, it’s a matter of degree, and takes place at different levels. Polluters often breathe the same air as us. But I’m nitpicking. Clearly someone who remains in a field they know is destructive is hardly a person to help others make life decisions or show them how to be in control of their own existence.

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          • The closer you are to exposing them, the more they dig their heels in. They are all complacent and chickenshits. Within “medicine”, a true law exists, all on it’s own. It is about protecting “one’s own”, NOTHING to do with integrity.
            Nothing “scientific” going on. It’s highly personal. Highly emotional and based on fear.
            It’s a shame that the state sanctions this kind of internal legal system.

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        • “Many I know have explained to me that they had no idea what they were getting into until it was too late.”

          NO I’m sorry that is not true at all. Spend one week in a psych ward and YOU KNOW !!! Their training is years and they know very well what they are doing.

          Right now a hell of a lot of people who were middle class are about to find out about psychiatry and there will – in the coming years- be an outcry when these people experience akathisia/drug toxicity. First major shock to their trust in the ‘health system’. They have the ability to understand it faster, question the psychiatrist, get kicked in the teeth and forced drugged – second major shock. They will learn to shut up in the hell hole and agree to the drugs, and then get the hell out. Many will make formal complaints and get know where – third shock. Then end up in places like this, discover Peter Breggin and co and wonder what the hell they can do. Well it will be the numbers that make the difference. Psychiatry is going down and we’re not going to help them out of it.

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          • And so it begins as Auntie Psychiatry and I have predicted:


            “Durch Klage gegen Corona-Regeln bekannt – Anwältin in Psychiatrie eingewiesen”

            Known for lawsuit against Corona rules – lawyer sectioned by psychiatry

            “Die Anwältin Beate Bahner ist in die Psychiatrie eingewiesen worden. Das bestätigte ein Sprecher des zuständigen Polizeipräsidiums Mannheim WELT. Bahner sei am Sonntag in einer polizeilichen Maßnahme in einer Klinik vorgestellt und dort von einem Arzt begutachtet worden, sagte Norbert Schätzle vom Polizeipräsidium Mannheim.”

            The lawyer Beate Bahner has been sectioned by psychiatry. This was confirmed by a spokesman for the responsible police headquarters Mannheim WELT. Bahner was abducted in a police operation at a clinic on Sunday and examined by a doctor there, said Norbert Schätzle of the Mannheim Police Department.

            “Die Anwältin aus Heidelberg hält die Corona-Regeln für überzogen und plädiert offensiv für deren Aufhebung. Ihrer Meinung nach sind durch diese Maßnahmen „der Erhalt des Rechtsstaats, die Bewahrung der Grund- und Menschenrechte und der Erhalt der freiheitlich-demokratischen Grundordnung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland“ gefährdet. Sie argumentiert, dass die Infektion für 95 Prozent der Bevölkerung harmlos verlaufe. „Ich bin wirklich entsetzt und will mir nicht vorwerfen müssen, als Rechtsanwältin nicht gehandelt und den Rechtsstaat nicht mit allen mir zur Verfügung stehenden Mitteln verteidigt zu haben!“, schrieb sie in einem Statement.”

            The lawyer from Heidelberg considers the Corona rules to be excessive and makes an aggressive plea for their repeal. In their opinion, these measures are “endangering the preservation of the rule of law, the preservation of fundamental and human rights and the preservation of the fundamental liberal-democratic order of the Federal Republic of Germany”. She argues that the infection is harmless to 95 percent of the population. “I am truly appalled and do not want to have to accuse myself of not acting as a lawyer and of not defending the rule of law with all the means at my disposal!” she wrote in a statement.

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        • That still doesn’t excuse condemning trusting patients to a slow horrible death. And they make out like bandits.

          Like my friend’s psychiatrist who partied on a Caribbean cruise after basically sentencing her to death at age 29. Dr. C seemed perfectly happy with zero regrets when she came back and found Karen dead. Plenty new cash cows where she came from.

          I realized then they don’t care if we die. Literally. As long as we die “with our rights off” they’re chill with us dropping like flies.

