Dainius Pūras is a medical doctor and human rights advocate. He is currently serving the final year of his term as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health. He is also a professor at Vilnius University, Lithuania, and the director of the Human Rights Monitoring Institute, an NGO based in Vilnius.

Pūras has been a human rights activist for 30 years involved in national, regional, and global activities that promote human rights-based policies and services, with a focus on mental health, child health, disabilities, and the prevention of violence and coercion. He was a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child from 2007 to 2011.

From the time he was appointed to the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2014, Pūras has pushed for a paradigm shift in mental health care. During his mandate, he has written several reports that emphasize the importance of the social determinants of health and criticize the dominance of the biomedical model and the medicalization of depression. While his work has occasionally been met with derision from some mainstream psychiatric institutions, he continues to bring attention to coercive practices and human rights violations and to call for greater investment in rights-based approaches to mental health care and suicide prevention.

In this interview, Pūras discusses his own journey as a psychiatrist, his decision to get involved in human rights work, his goals for his UN reports, and the future of rights-based mental health care.

The transcript below has been edited for length and clarity. Listen to the audio of the interview here.

Ana Florence: I want to start by talking a little bit about your career. How did you decide to become a psychiatrist?

Dainius Pūras: Oh, it’s going to be a long story. First of all, I decided to study medicine, and that was a controversial decision because I was hesitating to choose between the social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences. Somehow I felt that maybe medicine would be a two in one or three in one. Then when I started to study medicine, I immediately realized that just fixing body parts—diagnosing and repairing body parts—while very important, is not that interesting for me.

For me, medicine had the potential to be something more; something related to values and philosophy. This is how, in my third year, it became clear to me that I would choose psychiatry. Then the medical faculty at my university realized that they wanted to start doing child psychiatry, which they did not have before, and they offered me a position as an assistant professor in Adolescent Psychiatry. This is how I started my career. I never regretted it, but my relationship with the medical profession has always had some tensions.

 

Florence: Where did you practice when you started, what did your work look like?

Pūras: This was the early 80s of the last century and Lithuania was still occupied by the Soviet Union. During my first 10 years of medical practice, I was practicing a Soviet-type of psychiatry and child psychiatry. Maybe, in a paradoxical way, this helped me to become sensitive to human rights and to remain sensitive to human rights because it was quite a cynical school. The Soviet school of psychiatry had this idea that risk factors can only be in the brain because the game of the Cold War suggested that the Soviet Union had eradicated all possible psychosocial factors because they had defeated capitalism.

It may now seem strange to my Western colleagues, who were on the other side, but the Soviets played a cynical game, claiming that they do not have social problems so they never developed community services. They did not have social workers or even psychologists, and psychiatry and child psychiatry were quite brutal. Unfortunately, what I learned from my supervisors was how not to practice psychiatry. I respect them as human beings, they were good people, but they represented this theory and practice, which I promised myself to do everything to change.

This was the system that I really was allergic to and I can say that I hated these ideas. I was wondering why other people were okay with them. Because I had many colleagues who were saying, “This is the system, so we need to work and maybe minimize harm.” And I was saying, “No, we have to change the system!” This is how my rebellious ideas started. I later realized that these problems exist everywhere, and they’re global and they’re not just in my region.

In the early 90s, when all these peaceful revolutions took place in Eastern Europe, with democracy coming and the independence of occupied nations, I was happy to start to move to the realization of many of these ideas.  In the very beginning, I was working with children with intellectual disabilities, and this was actually the topic of my PhD. I knew very personally all of the families who had such children in the capital city of Lithuania.

So I did research. I was traveling to Moscow often. If you were doing research in the 80s in any other medical field, like cardiology or nephrology or infectious diseases, pediatrics, you could do it in the Lithuanian language, except psychiatry and child psychiatry. These were under ideological control because you could not touch upon social factors or psychological factors. You had to medicalize everything as much as possible to prove that social problems did not exist, but they did exist!

