We Are All in This Together

Lucy Johnstone, PsyD
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For several weeks now, I have been waking in the night with feelings of intense anxiety. I constantly monitor myself for symptoms of a possibly fatal illness. I can’t concentrate very well, and my usual ways of coping don’t seem to be working. I feel a bit safer inside my house but I also feel trapped. One minute I feel fine, and the next I feel terrified. Have I suddenly developed a “mental health problem,” unfortunately timed to coincide with the COVID-19 pandemic? No, of course not. I’m having an entirely rational response to a major threat to our whole way of life.

It feels appropriate to make this a more personal blog because we really are all in this together—and I don’t just mean as a community or as a nation, but as a species. Coupled with environmental damage and climate change—to which it is related—the pandemic is by far the biggest threat we have ever faced. Who can say how we ought to be feeling at such a time? Where do we draw the line between “normal” and “abnormal,” “mentally ill” and “mentally well”?

And yet that is exactly what many so-called experts are continuing to do. It is both horrifying and fascinating to see how the “mental illness” narrative is being used to individualise and pathologise our responses even as our very survival is in jeopardy. This is presenting us with a particularly stark illustration of the craziness of psychiatric thinking.

In the UK and around the world, the headlines are everywhere. We are heading for a “pandemic of severe mental health disorders.” We are facing “an epidemic of clinical depression.” Charities are lining up to express alarm—the Mental Health Foundation found that six out of ten people were anxious about the crisis and at risk of “persistent and severe mental health problems.” We are exhorted to learn the lessons from China and prepare for “a public mental health crisis.”

Of course, this is nonsense. A more sensible response would be to ask what is wrong with the four in ten people who are apparently not too bothered about what is happening. We should be far more worried about someone who is blithely denying the extent of the problem—especially (mentioning no names but there are several of them on the world stage) if they are national leaders charged with steering their countries through the crisis.

Only a few weeks ago, someone who was too scared to leave the house in case they contracted a fatal disease, and spent most of the day washing their hands and wiping down doorknobs, would have been regarded as having a severe case of “OCD.” Now it is the description of a responsible citizen. Never was there a clearer illustration of the fact that judgements about who is “mentally ill” are social, not medical ones. Never was it more obvious that distress makes sense in context. Abnormal situations lead to unusual or extreme responses. If we are fearful, then so we should be.

***

Mad in America and Mad in the UK audiences do not need convincing about the damage that results from diagnostic labelling, and unlike the general public, they will already be familiar with the large body of evidence telling us that the various forms of distress diagnosed as “psychosis,” “clinical depression,” “bipolar disorder,” “personality disorder” and so on are strongly related to experiences of trauma, abuse, neglect, loss, poverty, unemployment, discrimination and inequality. The hostile voices that some people hear often echo the words of real life abusers. Low mood and despair make sense if you are struggling with loneliness and lack of resources. Self-harm and anxiety are the predictable result of the pressures our children and young people are facing. In other words, when placed in context, these reactions are understandable responses to adversities.

But sadly, translating these understandable human reactions into the language of “mental health” is as much of a global epidemic as the coronavirus, and just as hard to counter. We are increasingly encouraged to reframe every form of distress into a “mental health problem” under the new imperative to “talk about mental health” more or less constantly. This discourse has penetrated so deeply into the minds of professionals, the media and the general public that they simply do not see it as problematic, or even grasp what the criticisms might be. To give just one example, Public Health England has, commendably, promoted a message of “It is normal to feel anxious in a crisis” and has suggested a range of commonsense strategies and mutual supports. However, the campaign is headlined by two of our Royals, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, urging us to “look after our mental health.”

“Mental health” is such a seductive phrase, but as soon as it becomes just another way of saying “how we all feel,” we are sucked back into a subtly individualising and medicalising framework. Even critically-minded writers end up arguing that we should do X (where X is ordinary coping strategies and mutual support) rather than Y (where Y is diagnoses and prescriptions) in order to preserve our “mental health”—this mysterious, indefinable but apparently fragile state of mind—rather than challenging the whole concept of “mental health” in the first place.

But the idea that we are facing two simultaneous pandemics—a physical health one and, by a tragic coincidence, a mental health one as well—isn’t just nonsense. It is dangerous. In falling victim to this way of thinking, we lose connections with the wider issues just as surely—in fact more so, because we don’t even notice we are doing it—as those who are promoting the more overtly medical “pandemic of chronic disorders” narrative.

There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, the more we label our understandable human reactions as mental health problems or disorders, the greater the temptation to focus on  individual “treatments” instead—whether psychiatric or psychological/therapeutic. I have seen both groups eagerly priming themselves to receive all the new customers created by the crisis, although with nearly a quarter of the UK population already being prescribed an “antidepressant,” we would do far better to offer practical and financial support.

Similarly, we know that formal psychological interventions can actually be harmful if implemented too early. Instead of uniting us in solidarity, diagnostic labels isolate and silence us, and give us the message that we are not coping as we should be able to. On the other hand, simple human support and contact from friends, neighbours and colleagues has been shown to protect against fear and despair in times of crisis and disaster.

Secondly, diagnostic labels and the “mental health” discourse actually prevent us from dealing with the wider reasons for our distress, by disconnecting our responses from the threats. In more “normal” times, those threats typically include things like abuse, neglect, violence, discrimination and poverty. Those factors still apply, but coupled with climate change, we are now faced with an additional level of threat beyond anything we have ever known.

The immediate task is to survive the pandemic as well as we can. This in itself is demonstrating the acute failures of our public health systems and welfare networks, along with much-needed reminders that the most essential members of our society are those who are lowest paid and least valued—nurses, care workers, delivery drivers, shop assistants and so on. There is a great deal to be learned as we emerge into a post-pandemic world.

But the lessons need to go a good deal further. There is a danger of “individualising” a crisis as well as a person’s reactions to it, even though all the evidence suggests that COVID-19 is not just a random disaster. It has been predicted for years, based on the known impact of destruction of animal habitats, which increases the likelihood of viruses being transmitted to humans. This environmental destruction is, in turn, a consequence of the exploitation of the natural world driven by the demands of industrialisation. Truly, the planet is fighting back. One day, unless we take drastic collective action to change the whole economic and value base of our Western industrialised way of life, there will be a virus we cannot beat.

***

These are tricky arguments to make, and can quickly be interpreted as callous disregard of people’s suffering. It is very important not to deny the very real and acute distress that many people with diagnosed “mental illness” are now experiencing, especially if they suddenly find that their usual services are unavailable, and are stuck within their own four walls with no one to call upon. I’ve seen desperate pleas from people who have been dropped by their psychiatric team, just when they need contact more than ever. This is shocking and unjustifiable.

But equally, we don’t want to assume that survivors as a group will fail to cope. This is untrue and even patronising, and there are also reports of people coping better than usual as they draw on talents for survival that the officially “normal” population may lack. One service user tweeted: “For those of us who already live with trauma or the significant impact of mental health on our daily life we are perhaps more prepared/less complaining about self-isolation, surviving on low income, restrictions in movements and facing cuts in our health/social care services. Another said: “We have walked these extreme emotions and come out the other side.”

Similarly, people with serious physical health problems have pointed out that isolation is their usual way of life, and have pleaded not to be forgotten again when the lockdown is lifted. Psychiatric survivors have set up an impressive list of peer networks and resources in recent weeks including a set of “Lived wisdom” strategies drawn from “hard-won expertise learned through traversing challenging life experiences.”

UK journalist John Crace,1 who has a history of mental distress, is experiencing both sides of the coin: “I wake up early and for a brief nanosecond all is well with the world. Then my mind turns to….the reality of the coronavirus pandemic. Anxiety electrifies me. It’s not just a sense of existential dread, it’s a parasitical entity that takes over my entire body. My shoulders and upper arms tingle with fear, there is a ball of dread in my guts and my legs cramp. I am immobilised for the best part of an hour. I know I should be getting out of bed but I am too afraid to do so… At present, I can’t face being in my study at home. I feel too alone and unsafe.” And then he adds: “It just feels like reality has finally caught up with my own sense of neurosis and anxiety. Which may be deeply worrying for most ordinary people, but is somehow almost reassuring for me. Almost.”