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        • I believe it’s true that they had no clue what they were getting into. Well they kind of did, although they were young enough to think it was like high school, where that other kid is a “nutcase”, while the “nutcase” observer is walking around, obsessing how everyone but them is a nutcase.
          Then after 8 years of school and some rather obvious abuse towards themselves first in the form of hierarchy and control/demands to conform, and their shame of being kicked out and excluded, to have to ditch their original ideals, well it’s too much.
          It’s about “honor” and so they keep going. They need quota. They HAVE to hand out labels, there is no choice. You fail as a “doctor”, if you do not “diagnose”, and you fail family and friends if you drop the religion.
          “honor”, yet they feel like imposters, are imposters by association.
          So no, it’s not okay to ride the vulnerable like some sex objects. To get off on being accepted in the “group mentality”.
          Not one of their “subjects” needs a tag, a tattoo, or a star. The giver of such things is absolutely not innocent of the repercussions, and after 8 years in school, you are not the innocent pup you claim to be.
          Thing is, they hurt themselves and their future generations. No one is immune to the results.
          And if any psychiatrist “realizes” what he practices is not “kosher”, he can step forward. Until then, they are the same in my book.
          We don’t need “soft psychiatry”

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        • I feel for psychiatrists with consciences. I feel for their “patients” more though. Psychiatrists can always go rogue or choose a new specialty or become technical writers. They choose to stay in the field. No one court orders them to practice against their will.

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        • Nancy,
          “Most psychiatrists are overworked and see themselves as victims. Many I know have explained to me that they had no idea what they were getting into until it was too late.”

          they are victims, but of their own doing, or their forefathers, their genetics? Mankind’s genetics? Who knows.
          Whatever it may be, it’s complicated and convoluted, as per their realization and can’t back out?
          So they are mired in this, and it is too late? That seems rather a hopeless state for them to be in.
          I also wonder why they would say or admit this to you, yet not their clients? If it is true enough to admit to you, it must be true enough to say to anyone, even the “defective” clients.
          Or are all their clients good enough to keep the lie going? Are their clients stupid? To be used in their sham? It is after all the sham and not the client that keeps it alive, yet you cannot have one without the other.

          I find it highly exposing that they would admit their feelings of being mired into a situation, or feel victimized, to one and not another.
          Perhaps when a client confides in a shrink that he feels victimized or mired in, the shrink could share his own feelings, then we could finally normalise the normality of “feelings” and “thinking”.
          We could idly chat about the complexity of being human, and the simplicity of being human

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    • Thank you Nancy so much for a clear cut, precise, to the point piece.
      This should be a headliner on MIA.
      It is definitely a short piece of writing, yet covers more than most books,
      and research papers of “critical psychiatry”.

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    • I know my government is finding some rather creative uses for it oldhead. Being able to snatch anyone who has evidence/proof of public sector corruption from their beds and having ‘unintended negative outcomes’ with them after subjecting them to what would be ‘torture’ (unless of course you bring them under the loophole of “inherent in or incidental to lawful sanction”) is working really well for the criminals posing as doctors and ‘good’ people.

      In fact give me a problem that may be faced by a politician and I can show how to resolve it with ease using this very system. ‘Spike’ the problem and plant a knife on them for police and you have your referral (should anyone wish to look it all gives the appearance of lawfulness). Have police do the kidnapping for you and drop the target at a hospital with a ‘friendly’ doctor who is beholding you. Load up a hot shot and woops …….. not a soul will look, and in fact police will actually retrieve any proof that is being held by any member of the public, and threaten witnesses. (whats that Superintendent? Police didn’t receive a complaint from witnesses threatened by police so nothing to see here? Gee, how surprising)

      I really did get why Snowden left the US despite Holders claim that they promised not to torture him. Biden threatening governments that may have provided asylum. When your government IS the criminals what can you do? Mind you, there was someone waiting, and if you could have seen the face on this guy (Dr “i’m the Boss around here”) when they interrupted him in the middle of doing a ‘knock’ for the State, to conceal their use of known torture methods and kidnapping lol.

      Not that anyone believed me coz the police retrieved the documents right Minister? Wait, you ……. he what? Turned up in a Police Station with the proof? So what’d y’all do? A referral to Mental Health Services? Shows how much of a knee jerk reaction our police have to crimes by the State, immediate referral to Mental Health for ‘treatment’. Consider carefully what I am saying here. Do not accept any evidence and make immediate referral to mental health services for ‘assessment’ and ‘treatment’.