I was dreaming about changes where we could liberate, not only patients from this very ineffective and harmful system but also psychiatry as a field because psychiatry was a hostage of this ideology. Psychiatry was also, as we know, at that time, used for political purposes.

These people whom I met the families and children were actually my teachers. They were teaching me, let’s say, ethical psychiatry. What I realized later was that they were teaching me that if you take human rights out of psychiatry, then psychiatry becomes dangerous and toxic.

 

Florence: It seems that from early on you were very aware of the role of ideology in psychiatry. I’m wondering how that rebelliousness and, what you call, your allergy to that system influenced your work. What are the things that you were able to do to challenge the system?

Pūras: I was waiting for any opportunity because the Soviet system was a totalitarian system. You could not establish non–governmental organizations. It was a criminal activity. In 1989, when you could feel the winds of change, I initiated a parent’s organization.

In 1989, you could do everything, because it was finally democracy! And I invited all of these parents and told them “everything is in your hands.” You can now use democracy and learn from parents from other countries how to pressure governments so that your children live a dignified life.

First, they wanted to go to London and New York so that their children’s brains could be operated on because they were obsessed with biomedical thinking that taught that these children were just ill and somebody could cure them. But it only took maybe one year for parents to move to the model which we call now the social model or human rights-based approach.

They realized that their main goal was that their children live with dignity. Also, when the parents died, they did not want their adult children to move to horrible institutions, as happened in that part of the world.

I’m very proud that I initiated an organization called HOPE. It is one of the strongest of such associations in this part of the world. We are very good friends with these parents and the new generation of parents, and they are grateful. When they meet me, they say: “Are you still keeping your promise, are you telling the doctors to abandon the medical model?” and I say, “Yes, I am, and I’m doing this now globally.”

I also initiated the Child Development Center at the Vilnius University Hospital. I was the first president of the Lithuanian Psychiatric Association when we separated from the Soviet Union Psychiatric Association, and I was trying to initiate self–reflection, self–regulation, and modernization of the professional group of psychiatry.

 

Florence: It sounds like your work has been very impactful in people’s lives. To jump in time, could you tell us a little bit about how you became the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard physical and mental health?

Pūras: It is not possible to just become a Special Rapporteur and just jump into it from medical practice or from academic activities. It would be too difficult. What helped me was that some 10 years ago, between 2007 and 2011, I was elected to the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Rights of the Child. This is how I learned a lot about the UN machinery. Then, in 2014, I applied for the rapporteurship. Of course, I was happy to be appointed, and I decided that I would use these 30 years of my unique experience.

I knew that I would be rapporteur on the rights to physical and mental health. But, to contribute to parity and the non–discrimination of mental health, I said from the very beginning that I would allocate a lot of attention to mental health. Because the time has come for this. So for the past six years, I was doing a lot in the field of mental health.

 

Florence: Could you tell us what a day as a Special Rapporteur looks like?

Pūras: To be special rapporteur is not a job, it’s a pro–bono activity. You know that when you apply, so you cannot complain, and I never complained. I think that it’s a good idea because the main asset of a Special Rapporteur is independence.

The Special Rapporteur can think, speak, and write what he or she thinks as an independent expert, and this is our strength. But this, of course, makes life very difficult because you have to survive. You have to have another job. Before the pandemic, I was traveling between 25 and 30 times per year. Then when you are at home, you have to work on your reports, on communications that are sent to governments, and so on. This is very difficult to manage, but it is an extremely rewarding activity.

I think it’s important that you do not receive a salary from the UN because this means that you can also be critical also of the UN and of any government in the world. I am proud of the UN system and that governments have made a decision to have what is called the special procedures mechanism. This is a powerful mechanism that reminds the UN and the global community that a human rights-based approach is crucial for peace, security, development, and now for overcoming the pandemic.

 

Florence: You mentioned that writing reports is a big part of this work. Your reports emphasize the social determinants of health and mental health and point to the over-medicalization of mental health care around the world. Do you think that you helped put forth a new narrative to replace the old biological one?