His anxiety is clearly very real and overwhelming, but who is to say that it is unreasonable? Maybe we should all have been feeling more like him for a very long time. Suddenly, the barriers between them—service users/survivors and us, the “normals”—are breaking down. All of us can both offer and receive support.

***

Surviving the pandemic, as most of us will, is only the start of it. However, we must not be tempted back into a medical narrative, even though the aftermath will probably be as bad, if not worse. Healthcare staff may be deeply shaken by the suffering they saw, but we don’t have to call it an outbreak of “PTSD.” People who have lost their jobs are likely to feel desperate, but we don’t have to describe this as “clinical depression” and prescribe drugs for it. The economic recession that will follow the pandemic may lead to as many suicides as austerity measures did, but we don’t have to say that “mental illness” caused these deaths.

COVID-19 is a national and international crisis, and there is no doubt that we will all be deeply scarred by it. However, we can come out of this crisis in a better state than before by staying connected with our feelings and the urgent threats that have led to them and taking collective action to deal with the root causes. Perhaps we will, at last, be forced to make the link between rising levels of misery, fear, self-harm, suicide and despair and the social ills of austerity, insecure employment, discrimination and poverty. Perhaps we will finally drop both poles of the “mental health/illness” narrative and instead, talk a lot more about our real, valid human reactions to discrimination, insecurity, inequality and injustice in our lives and our communities.

This is a chance to challenge, not reinforce, the MH narrative, which is why I am part of a small group trying to get a different message out in the media. We have had some successes (see The Guardian and Nursing Standard). More articles, podcasts and blogs are in the pipeline, and we have collated non-medicalising, non-pathologising resources on Mad in the UK.

“Collective trauma” can be defined as an event or situation that challenges the lifestyle, values and identity of a whole society. Judith Herman,2 one of the pioneers of trauma work, recognises its profound impact on whole societies as well as on individuals. She says: “The solidarity of a group provides the strongest protection against terror and despair, and the strongest antidote to traumatic experience.” She also says that truth-telling and social action can bring healing and change out of adversity. The writer Ben Okri has phrased it beautifully:

The questions raised by the pandemic should spill over into all the other issues through which future disasters might arise… climate change, universal healthcare, justice and poverty… Values of the market have taken over from values of human solidarity… We are deep in a new wasteland… All our myths point in two directions. We either go upwards, towards the true meaning of civilisation, or we head for an apocalypse.

I believe there are already signs of moving in the right direction. In the UK the wounds of Brexit are starting to heal, as “remainers” offer to shop for “leavers” and vice versa, and people join their street’s WhatsApp group to keep an eye on the vulnerable and elderly. Although physically separate, we are in some ways closer than ever. For me, there is the unexpected delight of having both my adult kids at home again, cooking and watching rubbish films together. Others are finding silver linings in new freedom from commuting and daily pressures, and in cleaner air and simpler pleasures.

We need a new narrative of shared distress to replace the failed one of individual disorders. We need human connection and mutual support. We can learn to manage our feelings in a way that helps us through the crisis and gives us the energy to make much-needed social and environmental changes afterwards. The usual dividing lines melt away in the face of global emergency. We really are all in this together.

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Crace, J. (2020, March). I’m often paralysed by fear but it’s time to appreciate the small stuff. The Guardian.
  2. Herman, J. (2015). Trauma and recovery: The aftermath of violence—from domestic abuse to political terror. Basic Books.

***

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.

162 COMMENTS

  1. “I have seen both groups eagerly priming themselves to receive all the new customers created by the crisis.” The psychologists and psychiatrists really should be ashamed of themselves. Distress caused by distressing events is NOT a “mental illness.” It’s distress caused by a distressing event.

    From a person who had distress caused by 9/11/2001 misdiagnosed as “bipolar,” I later learned from reading medical records, by a pathological lying, sick, child abuse covering up psychologist, who had odd delusions that all distress is caused by “chemical imbalances” in people’s brains. The “mental health” workers really need to garner insight into reality. Their “chemical imbalance” theory was debunked decades ago. And all their DSM disorders were debunked as “invalid” by the head of NIMH in 2013.

    But instead they are “eagerly priming themselves to receive all the new customers created by the crisis.” It’s just disgusting. Predators on humanity. I agree, “We need a new narrative of shared distress to replace the failed one of individual disorders. We need human connection and mutual support.” I would add mutual respect. The DSM should be flushed.

  2. Though not as a comment specifically in response, I thought I’d post a quote from “Seth,” with whom some folks here may be familiar (I’ve been re-reading some of his material recently, transmitted through medium Jane Roberts):

    Unfortunately, many of your public health programs, and commercial statements through the various media, provide you with mass meditations of a most deplorable kind. I refer to those in which the specific symptoms of various diseases are given, in which the individual is further told to examine the body with those symptoms in mind. I also refer to those statements that just as unfortunately specify diseases for which the individual may experience no symptoms of an observable kind, but is cautioned that these disastrous physical events may be happening despite his or her feelings of good health. Here the generalized fears fostered by religious, scientific, and cultural beliefs are often given as blueprints of diseases in which a person can find a specific focus — the individual can say:”Of course, I feel listless, or panicky, or unsafe since I have such-and-such a disease.”

    https://www.law-of-attraction-haven.com/support-files/the-individual-and-the-nature-of-mass-events-jane-roberts.pdf

  3. I beg to differ.

    If anyone knows the truth about the “we’re in this together’ it is survivors who have been left out in the cold for the wolves by people who were in it together. And i’ve no doubt that many will fall into line and ‘pull together’ only to be stabbed in the back (again) as soon as things are back to normal.

    I think it perhaps better to take the attitude of many of our elite that we’re in this for what we can get out of it and exploit those who are struggling and finding themselves in need. It’s been working up to now, and I can see no reason for that to change any time soon.

    I was no longer in this together after having my whole community turn their backs on me after I was subjected to 7 hours of torture and kidnapped. And then to have hospital administrators distribute fraudulent documents to lawyers to ‘cover up’ their criminality? I’d be careful who I trusted when they are engaging in that sort of conduct. And all because someone thought that not thinking the same way as them must be some form of an illness, and was prepared to ‘spike’ me with benzos and plant a knife on me to obtain a police referral (to try and conceal the torture and kidnapping as being “inherent in or incidental to lawful sanction”).

    And to this day 9 years later they continue to utter with the fraudulent documents despite me presenting them with the truth. They prefer the false narrative and simply continue with the slander and threats to my family. Trust us, says the man throwing around cash like a drunken sailor, knowing that it will be retrieved via tax increases as soon as we’re not all in it together again.

    The three white sheep feed the black sheep to the wolf. Now they are only three when the threat returns, and they have knowledge of the way they conspired against the black sheep last time. I don’t know that they will be hearing “we’re all in this together” again. Though they are sheep, and the herd mentality will last till there is one. The ‘get in first’ principle still applies, despite what the people touting for your mental health dollar tell you.

    “You have to be trusted
    by the people that you lie to
    so that when they turn their backs on you
    you get the chance to put the knife in”

    Pink Floyd; Dogs (from Animals)

    Vulpes pilum mutat non mores

    • “If you’re not with us, you’re against us” George W Bush after 9/11 who then passed the Patriot Act and has constructed a mass surveillance State.

      And this new one? “We’re all in this together” will result in what? People who have been positively predatory are now going to stand shoulder to shoulder and sing “We shall overcome”?

    • Amen to that boans I agree we most certainly are not “all in this together” with psychiatrists and other abusers. Psych survivors can be in it with other psych survivors and psych system victims. But personally I’m not “in it together” with all the abusive people I had met in my past like the guy who tried to kill me, the various people who have assaulted me over the years, I’m not in it together with the guy who raped me, I’m not in it together with the psychiatrists who lied to and tortured me, and I most certainly am not in it together with the psychiatrists who tortured a man I love to the point he eventually grew so ill from pills he couldn’t even recognize my voice on the phone, a man who for more than the last decade has been missing in my life.

      And notably, Italy apparently is asking for war damages from China. Read that again everyone and think about what that means. The time for pretending or acting like we are in it together with a totalitarian Chinese government is at an end. In numerous countries now they have rapidly gone down a very steep and slippery slope into 1984. A number of countries have now DEMANDED that people add apps to their phones that will track their every move or wear wristbands that do same. If you refuse the police will be at your door.