      Its not about medicine, though I must say I was surprised at how easily one could conceal torture, kidnapping, maiming and killing and call it ‘medicine’. A simple change of status post hoc from citizen to “mental patient” and like magic, its carte blanche and you can even have police assist you in your brutality, I mean ‘healing’.

      And in the end all I did was give the criminals in the Public Service time to get together and conspire to pervert the course of justice. Can’t prove it because they are concealing the truth from the people who vote for them, because they wouldn’t vote for them if they knew the truth.

      Good value for the cost of a little morphine, some benzos and anti psychotic cocktails

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      • Boy, our monitors are probably getting themselves educated despite themselves on this thread. Love your prose though. And Nancy’s post should be studied in terms of how to articulate issues and demands in a way that draws consensus from almost everyone in the conversation.

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        • “Nancy’s post should be studied in terms of how to articulate issues and demands in a way that draws consensus from almost everyone in the conversation.”

          I am rereading her comment and will again. I hope she writes a blog with that comment central, although it is it’s own blog. Precise. I hope she reposts that on many sites. Concise and clear.

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    • Oldhead, when compared with psychiatry, a heaping, stinking pile of excrement is like a treasure chest filled with gold, silver, diamonds, rubies, emeralds and other precious stones and metals. Furthermore, a rotting mound of dung is useful as manure to fertilize a garden. Psychiatry, on the other hand, not only has less inherent value than an accumulation of waste matter, it actually removes value from the universe. It is perhaps more like a black hole that sucks the light and life away from stars and planets. Eventually it will cave in, implode, and die. In the meantime, however, we can help the process along by refusing to pretend that psychiatry is some kind of bright and shining sun of warmth, light, and healing, and that so-called “mental illness” is some sort of law of physics by which all things must abide. As you have done, we can continue to help the process along by pointing out that the attempt to reform or criticize psychiatry is about as useful as the attempt to persuade people that a black hole might be a good vacation spot.

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  9. Dear Steve,
    Thank you for your administrative support to try and make things better in as you said,
    a “dysfunctional” system. What is missing for me in what you said is my understanding that a rise in consciousness is what will lead the reform.

    I completely understand how the energy of anger really muddies the profound truth of the messenger. And I am hoping that the revolutionaries, healers, visionaries and prophets of this age will come forward with more creative energy to lead people out of what I feel is unproductive suffering. And this is my hope for us in these times. Thanks Diana.

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  10. If there is anything that is a clear goal of most who write here and post comments, it is to get rid of psychiatry as we know it. It is troubling to me to find people who think that a Mental Health System needs psychiatrists. It does not!
    Our basic suggestion for “reforming” the current mental health system, then, is: Ban psychiatry from practicing in it!
    I think of anyone who argues against this as either poorly-informed or a psychiatric sympathizer.
    It is really hard to tell the difference sometimes, but we tend to assume that everyone (I think particularly of lawmakers) has the same data that we have, and they don’t. Psychiatry as it re-imagined itself during the last 150 years or so has become a criminal operation, and it should be banned from practice for the same reasons that any criminal operation would be pushed out of systems or groups that were trying to be honest and do good. That government (in particular) has continued to embrace psychiatry only serves to open the door to the accusation (well-founded perhaps) that government is not necessarily trying to be honest or good!
    With the criminals out of the picture, there might still be some room for “reform.”
    Of course, there are those who think that the whole concept of “mental health” is just a con game aimed at cheating people out of their inherent right to be different. I don’t go that far, because that’s not what I see around me.
    There are others who would insist that the problem of mental health is essentially not a secular problem, as it inevitably involves the spirit. But I see no church willing to step forward to fill this need.
    So I conclude that, while we will continue to have a “mental health” system, it will basically be a lie until it:
    1) Gets rid of psychiatry and current psychiatric practices.
    2) Shows that it can actually make people “mentally well,” which is to say happy and competent.

    I see no reason to beat around the bush on the subject of psychiatry. It has more than amply condemned itself. Beyond that, what we do with our Mental Health System depends mostly on how happy, healthy, able and free we really want to be.

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    • “It is really hard to tell the difference sometimes, but we tend to assume that everyone (I think particularly of lawmakers) has the same data that we have, and they don’t. ” (l_e_cox

      What is presented to the world/lawyers/politicians are images. Images of weird behaviour, of distress and THAT is what psychiatry hides behind.
      They hide behind the thing the public has perceived as strange. Strange, weird, distressed , different, all exist in our perceptions.