Pūras: Well, I think it’s not for me to draw conclusions about the contributions of my mandate and my rapporteurship. I did my best to contribute to this process, which is meaningful, a process of change, hopefully. I visited all continents and had a lot of communications with many experts, including experts from experience, and users or ex-users of mental health services. I was very confident in formulating the main message, especially in my report to the Human Rights Council in 2017.

It’s not black and white. It’s not about denouncing the biomedical model, but my approach identified huge asymmetries and power imbalances in the field. Mental health care has gone wrong for several reasons but medical interventions were announced as if they were more effective than other interventions.

There are many other asymmetries and imbalances that make the status quo – which is exemplified, at the moment, by the movement for global mental health – not work. I have a lot of arguments in my reports.

I was not the first to criticize the biomedical model, but I used my position, and the fact that I am a medical doctor and psychiatrist myself, to diagnose the system. To highlight that such a system is ineffective. Some people told me that it’s too radical. No, I think what I’m most proud of is that I managed to stay firm on my principles and not be opportunistic.

In my reports, I made the message very clear that the global burden of obstacles is doing harm. The obstacles include the overuse of the biomedical model and biomedical interventions, power asymmetries, especially between psychiatrists and users of services, and the biased use of knowledge and evidence.

We have to consider the main principles on which mental health policies and services stand. This is how I think I contributed. Some people would tell you that the reports are polarizing. No, it’s not my reports that polarized the community of experts. The polarization existed before me.

Responses to my reports, especially the one from 2017, were either very positive or very critical. I don’t know how to explain this. There were experts who were writing angry letters to the UN that such reports and such rapporteurs should be disqualified. I think my messages were a test of where you stand and you think about these issues. I should confess that this was one of my goals.

 

Florence: Where did you find support in your work and where did you find the most resistance?

Pūras: There was a lot of support, especially from civil society. Wherever I go I meet people – communities of users of mental health services and non–medical mental health professionals – who are supportive of my messages. Also, a minority in the psychiatric community does the same.

When you go to some country, for example, Korea, Japan, Iceland, or Poland, you meet people and they say, “how did you know the situation with mental health care here in our country so well?” And I say, “Sorry, I don’t know. I did not visit there and I have not explored this country.” Then they say, “No, no, you must know it perfectly because what you wrote in your report exactly describes the situation in our country.” This was rewarding to hear because it signals that maybe I managed in my reports to capture a global failure characterized by this vicious helplessness, institutionalization, over-medicalization, and exclusion.

This is the system we have globally and, in the system, everybody is a hostage, including psychiatrists, not to speak about patients. I was not the first to say this, but I think it’s more serious when it comes from an independent expert, appointed by the United Nations with a background of being a medical doctor in psychiatry.

 

Florence: You mentioned the need to change systems and not just put more money into status quo systems that are fundamentally flawed. What are your thoughts about the World Health Organization (WHO) and its global mental health initiatives? Do you think that that is perhaps foisting Western biological ideas on developing countries?

Pūras: I was trying to formulate some ideas about these issues for my next report, which will come out soon. We have to understand that the WHO is part of the United Nations and the hosts of the UN and the hosts of the WHO are governments. So, it is easier for a Special Rapporteur, as an independent expert, to formulate messages as I did. I have a feeling that many people who have similar concerns cannot make such bold statements. An independent expert can say things in a more critical way than those within the WHO.

I would like to hear a more clear message from the WHO that the human rights-based approach should be fully embraced, and not in a selective way. However, I was happy to see the WHO quality rights initiative, which is really very progressive and paves the way for those who still do not believe that psychiatry and mental health care can exist without coercion.