      • Also it needs to be pointed out that the eminent Judith Herman once famously told a well known environmental author and activist that his belief in animism, a belief shared by many indigenous groups on earth, was a sign he was “mentally ill”. He had never reported that he had been considered “mentally ill” by a doctor. Despite an apparent exclusion in the DSM whereby people are supposed to be free to uphold their spiritual beliefs, she told him he was crazy. I believe Herman is supposed to be an expert on the effects of captivity, if so the reality that she could so casually label someone she didn’t know “mentally ill” pretty well undermines the work she is supposedly doing.

  4. Thanks for the informative article Lucy,

    I believe I’ve read articles from John Crace in the Guardian, and watched him speak at a Maudsley Debate:

    “…..I wake up early and for a brief nanosecond all is well with the world. Then my mind turns to….the reality of the coronavirus pandemic. Anxiety electrifies me. It’s not just a sense of existential dread, …”

    Me:
    I wake up early most mornings, and expect to wake “anxious”. I focus on my body and eventually the anxiety does reduce. Half an hour later I can’t even clearly picture what I had been “terrified” about, BUT if I was to get into it at the time, I know it would become very real.

    I found my solutions that seem to consistently work, outside the official and funded system. I don’t know what life is like for anyone else, but I think a lot of people might have experienced similar to me. I’m not a great Fan of “Mental Illness” either.

    I didn’t worry too much about the virus initially, until a medical friend of mine told me that the serious stages can be very uncomfortable. My heart goes out to anyone in this dreadful position.

    • “…For several weeks now, I have been waking in the night with feelings of intense anxiety. I constantly monitor myself for symptoms of a possibly fatal illness. I can’t concentrate very well, and my usual ways of coping don’t seem to be working. I feel a bit safer inside my house but I also feel trapped….”

      I know what you mean by this, I’ve experienced feelings like this myself, but not this time over the Corona Virus!

      Most people I mix with are responsible, but don’t seem too upset, and the other people I mix with are speculative it’s a “conspiracy”. This lock down though, could in the long term “materially” change a lot of ordinary people’s lives, for the worse.

  5. “But the lessons need to go a good deal further. There is a danger of “individualising” a crisis as well as a person’s reactions to it, even though all the evidence suggests that COVID-19 is not just a random disaster. It has been predicted for years, based on the known impact of destruction of animal habitats, which increases the likelihood of viruses being transmitted to humans. This environmental destruction is, in turn, a consequence of the exploitation of the natural world driven by the demands of industrialisation. Truly, the planet is fighting back. One day, unless we take drastic collective action to change the whole economic and value base of our Western industrialised way of life, there will be a virus we cannot beat.”

    Thank you. It’s important to keep making the connections between human behavior and natural disasters, and to keep pointing out why so many of us recognize this as the existential threat it is.

  6. We need a new narrative of shared distress to replace the failed one of individual disorders.

    If this means recognizing that we are all up against a monstrous capitalist monolith which is at war with all Life, and that we must support one another as we constantly work together to defeat it, I agree!

    Where do we draw the line between “normal” and “abnormal,” “mentally ill” and “mentally well”?

    And why would we want to?

  7. I agree with not turning an understandable human response into a pathology. I agree. But…

    What happens when an understandable human response is still too big to manage without support. As an anti-psychiatry activist, even though the response was understandable, I had no options but to seek support from the system. Even the treating psychiatrist admitted that if it was her she would have had the resources for a retreat, acupuncture, nutrition, whatever she wanted… But what do you do when the understandable reaction to an extreme situation leaves you too much for natural supports, or too afraid to trust them, or just not able to convey how bad it is. I couldn’t wait for society to change. I tried everything I could think of to survive before giving in. I tried until my credit card was maxed and I was living in my car. When I confessed to a fellow survivor that I thought I needed haldol I was yelled at. When I begged another survivor for help it was not understood as an emergency and he was very supportive but all he had to offer were words. There was one couple who took me in, but my chance of earning within the movement depended on my recovery story, or so I believed and still do, so I couldn’t be honest there either. I was not okay at all, but their was no one with resources, or patience, or energy to keep me safe indefinitely except psychiatry. No one loved me that much, but I know how to survive psychiatry from too much experience. I took a calculated risk and it worked out this time, but What now? How do I reconcile this as an activist? I HATE what psychiatry has done to me and my friends. I had shock treatment as a child. I’ve been hospitalized more times than I have digits. So don’t tell me I just don’t understand!!!!! I have permanent damage from 13 years of poly-pharmacy. But when push came to shove psychiatry was there when no one could be. This time because of having powerful advocates, I wasn’t force treated. I was in hospital 46 days and in a group home 4.5 more months. Who else would have the resources for such support? I didn’t want anyone to see me in that state anyways. And the trauma itself came from within the movement. So what now? One thing I did learn was that vocal advocates who are not afraid to say, “we’re watching. She better not come out more damaged than she went in.” made all the difference. And a doctor who had witnessed my journey off meds took a chance treating me a new way. It changed me. And I watched and took notes as others without advocacy were abused and forced and not believed… It was like I had immunity. Untouchable. In psychiatry nothing has changed (It’s really true), but with the right voices behind me everything was different. Please don’t hurt me for saying it… Maybe we need both, Psychiatry and the movement.

    • O.O.
      You don’t owe me an explanation.
      Each person has their own unique experience.
      I am however not sure why you would have ‘needed’ shock treatment as a child and sorry but there is no way I can “reconcile” that.
      If that is not trauma, I don’t know what is.

      You are correct, a lot of people are stuck, and their choice might be psychiatry, although it is not a choice, it is a last resort. But that certainly does not identify it as a good service, no matter the “resources”.
      If there is no food and a kind government resource gives me the rotten meat soup, that is not kind nor safe, and it simply reinforces the fact that I am wretched.

      Psychiatry does not HAVE to give you designer labels in order to give you resources.
      People are having to give up their original titles of who they are, in exchange for NEW descriptors of WHO they are, plus”treatment”, with damaging chemicals, in exchange for a bed and meal, and that is NOT good enough.

      They could easily give resources to people WITHOUT ever labeling anyone. That is purely a power trip, which evolved into something called psychiatry and parades around like a “medical service” with actors playing a role.

      Time is a wonderful thing. New things come to light.

      • That makes a lot of sense. Shock was used as discipline. I was too honest, idealistic… too me. I’d probably thank the government for the rotten meat. I know what happens to those who rise up. It is so hard to speak up openly after that kind of conditioning. How does one ever truly belong after being intentionally broken by your state appointed savior.

        It is hard to hear that we are in this together. I like the way Boans said it.

      • Change is not coming fast enough. We have to be smart. This is what I’ve learned. Maybe it could help others.

        when you have no other options aim for a label like PTSD or autism where meds are not the only treatment funded. if it applies get referred to a sexual assault centre. Play up who you know. My advocates were phone in only and it worked. And most importantly be still. Don’t fidget. Pretend to read if you can get a book. Let outside supports say the strong words for you. This is key! This is an enemy you must outsmart. I had advocates threatening legal action as another patient asked directly to call a lawyer. She was taken down by force for it while I sat unmedicated. The only difference between us was advocacy. Arrange a plan ahead of time. Get out of certification if possible. For me advocacy combined with my firm determination to act serene got my 30 day hold cancelled. They can do it if they want to. Get out of emergency psych and try to find a doctor close to retirement who has less to lose. Put your head down, work hard, get what you need and get out! Readjust. Learn. Keep moving. You are a warrior!

          • I smile to this day about the night I had the hospital LOCK ME OUT because I had returned from the Mosque in my prayer garments and kufi. Who’s paranoid now? lmao.

            I wouldn’t advise this to anyone though, given that this hospitals staff have a history of using ‘throw down’ weapons for police to find, and of ‘spiking’ peoples drinks with benzos (drugs that are strictly prohibited) to aid in that process of planting items for police. And their greatest weapon of all, being authorised by the Minister to distribute fraudulent documents should anyone complain and be able to prove what i’m saying. That and the threatening of peoples families (“we’ll fuking destroy you”) means they win every time.

            Think these people really believe ‘were in this together’? Think again before turning your back or trusting them. Like an umbrella that doesn’t work, it’s good to know you have it with you, till it starts to rain.