      The DIRTY is. Psychiatry was I believe curious. Long ago. We stared at the elephant man, and he forever knows he is “different”. We started to understand that to stare, to even curiously observe was not okay. To display him, to call him “elephant man” was NOT okay. And now it is not okay on a political level.
      Psychiatry actually made a business out of that which people do not understand.

      They pretend to know and call something, a behaviour, an “illness”. The public gobbles this up, but pays absolutely NO attention to how this became to be thought of as “illness”. No attention to force, No attention to an “illness” being abused, and that the abuse is sanctioned. Once it is sanctioned, anything goes, because “psychiatry” “explains” to anyone listening that it is a “good” thing they are doing.
      They also explain the “needed” aspects.

      Most people that have powers to do something about it, simply won’t because it’s not front and center to them. It’s not personal to them
      ….the numbers are all wrong. The balance of whom it’s not affecting at the moment, vs the numbers that is affected.

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      • I hear you Sam Plover, but I did a presentation at the U. of Alaska (Human Services) and was very excited by the response. I want to do more of these. I start with getting personal because the stats allow that every person in any room is five degrees from someone on a drug cocktail, so that’s a great place to start, by getting everyone to realize they are involved, their families are involved, their friends etc. I start with the reality of withdrawal, the lack of professional training, the lack of information, the amazing people out there dealing with it (Like Laura Delano, Alto Strata, Nicole Lamberson, too many to name, really) and the resources they have created. It gets real fast. Then I give them the bad news; we have a 5% full recovery rate in the US. We are spitting in the wind, and people get it. And Open Dialogue in Finland has 80% over decades. When this sinks in, the question becomes, “Why?”, so we have to examine who benefits, and that becomes fairly obvious. I’m not easy on my audience because personal responsibility and integrity are hard charges. We have the numbers that matter, they are the numbers of failure. The American public understands money being wasted, and they understand being interfered with, and these are effective places to make a dent in public opinion.

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    • l-e-cox, You are spot on, the fact is that real community mental health does not require psychiatrists (and psychologists), and this is the essential truth. “Experts” are counterproductive. I moved to Alaska in 2010 because I wanted to work with PsychRights, but also to volunteer at Soteria. Many people laud my husband, Jim Gottstein, for his legal challenges (and for leaking The Zyprexa Papers to the NYTimes) but people know him in Alaska for none of those things; Jim founded two mental health agencies in Anchorage, one of them was Soteria Alaska. People recover. People recover unless you put up a million roadblocks, and that’s exactly what we do.

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  11. Oldhead, when compared with psychiatry, a heaping, stinking pile of excrement is like a treasure chest filled with gold, silver, diamonds, rubies, emeralds and other precious stones and metals. Furthermore, a rotting mound of dung is useful as manure to fertilize a garden. Psychiatry, on the other hand, not only has less inherent value than an accumulation of waste matter, it actually removes value from the universe. It is perhaps more like a black hole that sucks the light and life away from stars and planets. Eventually it will cave in, implode, and die. In the meantime, however, we can help the process along by refusing to pretend that psychiatry is some kind of bright and shining sun of warmth, light, and healing, and that so-called “mental illness” is some sort of law of physics by which all things must abide. As you have done, we can continue to help the process along by pointing out that the attempt to reform or criticize psychiatry is about as useful as the attempt to persuade people that a black hole might be a good vacation spot.

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  12. I’m grateful for Dr Breggin and other psychiatrists who decided to put patients’ well-being (and public health) first rather engage in harmful practices based on not having any idea what they were getting into when they went to med school, and having student loans to pay. We all make our choices.

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  13. I am in complete agreement with Nikkel. And, I would give anything to be able to have the assistance of good-human-being Psychologist, or psychiatrist, and I’m just run-of-the-mill anxious. Now, if NAMI could be brought down…something might change, but, it, too, will remain, as there is, as with poverty, “underclasses,” ignorance, etc., too much invested in keeping these systems..Nikkel must continue to provide perspective, without apology for doing so.

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  14. Robert Nikkel if you want to help people you could see yourself as a secret infiltrator into the System. Then dedicate yourself to using your influence by kissing up and bribing the right people to save human beings who will otherwise be killed.