The WHO has a list of essential medicines. It’s quite an old idea, and we know that you need antibiotics, you need antiretroviral treatment, etc. But this list of essential medicines also has a group of psychotropic medications. When I was going to countries on official visits and I asked officials, “How is mental health addressed here in your country”? They would say, “It is OK because the essential psychotropic medications are available.” But mental health care is not just about making essential psychotropic medications available, it’s much more than that.

Officials looking only at the list of essential medications from the WHO, would not see such things as essential psychosocial interventions. So, why not add this? Why not balance better biomedical interventions with other interventions that are as essential as medications, or maybe even more essential and more effective?

Overall, I’m quite happy with the cooperation from the WHO but I wish that the WHO would be more pro-human rights so that countries do not receive the message that the right to mental health is simply giving drug treatment to everyone. The right to mental health means that everyone can be free from violence and force, including in mental health settings.

 

Florence: We’re all looking forward to seeing the new report. You mentioned the pandemic a few times and I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit more about that. There has been some talk recently about the pandemic causing an epidemic of mental illness. This is a narrative that’s already emerging. How should we be thinking about the psychological stresses and stresses of poverty that people are experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Pūras: My maybe idealistic thinking is that we now have a new chance and a new argument to move towards rights-based mental health policies. With this pandemic, we should realize even more that the status quo is not effective. How long will millions of people with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities continue to stay in residential institutions? We know with the pandemic that these institutions are becoming even more dangerous because of contagion.

We have to do everything possible, globally, so that all people, all children and all adults with mental health conditions or without, can live at home. They do not have to live in some artificial institution, because it’s against dignity. They have a right not to be deprived of liberty.

Another issue is the so-called common mental health issues, which have been extremely medicalized by the status quo biomedical model. The effects of the social determinants of health and the effects of poverty were turned into psychiatric diagnostic categories. Now, with the pandemic, when millions of people are anxious and sad and lonely, are we going again to medicalize and pathologize? This will be a disaster.

Do we have a way out? Yes, we should use a lot of innovative ideas, but we have to abandon medicalized ways of addressing mental health conditions. I recommend thinking of systems of support and care for people instead of diagnosing them. I see this crisis as a unique opportunity to transform mental health services.

I was having a lot of conversations about this with representatives of the elite of global psychiatry because my messages were often interpreted as anti-psychiatric and as offending psychiatrists. Psychiatry is in crisis, especially biological psychiatry. We have to admit this and then can look for solutions on how to protect the image and reputation of psychiatry and mental health care.

During this pandemic, I don’t agree that there will be more “mental illness.” But there will be more people who are anxious, who are sad, and who suffer from uncertainty and unpredictability. Why do we qualify all of this as a mental illness?

Mental illness presupposes that something wrong happened in the brain and then that means that doctors have to come and fix this disorder. Then we reinforce again this vicious cycle of over-medicalization and power games and so on.

It’s high time and a good opportunity to rethink mental health care. The field is not to be demonized or blamed but psychiatry should be liberated from outdated approaches. It’s a hostage of the outdated legacy of coercion and over-medicalization.

 

Florence: This is a wonderful idea. Perhaps, in the midst of this tragedy, we can find an opportunity to make some changes. Could you tell us a little bit about what’s next for you after you mandate as rapporteur ends?

Pūras: I decided to position myself more as a representative of civil society. I was always doing a lot with NGOs and now I am the director of a small NGO, which is well known and has a good reputation. It’s a human rights monitoring institute in Lithuania. We enjoy that we are a democracy, but we want this democracy to be stronger and more mature, especially during this pandemic situation, which is a test for all democracies.

It is an interesting region, with a long legacy of that system that I talked about at the beginning of our conversation. Still, a lot of children and adults are in large residential institutions and large psychiatric hospitals. So this region desperately needs transformation and I am ready to commit to this.

We are planning good projects and creating networks, both with new countries and with neighboring countries like Ukraine and Georgia. I’m ready to use my experience for regional purposes, but at the same time, I will keep my attention on global policy. I will always be very much interested in the human rights situation globally.