            In that sense I quote the Hagakure

            “There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.”

        • Hi O.O.

          I don’t judge you at all, and I think your contribution is very worthwhile.

          It’s only comparatively recently that I have come to view “psychiatry” as Fraud – while I was drug dependant I believed in it.

          It sounds like a potentially very threatening environment though.

          In Ireland (as far as I know) psychiatric drugs cannot be forced on a person outside of hospital, so if someone remains legal they can avoid drugging. However the “medications” are often in injection form, and if a person stops taking them the reult is often ‘rebound insanity’.

    • Maybe we need both, Psychiatry and the movement.

      While I would never shame you for grabbing at straws this is not a logical conclusion. You are obviously a VICTIM of psychiatry, as well as of this entire monstrous system.

      Psychiatry was not “there when you needed it,” what was there were a few individuals within the psychiatric gulag who managed to help you despite their being entangled in the system. Your life was apparently almost ruined by psychiatry at a young age and you are still trying to recover from it.

      Saying we need both psychiatry and the AP movement (to the degree it actually exists) is like saying that the French people during WWII “needed” both Hitler and the Resistance.

      I wish you well.

      • Standing outside a predator’s house protesting, “kidnappers shouldn’t exist!” is not going to help the child under the stairs. The child is my only concern.

        I already know psychiatry shouldn’t exist, but it does. What I really need help with is how to extricate the people suffering right now. Please, if you know a way, enlighten me.

        You know that long list of labels we want gone, the one used to silence and control us? I think we need to add victim to that list.

        • You don’t protest a kidnapping, you intervene to stop it. Take the kid and neutralize the criminal.

          What would be the “alternative” description of someone who has been victimized? Naming something for what it is is a prerequisite for taking action to stop it. This is not “labeling,” it’s looking at reality. In Malaysia or somewhere I heard it is illegal to say the word “coronavirus.” Let’s wait & see if that stops it.

          The answer is that you cannot immediately defeat psychiatry no matter how urgent the need. This takes organizing, which must be scientific and methodical to succeed. You know what they say about a journey of thousand miles beginning with one step.

          • Exactly.
            So what do you suggest? How do we sneak kids out while we neutralize the kidnapper? What if it is an international ring of powerful people?
            If it was you locked up what would get you out the fastest and keep you out so you could continue helping plan to defeat psychiatry? Or does the fact you are a victim disqualify you from trying?
            What if we never defeat psychiatry?

          • I get the feeling this is the conversation had by Ariel Castros’ ‘patients’. The only reason he went to prison was because he failed to keep his licences in order. A bit like Al Capone, maybe we just need to view this in a whole new way?

          • O.O. — You are asking for specific answers to general and speculative questions. It depends on the actual circumstances. If you know of a child being held by kidnappers at the moment there are probably better things to be doing than posting on MIA, you might start by calling the police.

            Psychiatry, like capitalism, will eventually crumble under the weight of its own contradictions, our job for now is to give it as many kicks as possible. (Props to Abbie Hoffman for that.) 🙂

            If you are interested in actual anti-psychiatry organizing there are people here who will be paying attention. But don’t expect immediate results.

        • I am living proof that a 30 day certification can be cancelled in an instant.

          I don’t expect immediate results, I demand it.

          We aren’t kicking psychiatry, we are kicking each other in the little read comment section of MIA anonymously.

        • You know that long list of labels we want gone, the one used to silence and control us? I think we need to add victim to that list.

          On further reflection I would add that while someone who has been victimized is by definition a victim of that victimization, it’s important that this doesn’t lead to making “victim” their self-identity, which is something else entirely, and self-perpetuating, and would certainly be nearly identical to a self-imposed psychiatric label. But only the person in question can control that, and decide not to do it.

          • I agree. Victim is in reference to an EVENT. It does not define a PERSON, it defines the action of one person or group against another that causes harm. I can be a victim of a crime without victim defining my identity as a human being. In fact, it is the confusion of events with identity that is what most characterizes the stupidity of the psychiatric worldview.

  8. And another illuminator of crooked psychiatry IS, if people need advocates to fight for them, to fight for some pretend “right”, to have to “work” together to allow someone not “rights”, but protection from outright abuse. THAT is NOT achieving rights. That is policing criminals, yet in a begging fashion.
    Making a deal with the devil. NO THANKS.

    We are at the point where we need cops for the cops, human “rights” activists for psychiatry and also “medical advocates”. I however am not comfortable with this and refuse to accept this as something normal.
    It’s a joke, but not funny at all.
    People should never become comfortable with having to have cops to police the cops, or cameras and audio to every meeting. Lawyers are bored. Shrinks are bored to have to pretend to be “allowing rights”

  9. I think the shared distress is mass gaslighting, which would merit a new level of discernment, aka expanded consciousness. Everyone will have their own truth of the matter and is entitled to their own reality by choosing a perspective from which to experience it. Respect and appreciation for the inherent and natural diversity of humanity will put an end to oppression.

  10. Dr. Johnstone, I SO appreciate your standpoint on the absurdity and harm psychiatry does by pathologizing every ‘normal’ human reaction to ‘abnormal’ circumstances.

    “It is both horrifying and fascinating to see how the “mental illness” narrative is being used to individualise and pathologize our responses even as our very survival is in jeopardy.”
    “Never was it more obvious that distress makes sense in context”.

    Yes, and so many who thought they would get “help” found out psychiatry is very hazardous to one’s health and well-being. The diagnostic labels and ‘treatments’ always locate the problems within the person and the real reasons for the problems and/or distress are ignored and dismissed.

    I agree we are all in this together with the exception of the psychiatrists who are consumed with power, control and image and could never admit to being like the “others” – the ones they ironically label as defective for having the very same feelings/thoughts/fears as them.

  11. We ALL need new ideas and new thinking and thoughts. We can never create the changes we need without these new realities. First, each one of us has our own unique, idiosyncratic brain which was created by our unique genetic code. We DO have some abilities to affect the structure and function of our brains by our chosen behaviors, such as exercise and meditation. But our MIND is NOT ours alone. Our mind was created for us, by other people speaking to us, and interacting with us. Our “mental” is a SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION! So when any of us is victimized by a psychiatric label of “mental illness”, that says far more about our SICK SOCIETY AS A WHOLE, than it does about us as individuals. We’re “sick” BECAUSE of the pseudoscience of psychiatry, not in spite of it….

  12. Thank you for this really thoughtful post. It’s brought home to me how utterly vulnerable 95% of us are: many families I know have underlying health issues – even children – placing them at risk from Covid 19. The social distancing is awful, but also necessary. Every day comes with a set of instructions, but……

    As someone relatively new to an area (moved to the west of England 17 months ago), strangers now wave hello and a few stop for 2-3 minutes conversation. Everyone tells me to ‘stay safe’; a month ago, I was just another financial transaction to many; I stand outside my door and clap for the NHS along with 50 others – and was the first to get it going 3 weeks ago! I’ve never heard from so many people as I’ve heard from the past month.

    Many of us can still phone friends or family. Skype/Zoom/Facetime. I hope mental institutions are allowing that? I hope that staff are being kind to those who have to remain indoors. I hope there are enough conversations, enough games and films and computer games and sharing about hopeful things we can DO once this is over, and most of all, I hope that we can collectively build a much more caring society.

    Four years ago, when I began Open Dialogue therapy, my team unearthed a lot of childhood trauma. I’ve often been the outsider, which is a lonely place to be, and at one point I had many symptoms of psychosis, but was wise enough to recognise it was a normal reaction to extreme events. Avoided medication like the plague, and never bothered labelling myself: I am simply and utterly human. it is very reassuring to accept this truth.

    So, whilst I take precautions, I feel better able to survive this pandemic, whilst appreciating the extraordinary courage of our amazing NHS, and all those who put others’ needs first. Wishing everyone resilience and care for others during this time…… <3

  13. I think of the day when we will all look back and say “Yes, we were all in it together”.

    No I’m not speaking about the corona virus pandemic, but the institutional abuse that has been going on within the church for 40 years.

    #Count me out when it comes to abuse.

    • They will use those tests to control people’s freedom. Why do you want people tested? What will it accomplish other than bringing down the statistical death rate? And discriminating against people who “have it”?