    Remember Oskar Schindler from Schindler’s List? 😉

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  15. I think change is possible, though it will be a long and difficult process.

    In the 1950s or 60s (when homosexuality was a crime), if you had said that same-sex marriage would be legal a half-century later you would have been laughed out of the room!

    Real, radical, and substantial change IS possible!!

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    • I think they were ‘treating’ homosexuality with chemical castration and ECTs until the 1970s actually Dan. In Tasmania it wasn’t decriminalised until the late 1990s I think. And of course poofter bashings by police were considered funny. Not so much now they’re in Parliament as politicians.

      have a listen to Lou Reeds Kill your Sons

      Laughed out of the room? They’d have dragged you out of the room and thrown you over a cliff for even suggesting it here.

      True real change is possible but the train is heading in the wrong direction and it’s going to take a while to turn it without a derailment unfortunately. Me personally, i’d blow the bridge and watch the train plummet, coz I prefer to fly but ….. lol

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    • Lots of people died for that “right,” Dan, it didn’t come solely from “working within the system.” Though it always befuddles me why receiving recognition from a corrupt system is seen as a great accomplishment. If I were to get married (not on the agenda) I wouldn’t ask the state for its bloodstained permission or approval.

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  16. “… ‘treating’ homosexuality with chemical castration and ECTs until the 1970s actually Dan. In Tasmania it wasn’t decriminalised until the late 1990s I think.”

    Ohhh, but that was “then”. Way back, like 50 years ago and we’ve come a LONG way. We now have “scientific” evidence.
    I’m guessing psychiatry waits to see what is politically incorrect, and stops doing that thing. Possibly there was a gay psychiatrist.

    They might mumble something about “sexual preference” not being a disorder, yadayadda,
    But they refuse to address the fact that it was actually “treated” by THEM. Not only was it despised and a big nono on a social level, but they participated by hurting the victims.

    Now they just wait, while the politicians keep sanctioning their abuses, until the next “disorder” bites the dust.

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    • I’m well aware of the crimes committed by Psychiatry against LGBTQ people. There is a lack of accountability for ALL medical offenses, from Eugenics all the way up to the current Opioid Crisis. But I believe that will change and that Doctors will finally be removed from their pedestal. (Just as teachers, clergy, politicians, etc. have been. Medical Doctors are about the only ones left up there.)

      The point of my original post was that radical change is possible. Despite the lack of accountability for the past, an LGBTQ person today is living in a VASTLY different world than before. We also should not be afraid to dream of the impossible!

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    • https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/30/world/australia/australia-gay-men-killed-suicides-sydney.html

      I’d even question whether this was just ‘gangs’. Benefit of the doubt I guess. The rumours about it being a gang of blue shirt wearing males initiating new recruits is just that, rumours.

      “We can now see that predators were attacking gay men,” said Ted Pickering, who was the police minister for New South Wales in the late 1980s. “And they were doing it with the almost-certain knowledge that the police would not have gone after them. That was the police culture of the day.”

      Wow, can see it now? I’d say it was seen back then but ….. thats just lil ol skeptic me. And these days? The assaults and unintended negative outcomes being done by mental health services? Being done with certain knowledge that police will not under any circumstances go after them? That is the police culture of NOW.

      This of course should give us hope. That some day they will stop assisting mental health services with their assaults and human rights abuses, and as a result of being first hand witnesses might be able to do their duty under the law, rather than be involved in the perversion of the very laws they are being paid to enforce. Calling someone ‘mental patient’ is no reason to see them as anything less than human.

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  17. To all potential accusations of being “anti medicine” or “anti science” I say, “No. I’m pro accountability.”

    It’s not science or medicine we fight against but corruption, lies, and contempt for human rights found in the practitioners.

    History contains many famous serial killers who practiced medicine with a license.

    If I wanted to have a daycare investigated because it looked like it was run by predators would that make me anti-childcare? Give me a break.

    Doctors lie too. You can be a “good” doctor in that you’re smart and knowledgeable with a state license. and still be a lousy human being.

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  18. I’ve read all the comments on my blog and want to respond with some thoughts.

    The first thing I will say is that in over 50 years in the field, I see the damage caused by psychiatry. I’m not blind to that. And it’s been led and perpetuated by many, probably most, psychiatrists in greater or lesser ways. I do not however stereotype all of them as doing great damage. I’ve known many who are as critical of the damage that their profession has done as anyone and trying in their own ways to fix things.