We cannot expect that mental health settings will be an oasis of respect to human rights when all around the world there is no respect for human rights. This is why, for me, the main thing is that all countries are sensitive to creating enabling environments in all settings.

If we want to have better mental health, we need to look at what is happening in families, schools, workplaces, communities, and our society. Are we being tolerant? Are we protecting human rights principles? If yes, we can expect good mental health. Then we should apply the same standards to mental health settings. If we follow these principles, there is the way out of this crisis of mental health care, this crisis of psychiatry.

To continue and reiterate what I said in my reports, there is not a crisis of mental disorders, there is a crisis created by the burdens and obstacles that the system created. My contribution was modest. There are a lot of passionate people globally, a lot of committed people. If we join forces, and we are gradually doing this, there are many networks and I think that change can happen.

****

MIA Reports are supported, in part, by a grant from the Open Society Foundations

21 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you Ana and MIA for this blog.

    And a big thank you for Mr/Dr. Puras, for staying the course and not being too intimidated
    to say what you mean and mean what you say.

    This particularly stuck out
    “to contribute to parity and the non–discrimination of mental health..

    I noticed the word “discrimination” was used by Dr. Puras, instead of the untrue description of “stigma”

    I am so glad to see a psychiatrist use the proper term in regards to how clients experience and have to live life after what is called “treatment”.

    The fact he has some psychiatrists who are not fond of his questions and opinions, tells us a lot.

    How could any rational person in “healthcare”, not want his ideas? Why exactly?

    We sincerely hope that the WHO rethinks their stance and realizes that healthcare includes not causing harm.

  2. ” … there is not a crisis of mental disorders, there is a crisis created by the burdens and obstacles that the system created …”

    This has been building up since at least the 1980’s, and it’s not just limited to mental health. It’s the entire health system that’s in crisis.

    These days, if I visit a GP, they spend most of their time (upwards of 90% during a consultation, which is limited to at most 20 minutes) typing aggressively on a keyboard communicating with the “oracle”.

    Psychiatrists don’t have to consult an “oracle”, they don’t really need much of anything to diagnose or prescribe. It doesn’t really matter to them. It’s the wheel of (mis)fortune for the hapless subject.

    • SEVERE MENTAL ILLNESS FRAUD – AS HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE

      RESPONSE TO GP DELISTING LETTER:

      From: [Name Removed]

      To: Medical Newton (NHS CENTRAL LONDON (WESTMINSTER) CCG)

      Sent: Friday, 16 November 2018, 00:42:07 GMT
      Subject: Att. All Partners and Dr Baluch

      Dear Sirs/(Madams)

      In your Letter dated October 17 2018 – you seriously misrepresent me.

      TRUST
      My trust in Newton Medical was broken in October of 2012 when (to my horror) I discovered my name had been on a Severe Mental Illness Register since 2002. At this time (2002) I had been working as a Building Subcontractor in the House of Parliament Buildings (and can substantiate this).

      OCTOBER 8 2018 VISIT TO NEWTON MEDICAL. REGARDING HEALTH AND SAFETY ON BUILDING SITES
      On October 8 2018 I explained (and showed ) to the Reception Manager and to Dr Baluch at Newton Medical, that at my last appointment on July 20 2016 Dr Simons had given me in writing a sheet of paper from the Appointment Notes stating that – “he could see no reason that I could NOT work on a Building Site” . While at the same time Dr Simons had provided me with another sheet of paper from a “Legal Adviser” (July 20 2016)

      https://drive.google.com/file/d/1s-mEHH5pLC5EzWpxjnOLKcylQOTJ-Kvw/view?usp=drivesdk

      (which made reference to the historical 1986 Irish Record Summary) but also at the the bottom of the page stated – that I had a “Diagnosis of Schizophrenia…” and “had NOT DISPUTED this diagnosis..”.

      I explained on October 8 2018 that I had shown and discussed both of these contradictory statements received in July 20 2016 with a Building Health and Safety Officer who advised me to get this contradictory situation resolved – as the medical suggestions could undermine my credibility, and could affect me in the event of an accident on a Building Site.