      “All in this together” is a mantra I hear repeated over & over. Sorry, I’m not “in it” with the folks who initially created & spread this shit around. I want them caught and punished, and ALL bioweapons research made a war crime. Yes, that includes Americans.

  14. I realize that I am in a trap. Whichever way I go, I will be attacked. But I tend to root for humanity, and Piers Morgan was making that argument.

    I find the double meaning of the expression infuriating, but chose to believe that it is true that somehow we must pull together in this crises—especially when our political leaders appear lost and confused.

    • “political leaders appear lost and confused.”

      Like George W when they broke the news to him about 9/11?

      I remember the words of Colonel Giap who, when asked how he expected to beat the might of the US military machine responded by saying “we are not going to fight in the American way, we are going to fight in the Vietnamese way”. The weapons were thus provided and history written.

      It is better to bring your enemy around to your way of thinking than engage in outright conflict. “The Way of War is a Way of Deception” Sun Tzu

      And when you can not speak the truth to your own people? Are you not at war with your own people?

    • That’s an interesting point you make Johnchristine. I’ve never felt more “in it together” than at present with people who don’t feel like “we’re in it together”. Who’d have though eh lol

      Funny but I get the feeling that these protests will go nowhere and will fizzle out to nothing. Just the way I felt on 5th May 1789. How wrong I was.

  15. I am certain that 99% of the media who use the expression “all in this together” KNOW that it is an extremely tone deaf idea.

    They know that most people do not enjoy their own empowerment. In other words, they are taunting their disempowered audience, and that is really shameful.

  16. People who have been verbally manipulated by parents since childhood do not feel that they are all in this together. The names my mom called me were “Cakey”, “Bonzert”, and “Poosey”. While they were partly affectionate, they were mostly derogatory, meant as insults.

    Why would my mom be insulting me on a daily basis? Because I was a daily reminder of her negligence in the summer of 1966 when she wasn’t paying attention to me as her friend Mrs. Moore was backing out of our driveway at 8550 Keller Road in Cincinnati, and ran me over, resulting in my traumatic brain injury.

    In other words, my mom felt guilty about her own negligence, but she could not admit that guilt to herself or to me…and so the only way she could manage her daily life was to put me down on a daily basis.

    Many of us TBI survivors and gas lighting survivors have been introduced to psychiatry by our parents—the very people who were negligent in the first place.

    Instead of restorative justice, the negligent parties are doubling down on their driveway accident victims, and demonizing us, in order to lift themselves up.

    So of course we don’t feel like we are all in this together.

  17. I still remember the confounding, diabolical look on my mother Treon McGuire Christine’s face when she called me Cakey or Bonzert or Poosey. It was a shit eating face of someone who had done something wrong and was continuing to do it right in front of me. She was attacking me in a thinly veiled manner by using insults disguised as terms of endearment. This happened throughout my childhood in the late sixties and the seventies.

    These names mostly made me become speechless in disbelief and confusion. I didn’t understand why she was manipulating me but I knew it made me feel uncomfortable, and yet she would keep doing it. I do remember that I made a weak attempt at calling her a name back in reply. For a while I called her Moosey (in reply to Poosey), but this reply always felt inadequate since it lacked the insulting sting that her names had on me. When I called her this she would just reply with her hateful/loving grin.

    My mother Treon McGuire Christine has a stiff middle finger on her left hand. It is the result of a car accident in the late sixties in which her hand hit the windshield—I don’t think she was wearing a seat belt. She was in the passenger seat with my dad, and I speculate that alcohol may have been involved in the accident.

    Anyway, she could not bend her middle finger after the accident—she said that the physical therapy was too painful so she just stopped. I think this accident was traumatic for her, and it may have been doubly traumatic if it occurred after my 1966 TBI driveway accident.
    When I think of her finger that is perpetually paralyzed, it seems symbolic as if she is giving the finger to anyone who might cross her.

    My mother Treon McGuire Christine would often call me the Bonzert/Cakey/Poosey names while she was under the influence of anti hystamines. She was always taking these drugs in the spring,summer and fall—I don’t think she took them in the winter. The anti hystamines were for allergies but I think she was probably hooked on them and she was chasing the feeling of superiority that they helped to give her.

    How can I tell all of this and not feel bitter? Well, I will admit that I am motivated by being woken up this morning at 3:15 am to the daily home invasion and torture. I know that my mother Treon McGuire Christine is aware that this is happening to me. I also know that when she took me to the Lindner Center of Hope in January, 2012, she was on a mission to take away my rights and my power. She succeeded in that I was given a diagnosis based on pseudo science—quackery.

  18. The Therapeutic State, unfortunately, does not care about any of this. It is only concerned with its own political agenda. And, ironically, that agenda consists of more name calling, so that TBI victims and gas lighting victims are re-named—but we are still scapegoats.

  19. The idea that what is happening to me is justice is so far off base that I want to scream.

    what is happening to me is home invasion and torture every night.

    Torture is not justice.

    Truth about my childhood is being ignored. The people in power simply do not want that truth to be known, because it doesn’t fit their false political narrative.

  20. Do people in solitary confinement feel like they are all in this together? Of course not.

    Do people being tortured feel like they are all in this together? No way.

    Do people who are disenfranchised feel like they are all in this together? No.

    Do people who are being drugged by the Therapeutic State feel like they are all in this together?
    The expression is an insult.

  21. Double meaning, verbal trickery is what is so wrong about psychiatry.

    Very often the people who are being fooled and ridiculed are victims—if you are willing to doa little research and find out who the scapegoats are.

    TBI victims, gas lighting victims, victims of a never ending political conspiracy. Truth matters.

  22. The truth got buried by a negligence cover up/ slander campaign against me.

    The victim who got run over in the driveway and had a major injury to the skull is now being demonized in order to clear the name of his negligent mother. NAMI and the Therapeutic State is happy to be of service to distract from what has really happened.

    In other words, “mental illness” is a distraction from my mom’s negligence in 1966. It isn’t fair to gas light a TBI victim in one way or another for most of his childhood and adult life…and TBI victims are gullible and vulnerable to gas lighting.

    • You are right!

      The problem is not you. Restorative justice requires everyone involved to be brave enough to own their mistakes, caring enough to want healing for all, and generous with time, effort and money. You have insight and they don’t. Even if they did agree to meet you would be left to arrange it all, to chase them down or punished for messing up a job that is just impossible alone and injured all while being triggered and traumatized by more stonewalling and more gaslighting and worse. And they still win, still work, and all we have left is the screaming feeling inside and out.

      It is not okay what happened and continues to happen to you. And now more silence as this blog gets buried in the pile. I pretend to let go and move on too, but I can’t. If you find a way to get reputation protecting cowards to the restorative justice table let me know.

  23. The title should be “We All SHOULD Be In This Together”.

    But the reality is that the people who are using this phrase are very aware that we are Not all in this together.

    That is why the expression is so infuriating.

    If we had restorative justice for juvenile TBI / Gaslighting Survivors, then perhaps we would be All in This Together.

    If our “justice “ system wasn’t so draconian, then perhaps we could be All in this together.

    But that isn’t the reality yet.

  24. From page 32, “Psychiatric diagnoses are based on social not medical judgements…

    They are making a series of judgments about how people ought to think, feel and behave.”

    Ok, so there you go: psychiatry is about social conditioning—not science or real medicine.

    Why not be transparent about all of it? Because there is massive corruption and torture that psychiatry doesn’t want everyone to know about. If the general public did understand the amount of torture and corruption, it might get shut down, as it should be.

  25. Inmate Lives Matter.

    Taking down the Therapeutic State will require taking down the prison system as it exists today.

    The Corona Virus highlights the inhumanity of putting people in cages, and how it does not make things better at all.

    The people caught up in the system must have a pathway back into society, but psychiatry is too happy to block those people. There is massive corruption and torture of people who can contribute again.

    The DSM labels must stop somehow. In the future, the labels will be remembered as the slanders that they are.

    Is it just a fantasy that we could actually all be in this together some day? We obviously have a long way to go but it seems possible.

  26. If we really believe that we are all in this together, then we should be embracing ideas like restorative justice.

    If we really believe we are all in this together, then we should be helping people who have made mistakes to stand back up.

    If we really want to walk the walk—not just talk the talk, then embrace social justice for marginalized people.