    One thing I believe is a major omission in all of our discussions and debates so far is that of prescribers other than psychiatrists. I am one who has been severely damaged though I’ve chosen to not share it around that much. I suffer from permanent seizures as a result of long-term psychiatric drugs prescribed by my primary care physician. So I think we should add to that crowd of damage-doers the primary care MDs who prescribe 60-70% of the antidepressants in the US. I think they do it for several reasons–they don’t know what else to do, they have very limited access to outpatient counseling, and they’ve bought the dangerous myth of the chemical imbalance.

    What my primary care doctor was doing was just what she was trained to do and what she might have read in the professional literature–or the newspaper? Should she and other primary care doctors do better? Of course but it won’t happen unless we find better ways to get through to them. For that purpose, I have started communicating these concerns to the one medical organization composed of about 22,000 primary care physicians which has broken with the AMA over the issue of whether a medical organization should prioritize guild interests over patient interests. This group takes the position of focusing advocacy on what’s best for patient health.

    Maybe all of the anger expressed at me is entirely appropriate, maybe as one person says, I’m being disingenuous. But I feel like I’m doing what I can and have a few things to share about a number of other comments that have been made.

    One of the other commenters told me to infiltrate the system if I’m serious about being critical of it. I believe I am in fact doing a version of it and have been for at least the last 40 years–is it sweeping enough? I don’t know the answer. But I’ll explain what I mean.

    In my state mental health and addictions director role I did things to reduce the damage brought about by the mental health system–although one thing I want to clarify I wrote in the blog that it was my desire to “reduce” the damaged caused by the public mental health system. I accept that while one phase of system reform is certainly to reduce abuse and damage, that reality has not been my ultimate goal. Anyone who knows me knows my value system.

    I feel a need now to share some of my work infiltrating the system as a state mental health (and addictions) director. I stopped ALL children and adolescents from being admitted to the state hospital. We closed the children and adolescent units and the young kids and adolescents are now in community settings of various kinds. A dozen years later, I continue to be in touch with the programs to educate the psychiatrists about the damage of the drugs and to start the process of “de-prescribing” for these young people.

    As a commissioner, I funded peer support programs, some of which are now national and even
    international in nature–the meetings are in many state and also the UK, Germany, and more recently in Russia. I was asked to chair one of those organization’s board last fall. Peers in the Peer Services Recovery Department at Oregon State Hospital (which I established 15 years ago as the Peer Bridgers Program) asked me to help clarify their mission in an extremely challenging environment. I’ve also been consulting and supporting the work of people in New Zealand who are running peer support groups for people who want to get off psychiatric drugs.

    On a very concrete level my state budget funded services and supports to get people back to work and to continue their education if they wanted so they could resume lives after being in
    state hospitals. I funded affordable housing all over the state (as in fact, most other mental health commissioners have). These kinds of supports get at the critical issues of helping people out of poverty. One of the reasons for their slipping into poverty is the effect of psych drugs. I agree with Joanna Moncrieff that these are not side effects. They ARE the effects of the drugs.

    Currently as most of you know I’ve been directing the Mad in America Continuing Education project with webinars on the lies of antidepressants, the ineffectiveness and risks of all psychiatric drugs, the dangers of these drugs to pregnant women, how to work with de-prescribing for kids and about 20 webinars on withdrawal from the drugs. We have one course entirely focused on providing real informed consent rather than the bullshit that gets by in the world of psychiatry in virtually every outpatient and inpatient mental health program. That course started and ended with people with the lived experience of informed consent–and the almost universal lack of it. One huge step in handcuffing the role of psychiatry would be to get this one tool as a requirement for EVERY prescriber–it would be one of the most powerful levers because if people really knew what the drugs do, they would never take them.

    Am I just perpetuating the evils of the system by doing these things? I realize that many will say I am. I also know of many people who are not commenting on my blog as yet, however, who think doing things to are some of the keys to confronting and neutralizing psychiatry as well as the entire mental health system..

    Now, I want to ask those who say they want to abolish psychiatry (and beyond that the entire mental health “system”) to start creating a strategic plan to do just that. I can think of some steps and would be willing to help in some way. I would be thrilled to see that.