  27. Some of us have been caught in a political storm for almost Four decades without realizing the severity of the situation until recently.

    I do empathize with the millions of people who are suffering and I know their suffering is intense.

    The thing that bothers me the most are the media who ignore the fact that millions of people were already suffering before corona virus even started. This includes people with scapegoat labels and poor people in general.

  28. Fear and grief are not mental illnesses. That’s good to know.

    I would add that fear of being attacked in your own bed since 2012 is not a mental illness either.
    It is a political conspiracy that is using psychiatry as a weapon against a scapegoat.

    There must be restorative justice for TBI / Gaslighting victims.

  29. I want to say a little about juvenile alienation. Of course it is known that juveniles who act out and behave badly do not feel like they are in this together.

    So when a person is alienated for their whole adult life, is that feeling going to change? Probably not unless he gets restorative justice.

    Part of the healing process should be asking the person what made him feel alienated. If the community is motivated to understand the individual, then restorative justice can be done.

    Then, it will be true that we are all in this together.

    Getting a little deeper we have to ask our selves what holds communities together? Unfortunately, fear seems like the most obvious answer—and it isn’t a good one. Juveniles are easily alienated when the overwhelming reason for community is a sense of fear.

    I have the Straight, Inc. brain washing organization in mind that was the threat that was always present for kids who were too experimental or rebellious. It was very much based on fear, beatings, and indoctrination.

  30. Please read the article in the New Republic, “No Vaccine in Sight” by Alexander Zaitchik. The subtitle is “The US Was Once At The Cutting Edge of Pandemic Prevention. Then Big Pharma Took Over.”

    The article puts a lot of blame on the patent process and greed. It compares the profit driven system of today with the more public health priorities of the 1930s, 40s, 50s…
    The system started to change dramatically in the 1980s, prioritizing profit over people.

    Do we really think that we are All in this Together after reading this article? No, but there is reason for optimism, because we can go back to systems that were successful taking on polio, tuberculosis,
    Etc.

  31. I will try to understand the political conspiracy against me. I will try to know why everyone was willing to ignore the fact that their scapegoat—me —had been run over and brain injured as a toddler in 1966.

    First of all, I really doubt that many of the conspirators against me were even aware of my 1966 TBI.
    So, that will explain some of the draconian nature of the plot against me that started in 1981.

    I will try to understand why there was zero attempt at open dialogue in 1981; and if I myself missed numerous chances to open dialogue myself, I apologize (because I do realize now that the time to apologize for a nuisance crime is ASAP).

    As I mentioned earlier, I sincerely believe that TBI survivors may need prompting to apologize for nuisance crimes. And this is particularly true for TBI survivors who are also survivors of parental gas lighting. Once the process is started, I believe that those who offend and those who are offended can restore community and even improve communication.

    I also believe that it is still not too late, although it has been almost forty years, and I have hope for restorative justice. If restorative justice can happen then we will be All in this together.

  32. “If restorative justice can happen then we will be All in this together.”

    Agreed, John. Well said.
    I think often, we, including psychiatry do things out of sheer ignorance. I think psychiatry too was affected by their past, causing them to believe in things that are harmful towards others.
    There are many who come to see reality and question the practice, but they simply have nowhere else to go.

  33. Torture is a fascist political strategy to make the condemned man say things he probably would not otherwise say—especially if he had legal counsel. Another part of the torture is the extreme social isolation that I have been enduring, long before the Coronavirus arrived.

    I have taken a great risk in telling my thoughts, especially in these turbulent times. My reasoning has been that I must take the chance that people will realize that truth matters.

  34. The BLM movement has proved that we are not all in this together. Economic inequality is strongly related to health and wellness and that is why the African American community has been dying disproportionately from the Coronavirus.

    Of course, the other issue of doing anything while black in America—including sleeping in your home in the case of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, KY— is dangerous also proves that we are not all in this together.

    • Yes, Breonna Taylor was shot by police for no reason back in March. The Louisville police have still not been held accountable, and so people continue to protest in the streets.

      This is probably the most egregious police shooting that I have ever heard of, and so of course people should be angry. Truth matters and the people know that there has been a cover up of police brutality.

  35. I grew up in a house that hung up a portrait painting of a confederate general in the living room above the fireplace. It was always confusing for me to look at this painting, because I always thought the south had lost the war for good reason, because slavery is wrong. And therefore, we should not be proud of confederate generals who believed it was right.

    The portrait may be still on display at my brother Chadwick Wilson Christine, III’s house in San Francisco. Please let me know, Chad, if you have taken down that painting yet. To me it is a symbol of the lost cause of white supremacy.

  36. When I have confronted my brother, a neurologist, about the home invasion and torture that has been happening since January, 2012, he wanted me to believe that it was mental health issue. The truth is that it is a torture issue. The truth is that this is a forensic psychiatry / police brutality issue.

  37. If we are all in this together, why won’t the author reply to comments? (Because she was joking).

    We have never been in this altogether and that is the reason that psychiatry exists—to separate and divide people.

    If you flip the meaning of the expression, to mean This Is a Conspiracy against a Scapegoat, then it does make sense—finding and punishing scapegoats is psychiatry’s bread and butter.

  38. Being called crazy in a world that is crazy is the problem. The extreme inequality of wealth does take a toll on everyone. I admire people like Abigail Disney who call out the social injustice of income inequality, and is willing to alienate herself from her family in order to express the truth.

    When CEOs are making millions and the average worker is living paycheck to paycheck (or laid off in the time of Covid 19), then something is not right. When Disney employees can not afford to pay the rent and are living out of there cars, then something is wrong.

    What is most frustrating is that it doesn’t have to be this way. There can be and there should be social justice and workers can be paid a living wage with benefits and paid leave. Abigail Disney recognized the Disney worker as the people who create the magic for children at the parks, and of course it is so.

  39. She is an imperfect leader who is doing a pretty good job in calling out the enormous inequalities of income between huge billion dollar corporations and their workers. It is probably true that she has become a scapegoat by drawing intense feelings from all sides of the issue. For the bravery of standing up to that intense criticism, I think she is a hero.

    • It sure is JohnChristine. A gross enabling act by people with a duty to protect, and who find it easier to turn a blind eye than perform that duty, which I might add, they are being handsomely rewarded for. Taking money for NOT doing your duty, what a scam.

  40. Free Grace. It is the latest outrageous, draconian punishment aimed at a 15 year old in Pontiac, Michigan. She has been put into juvenile detention for not keeping up with her online homework,
    which was something like the third strike for her young record of minor offenses.

    . Stop punishing children for being children.

  41. I think that restorative justice is needed in this situation and in most juvenile justice cases.
    In other words, open dialogue. If you read Grace’s letter that she wrote to her mother from juvenile detention, then you can see that she WANTS Restorative Justice. She wants reconciliation.

  42. Again, the power vacuum between juveniles and adults is overwhelming for children. Then, add to that the alienation of juvenile detention and the problem has been multiplied— the juvenile will feel MORE alienated in the systems that are operating today.

    What is difficult about restorative justice is also what makes it work: recognizing that the whole community shares some responsibility.

  43. The public needs to know how a forty year conspiracy against a TBI survivor leads to a false “mental health” narrative.

    The truth is that a nuisance crime in 1981 has been blown up into a political vendetta. This is about families, schools, and communities scapegoating a TBI /gaslighting survivor.

    There must be restorative justice. There must be open dialogue. I have been actively trying to start that conversation but no one so far is willing to start restorative justice so far.

  44. There must be empathy for teenage misbehavior.

    Let’s face it, the reason there has not been any open dialogue about the 1981 misbehavior is that the people in power chose to interpret it from their own narrow political viewpoint.

    There is no open dialogue because of course I do not subscribe to that viewpoint, and I would object. The way this works is Because We Say So—this is not justice or anything close to democracy.

  45. Free Grace.

    Save face (justice system, because what is happening is a mockery of justice).

    “Saving face” was a popular expression at my old school. I like it, and of course it makes me think of open dialogue and restorative justice—not draconian punishment.

    • “Save face (justice system, because what is happening is a mockery of justice).”

      That was what I thought when an Attorney General considers a question of law (is it torture?) a question of ‘medicine’ (if you ask the question your mentally ill, and require treatment). This does mean that “we” never torture, but ‘treat’ anyone who even asks the question.

      “Do not conceal the truth when ye know what it is”

      Funny but “off your face” was a popular expression at the hospital that tortured and kidnapped me. I liked that because it reminded me daily that what they were doing was not medicine, but ‘cover ups’.

      🙂

  46. People should not be proud to be persecuting a TBI / Gaslighting survivor who was run over in the driveway in 1966. Everyone in this conspiracy is complicit in a cover up for Treon McGuire Christine, my mom, who was negligent.

    Of course, I am angry; because this situation demands restorative justice—not scapegoating a brain injury survivor.

    I am not proud of my mistakes and have tried to apologize for them. But Treon’s 1966 negligence must also be factored into all of the judgement for which I am persecuted.

    When your parent coaxes you to write in your fifth grade autobiography that the 1966 accident was your own fault, then that should raise questions. I was so stunned by what she told me that I just wrote it down and tried to forget it. That was a mistake.

  47. If I could go back in time and rewrite that autobiography, I would gladly trade the A that I received for a C, by bringing up the questions of verifiable sources. If I had thought more carefully about what my mom had been telling me, I would have begun to ask more questions.

    I might have started to discover that she was hiding something through her self preserving bias, what I now know was her own negligence in 1966.

    This all reminds me of the immunity for killer cops that is just beginning to show signs of cracking.
    Negligence is different, of course, but legally it seems similar.

    The police unions are so strong and have protected negligent officers for many decades;
    And the network of my mom’s family and community friends are very similar in their protective strength, and these allies include the schools, the parents, the students, and the Board of Education, and the Superintendent.

    The superintendent at Indian Hill High School in the 1980s was Robert Boston, who was responsible for requesting that the cultish Scared Straight, Inc. a “helping” organization to scare students away from experimenting with drugs like marijuana, that used tactics that have been compared to would call paranoid overreaction is what I am getting in this conspiracy/ persecution.

  48. If you research Straight, Inc. (I think the Scared part of the name was implied—not the official name, but it gives you a clue as to what the organization was all about—terrorizing children to obey).

    Yes that Straight, Inc. which has been compared to North Korean brainwashing centers. So that should tell you a little about the culture of my old school, that our superintendent would recruit this brainwashing cult in order to remind the students who was in charge.

  49. By the way, I am quite certain that there was no consideration of open dialogue or restorative justice at Straight, Inc.

    It has taken me decades and a fairly recent story on this website about Straight, to learn the truth about what went on there. Because it was always shrouded in secrecy— but the name alone sounded ominous and we all understood that much.

  50. Sorry for the sloppy editing. From what I read, Superintendent Robert Boston invited Scared Straight to open another re-education center in the Cincinnati area around 1979-80. I believe that there were about five or six Straight centers running at various locations during their hay days, the eighties.

    There must have been some awareness at the board of education that what Straight was doing was abusive. Why then did they feel it was necessary to bring in a goon squad like Straight.?

    As I wrote before, I believe Straight evolved from the backlash to the strong youth movement that helped to end the war in Vietnam in 1974. I think it could be argued that the youth movement that ended the war had been more united and organized than the board of education of the recent past, and the new board of Ed did not want to see that happen again.

    In other words, it was a generational divide and a fight for control and power. So the Straight goon squad was outsourced in order to intimidate students to obey. In my opinion, this was never really about drugs at all, just as the War on Drugs was never really about drugs-it was about power and control of various people’s freedom and self determination.

  51. The Straight goon squad relied on recruiting students. So this kind of dynamic has always existed—
    People who understood that experimenting with drugs is natural and human—but then punishing and humiliating their friends for doing exactly that.

    Also, joining the Straight goon squad was an act of self preservation/ promotion. In other words, it was far better in their eyes to be the punisher than to be on the receiving end of the punishment. It was far better to be the brain washer than the brain washed…

    Again, it is unbelievable but true that Straight, Inc., a brain washing cult was sought out by the superintendent of one of the most prestigious public high schools in the country, Indian Hill High School, home of “the Braves” when I was there from 1979-1983.

  52. Straight was so obviously rotten, and yet it existed in various names for far too many years.

    And it was endorsed by the superintendent of the Board of Education at IHHS. Sheesh.

    I guess I should send kudos to the Cincinnati lawyers like John Schiff who called out Straight from the very beginning as the fraud that it was. That was commendable and brilliant because so many people were fooled by the hype—and parents did seem to be panicking and over reacting—and that is an understatement.

  53. Have the leaders of Straight ever expressed remorse for the damage that was done to hundreds and probably thousands of teenagers? Has Miller Newton, Ruth Ann Newton, or Mel Sembler ever made a public statement to acknowledge the damage that was done by subjecting children to months of brain washing that has been compared with North Korean re-education camps?

    Did the superintendent of schools for Indian Hill High School, Robert Boston, ever express regret for his monumental screw up in recruiting a brain washing cult to punish normal teenage behavior?

  54. Probably not, because Bobby Boston had the full support of a vindictive and deluded Board of Education. So how about those people who were propping up Bobby Boston, did any of them acknowledge or even go so far as apologizing to the families of children who had been tortured by Straight? Probably not.

  55. The people who should be held responsible have been insulated and protected by lawyers and tradition. The mistakes made by the board of education are not held up to scrutiny, because how in the world could they foresee the possibility that a punishing cult such as Straight would do damage?
    After all, Miller Newton seemed like a respectable person who was teaching children to respect their elders, right? How could that go wrong?

  56. Unfortunately, lawyers like John Schiff were in the minority. Schiff fought for the dignity and human rights of the individual students who were being abused by Straight.

    I think it is fair to say that Straight had the overall support of most of the legal community in Cincinnati, including some judges who ordered some students who escaped to be returned to the torture center.

    That was the problem then and it is still a problem: when there is public support for torture over the human rights and dignity of individuals. There has to be restorative justice. Those torture victims had a voice but they were silenced because of the political mood in the country—and rebellious teenagers were under attack.

  57. From my 1981 Legend yearbook, here is who was on the Indian Hill Board of Education: Mrs. Jean Papas, president; Mrs. Liz Croskey, Vice President; Mr. David Bell, Mr. Philip Casper, Mr. Buddy Mack.

    I am pretty sure that Buddy Mack was the grandfather of my classmate Elena Mack, who was made a scapegoat and was sent to Straight in Florida, before the Cincinnati torture center was set up. Elena definitely fit the bill as rebellious at times but she was very human, trying to figure out the world like all of us.

    Straight was so disruptive to people’s lives that Elana Mack was forced to be held back a grade. This was the granddaughter of one of the board of education members. Wow, and shame on the Board of Education. Shame on Jean Papas, shame on Liz Croskey, shame on David Bell, shame on Philip Casper, and finally shame on grandfather Buddy Mack.

  58. I should apologize to Elana for that comment. The only evidence I have for her rebellious behavior is my memory of her very thorough pounding of the piñata at one of my early birthday parties, even when it was on the ground. That must have been around 1970-72. She was actually a sweet friend.

  59. Straight filled a vacuum in America’s search for moral clarity in the 1980s.

    Parents viewed their children as either moral assets or moral liabilities.

    It was a disaster, and I would bet that Miller Newton and the other Straight leaders were surprised how willing parents were to hand over their children to his torture centers. They were deceiving themselves and anyone else who would buy into the idea that Straight was a legitimate organization that actually cared about teenager well being. It was a scandalous fraud and people interested in the truth know it.

  60. I honestly don’t know what the board knew and when they knew it, regarding Dr. Robert Boston bringing the “drug rehab” group Straight to Cincinnati. However, I am pretty sure that he must have been making reports about his involvement with Straight. Someone should have been paying more attention, because it became clear eventually that Straight was abusive and never had the student’s well being as a priority—the priority was making money off of these students and their families.

  61. All of the teenagers brought to Straight were scapegoats. They were examples for others, to be tortured psychologically, to be broken down. This was all very intentional—Miller Newton knew it, Dr. Robert Boston knew it, and I am pretty sure that some, if not all of the Board of Education members knew it.

  62. The 1970s American youth drug culture was seen by conservatives as a Political Threat—not some kind of public health emergency as Straight would have you believe.