    As I’ve indicated, I think a plan needs to be about far more than psychiatry. It must include an almost complete reform of that part of primary care that is at the heart of so much prescribing. And of course the entire mental health system must be addressed in the plan.

    The would have to include specific proposals, policies, and language for amending laws and regulations around involuntary “treatment.” This is no minor project. It will encounter powerful political resistance in opposition. It will have to propose strategies for turning back those well-funded opponents. These opponents will be politically engaged immediately and will be led by the pharmaceutical corporations, NAMI and their powerful advertising and public relations messaging. It will have to identify which legislators and which administrators in state and local government could be convinced to support the plan. It will have to include how to gain the support of law enforcement and the judicial system. Without that kind of planning and much more, the plan will be ineffective.

    I heard other ideas expressed, One was that mental health professionals should just stop participating in anything that perpetuates the system as it exists now, ie no involvement in involuntary and coercive practices, no prescribing of drugs, no ratting on people who express suicidal feelings, no reporting of anyone who is threatening harm to others. The problem I see this leading to is that all the good people will get fired or just leave. But where does that leave us?

    Let the system “wither away.” I’d like to hear more about that idea though it sounds rather passive and long-term. Maybe it’s part of the option of getting mental health professionals to stop doing things that perpetuate the system as it exists now.

    And then there is the idea of doing all this from a “grassroots’ advocacy. I think that’s what will ultimately get the job done. David Healy’s Rxisk.org is one example of an initiative and I know from talking to him over the past several years that he sees this as possibly the most promising of options. How such a comprehensive grassroots movement could be organized would have to be planned and implemented.

    Maybe doing some version of all 6 ideas– 1) infiltrating the system, 2) putting together a plan, 3) widening the net to include primary care, 4) stopping participation in the system abuses, 5) letting it wither away, and 6) advocating at a grassroots level–would get results.

    Whatever happens, I’d like to avoid doing what people in our world have done for far too long and that is forming a circular firing squad.

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    • Robert Nikkel, if you’re using your infiltration to save lives like Schindler did, God bless you.

      I wish I knew more psychiatrists willing to criticize the damage their profession is doing. Aside from the writers here I don’t know any (personally) willing to question the way things are.

      All mental centers I have gone to insist the only way to not kill yourself or those around you is take your “meds” without fail NO MATTER WHAT. Till you die prematurely despite the horrible way you feel. What I personally have seen and experienced after 26 years in the mental system.

      They made me live in terror of my own mind for the whole time. Their message is what I hear preached on television, social media outlets and just about everywhere to this day.

      But my view and experience are limited. I don’t know every doctor or psychiatrist in the world. I’m glad to know such men and women exist and wish they were more vocal.

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      • I have. but I can’t tell you what, coz then i’d have to ‘treat’ you lol.

        Fair cop Robert.

        I don’t know that your comment emphasises the role of psychiatrists in ‘influencing’ General Practitioners prescribing practices, though i’m sure your aware of that.

        I will also delve more deeply into your suggestions later in your comment about a combination of these things. It sounds very much like the path to victory described by Sun Tzu in his Chapter “the Making of Plans”.

        Glad you at least had the nurries to write to us ‘angry people’ who at times can be a little misunderstood. Though if it does ever come to a fight, it is people who have lost everything and have nothing to loose who will fight the hardest. A good General would know how to use such forces.

        Anyway I’ve got a round of golf with a mental health professional who has a tendency to stray into the bush. So i’ll have to read your comment again after ‘lunch’.

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      • Yes it’s all I’ve done for the past 10 years. My life is dedicated to helping people get on with their lives and also to circumvent the system if they want real and true healing. I operate in a new paradigm which I learned along the way and it was the game changer for me.

        After walking away from the system, I went back as a public speaker to expose the harms and made a film from within the system which was a platform for each of us to speak our truth about discrimination and harm done by these labels, for starters. We’ve all moved on to fulfill our goals and each one of us is doing things to help others, so it’s rippling which is enormously gratifying.

        I was making headway and doing day long workshops for system clients and staff (all in one room together, biggest group was 45 people) which were popular and controversial and got people to consider different perspectives and actually getting people to wake up, but I was eventually called out as a “radical who went against the system” and not allowed to do anymore, so I walked away and regrouped, started my own thing independently, still at it and growing.