    That is why the “cure” for this “problem” was modeled after North Korean political brainwashing.
    In other words it was all about punishment, shaming, and humiliation.

    When Nancy Reagan said Just Say No (to drugs), I think the real message was Just Say No to Political Activism because the conservatives just wanted to intimidate and beat those ideas out of young people.

  63. Nancy wanted the youth in America to Just Say No to Political Power, that was the secret translation.

    She was never about helping young people—she was always about supporting programs like Straight that disempowered them, that ridiculed them, that made them tear each other apart, almost literally…this was a conservative fantasy come true.

  64. Again, it seems important to emphasize that conservatives saw the youth movement as a political threat. Why? Because the youth movement in the 1970s was strong and effective in winding down the war in Vietnam.

    Again, the backlash that occurred in the 1980s was a response to the youth movement of the 1970s.
    The conservatives had lost control of the narrative and they were angry and vengeful. Yes, they were control freaks. I believe that torture centers like Straight were legitimized legally and politically because of this cultural backlash—and that backlash still exists today.

    The backlash to the youth moment of the 1970s can be seen today in our draconian systems of punishments such as the drug laws and the prison systems and the brutality of the police.

  65. I have to read up on the responsibilities of a school superintendent, but I am pretty sure that intimidation, brainwashing, torture, isolation, and beatings are not the normal expectations.

    Congratulations Dr. Robert Boston. You failed miserably.

    I actually spoke on the phone once with Dr. Boston when I was writing an article for the Chieftain, the high school newspaper, probably in 1982 or 1983. He apparently had been given a copy of an article I had written ( I don’t know how he got it, and I should have asked) but he made me make significant changes in the article—so much that I don’t think it made much sense in the end, that was as he intended…he was not kind, he was a dictator in my experience.

    I think the article was comparing the school attendance of Indian Hill High and Taft High school. Of course, Indian Hill high had much better attendance and Taft High, which is in the inner city, had poor attendance in comparison. I was trying to get at the reasons for this disparity, and it felt like Dr. Boston was distracting me from the obvious differences in income and budgets between the two schools.

  66. Note to self: stop commenting on MIA. Nothing beneficial has occurred despite hours of trying to explain my situation. There is no restorative justice here. When there is, I may be back.

    Human beings are social beings, and that is why this trap is so easy to fall into. Also, misery loves company, but there is no justice here.

    • Meh, “justice” is a big word. As far as I know, someone always loses when it comes to “justice”. Not sure
      if you ever tried this John, but I write stuff down in an email to myself, in a draft, then keep adding to it. I sometimes let it sit there for a long time, and I might go back and take some things out, or add. I might have a super long draft that I can still decide whether it is relevant to be sent anywhere.
      It’s almost like a journal, yet feels more real, because I have a send button if I need it.

      I need to do this more when responding to an MIA article lol.

  67. Ok, I didn’t mean that there is no social justice at all, but when you are being tortured it is difficult to see beyond your own situation.

    I was glad to read that there has been tremendous pushback by psych survivors to Kamala Harris’s disappointing mental health ideas.

    Also, I think there are small victories that don’t often get noticed, because there does seem to be worldwide awareness that government corruption is rampant and that said governments use psychiatry to punish people. So, I am not totally disappointed but I will try to limit my comments.

    • “but when you are being tortured it is difficult to see beyond your own situation.”

      I get that. My complaint to the Minister for Health regarding the enabling of ‘suss laws’ by our Chief Psychiatrist being totally ignored by any and all in authority. If it were police searching people going in to the football there would be an uproar over such human rights abuses. But here I have a letter from the Chief Psychiatrist where he rewrites the protections of “reasonable grounds” out of the law to enable people to be ‘spiked’, snatched from their beds, interrogated, and then force drugged based on nothing more than a suspicion and not a peep from a single person in my community. In fact they have openly slandered me for complaining.

      Personally I was of the belief that any changes to the law required a vote in parliament, not a letter of response to the Mental Health Law Centre (which they interestingly didn’t have time to read) changing the legal protection of “suspect on reasonable grounds” to “‘suspect’ on grounds we believe to be reasonable”. I would have thought that a first year law student would understand the difference but I have provided said letter to a Member of Parliament (who is also a lawyer) and she doesn’t have a problem with the two statements.

      Mind you I am suspicious myself given that all a Community Nurse needs to do is LIE to police regarding the status of a citizen (ie call them his “patient”) and police can then make a referral to him for an ‘assessment’ given that they “suspect on reasonable grounds” that the person they have detained is a person suffering from a mental illness. Oh wait, that person would need to be in police custody before they could actually make such a referral (a protection from doctors using police for kidnappings. Procuring person not suffering from a mental illness being a crime). Oh that’s easy to get around, plant items for police to make a lawful detention of the citizen. But ….. isn’t it dangerous to plant a knife on someone and then LIE to police and call the person a mental patient? Might they not shoot them? Meh, if they didn’t want the law perverted they wouldn’t have left such huge loopholes, and the Chief Psychiatrist wouldn’t pretend to not know what the protections of the law were. And anyway, we can arrange to ‘spike’ the person we wish to kidnap … i mean refer and treat, and that should minimise any risk to them of police shooting them for the knife. It also means we can use known torture methods and conceal that with “lawful sanction”, BONUS

      So police are being used by mental health services in my State to assist in the kidnapping of citizens, and the person charged with a duty to protect us doesn’t recognise that the laws do not actually allow this. He has thrown out the “reasonable grounds” standard that provides a protection to us all, and instead is enabling the completion of fraudulent and slanderous statutory declarations which he then denies any right to have contested regarding their validity.

      The ‘verbals’ being provided to conceal these kidnappings are considered reasonable grounds, and should you point out that the required “facts” could not possibly be facts or resobale, you are providing “justifiable explanations” for the “observed behaviours” (which could not possibly have occurred, but lets not let the truth get in the way of a kidnapping) and the statutory duty (mandatory reporting) to report these suspected kidnappings is no longer necessary. He never “suspects” and without any “reasonable grounds” (I assume that the same rewriting of the law applies to other legislation inconvenient to the C.P. ) there is no need to fulfill his statutory duty.

      No justice round here? There would be if there were anyone in authority with an ounce of respect for the law. But i’m afraid our Prime Minister was lying when he said Australians were a people who valued a Rule of Law. The Leader of the Government in the Upper House doesn’t even recognise the rights of citizens to not be tortured and kidnapped, because she also doesn’t recognise the “reasonable grounds” burden placed on mental health workers before they snatch citizens from their homes. I have an email from the Minister stating that the rewritten version of the Mental Heath Act, provided to me via the Mental Health Law Centre is “not a misrepresentation”. “suspect on reasonable grounds” versus “suspect on grounds we believe to be reasonable” are the exact same thing according to the Minister. My argument being that there is no need for s. 26 Criteria (the “reasonable grounds”) if the second version is true, and that whilst the first version can be tested in court using logic and reasoning, the second can not because it is a subjective interpretation and whatever the Community Nurse considers reasonable IS. Suss laws with consequences much more severe than a stop and search. You get drug fuked and incarcerated at random times because someone ‘suspected’ that you needed it. Not a doctor mind you, a Community Nurse who simply lied to the police to obtain a lawful referral. And not a soul will provide you any help once you have been slandered by these people. In fact police will now assist them is ensuring that you are fuking destroyed should you complain about being tortured and kidnapped. Sorry about the embarrassment of police ‘referring’ victims of organised criminals back to the organised criminals for ‘treatment’. You guys should get together more often and let the left hand know what the right hand is doing. (“might be best you don’t know about that” Senior Constable? Attempted murder and you are calling the people who committed the offence to come pick up the victim?)

      And the people here, and in lots of other places won’t even spare you the time to look johnchristine. I’ve offered the proof of what I am saying and have been ignored for years now. And thus I sit and wait to be snatched from my home AGAIN for speaking a truth that has been concealed with fraudulent documents provided to lawyers, and knowing that if it weren’t for another criminal within the system I would have been slaughtered in the Emergency Dept (A big thank you to the Chief Psychiatrist for at least checking that out. I understand why you have a need to conceal all the other ones, and the reason for the threats by police to people who did examine the documents and would be aware of what was actually going on. See Targeted Review of Emergency Dept Admissions and the number of unintentional negative outcomes recorded.)

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