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    • Thank you for your transparency and very powerful truth-speaking, Robert. Tons of food for thought here, which I will sit with and process.

      I think the question of such paradigm shifts based on profound social and individual wounding will require what is more than likely beyond our thinking at this time, but it is not beyond our creative capacity. This is one time where the gut and heart will lead, has to be. Social transformation means changing how we experience reality, and that is not a bureaucratic or systemic issue. It is deeply personal and individual. Somehow, it has to work out in the whole, and that will be a matter of copacetic people coming together, first, how energy gathers in a harmonious way. Even 2 people who can work authentically, respectfully, and seamlessly together are more powerful than thousands of people in disarray. That would be a good start, to find that internalized harmony, first, then it can be created outside of ourselves to reflect the inner harmony.

      “Whatever happens, I’d like to avoid doing what people in our world have done for far too long and that is forming a circular firing squad.”

      Well put and great goal. I’ve been working in the capacity of activism and change for years, with regard to the “mental health” industry–which, admittedly, I have disdain for all of it, from my personal experience of it and then adding to that all that I’ve read and heard from others over the years. The big picture is very ugly. I’ve faced many a firing squad not only for my truth-speaking against the system, but even for how I talk about my healing! I’ve been offered alternative realities, people love to change my story to fit their need to stigmatize, judge, and project negatively. Gives you an idea JUST HOW BAD the problem is. Divide and conquer seems to have worked here.

      Fortunately, I got used to it and can now make a choice whether I want to face that or not. When I don’t, I enjoy the peace which my life has become after healing from this mess. That took decades and also, it took its toll, but it’s the contribution to change and transformation I feel best about (and I’ve produced a few other things, as well, over the years to challenge the system), because I rejected the entire field ultimately (I was a clincian as well as client, very dedicated to the field of “psychology”) and found my healing path far and away from that, which is not the same for everyone. Besides, when I have to say “I healed from pts from the mh field,” something is dreadfully wrong, at the very core of this, obviously!

      Our healing paths are unique, based on so many things about us, personally. For me, everything about the field of counseling psychology, including graduate school, was one big crazy abusive competetive mess, and terribly misinformed, at best. I found my path through other means more natural and energetic, healing spirit wounding, issues of betrayal and ambush, as well as physical damage. I did tons of neural shifting and strengthening my nervous system by thinking a bit better of myself than I had been. That was vital, and the opposite of what was happening in the therapist’s office. Somehow, powerlessness and dependence starts to creep into these relationships, especially if one has a label to begin with. It only goes down the rabbit hole from there.

      For me, my healing was deep work which was more an act of living and paying attention to myself, being open, flexible and humble to necessary changes within me, if I wanted to have a good quality of life and attract what I wanted from it.

      In addition, I am part of a group of practicing manifestors, whose intention it is to ground our light and build new things which will be sound, just, creative, and community well-being oriented, to expand light on this currently ailing and darkened planet of ours. That’s not easy because first we have to sort through our own shit in order to not make the same mistakes which were inflicted upon us, including “group think,” which is non-inclusive and non-expansive, poised to become dysfunctional, bullying, and marginalizing one way or another.

      This is not an easy task, but it is a highly creative endeavor to help bring in a new paradigm. So much unknown, so much uncertainty, kinda scary and very exciting. What choice do we have? We know what we don’t want, so we know what we do want. And we’re going for it.

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    • Robert, I commend you for acknowledging the dysfunction and harm perpetuated by psychiatry and their toxic drugs. I agree GP’s who take part in widespread prescribing are also part of the problem. I didn’t find your blog “disingenuous” at all (and found that description harsh) and I applaud all your efforts over the years to reform the system and try reduce the harm.

      After my brother died on psychiatric drugs (depressed after his marriage breakup) and I was harmed when sent to a psychiatrist for insomnia caused by chemo, it became clear psychiatry does not provide help, and instead does a great deal of harm. It was not until I found MIA and read the blogs, personal stories etc, that I realized the sheer magnitude of the harm. In my opinion psychiatry is VERY self-righteous and self-serving and therefore I would like to see it dismantled. I realize that would be a real David and Goliath battle but in the meantime I hope any psychiatrists out there who do acknowledge the harm and want reform will speak out and unite with yourself and the many others in various “MH” fields who are appalled at how damaging the psychiatric system really is.

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