      I have not suffered any disability in my 30 years in the UK; but Medical Claims of Present day Severe Mental Illness are invalidating. I presumed Newton Medical (promoting the disability) to be the first place to approach – this is why I called to the Surgery on October 8 2018.

      DISTRESS
      When I clearly demonstrated the Malpractice properties of the 1986 Irish Record Summary to Dr Simons in two interviews in October/November 2012 – at the end of both of these interviews Dr Simons shirt was completely saturated and sticking to his body (he was genuinely traumatised).
      But, there is no mention anywhere on my records of this Malpractice.

      MY BACKGROUND
      I made Full Recovery in 1984 as a Result of carefully tapering from the Modecate Depot Injection with the help of Practical Psychotherapy – and returned to normal life and independence.

      Recovered 1
      https://drive.google.com/file/d/1PW-wn9GOkiyWAbdzgXuC8cDS-7UPEj0-/view?usp=drivesdk

      Recovered 2
      https://drive.google.com/file/d/19xYpA4O4h9h45b_H2PtSBTNFx3ErE-MK/view?usp=drivesdk

      Adverse Drug Reaction Warning Request Letter sent to Galway Nov. 8 1986

      ADR Request ltr Pg 1
      https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0zhbh8V4MBAZlVTbHdBRDFFSHc/view?usp=drivesdk

      ADR Request ltr Pg 2
      https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0zhbh8V4MBAZ0otNjFyN0NJajA/view?usp=drivesdk

      ADR Request Ltr Pg 3
      https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0zhbh8V4MBAcExwMzhEMVRzdm8/view?usp=drivesdk

      MALPRACTICE:
      The Irish Record Summary dated November 24 1986 was Sent To UK In Response:- but WITHOUT Requested ADR WARNING

      Irish Record Summary Pg 1
      https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0zhbh8V4MBATlNoNTlpYy11X28/view?usp=drivesdk

      Irish Record Summary Pg 2
      https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0zhbh8V4MBAMmlqS18xQVZlcms/view?usp=drivesdk

      Wellness Presentation at Galway in November 1980, according to Dr Fadel https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0zhbh8V4MBANjBTZEtkbjBhMkU/view?usp=drivesdk

      Dr Donlon Kenny False Reasurrance Letter November 1986
      https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0zhbh8V4MBAeUFLam5rYmtXd3c/view?usp=drivesdk

      AKATHISIA.
      Near Fatal Modecate Experience 1. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1EY4XDLt04KgmCjg_5wXU-kbVezo_DxL4/view?usp=drivesdk

      Near Fatal Modecate Experience Pg 2
      https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YTWxPJTtNeTDM9eewkHoSUJr0WpBpu4b/view?usp=drivesdk

      Dr Allen Frances (DSM IV) 1983 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/16313058_Suicide_Associated_with_Akathisia_and_Depot_Fluphenazine_Treatment

      https://rxisk.org/akathisia/

      “…Significant symptoms of akathisia occur in:

      around 20% of people on an antidepressant.

      at least 50% of people on an antipsychotic. On higher doses, this rises to 80% or more..”

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akathisia

      “..Around half of people on antipsychotics develop the condition…”

      “…..Neuro-psychologist Dennis Staker had drug-induced akathisia for two days. His description of his experience was this:

      “..It was the worst feeling I have ever had in my entire life. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy…” ”

      Drug induced Akathisia is medically acknowledged to cause suicide.

      “Depot Antipsychotic Revisited Research Paper 1998” From Galway Psychiatrist Dr PA Carney.

      https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/ps.49.10.1361-b.

      About 4 out of 10 of the people on these drugs will attempt Suicide.

      I notice that both Dr Simon Gordon and Dr Balucha are on the GP Commissioning Governing Board.

      Yours Sincerely

      [Name Removed]

      • Fiachra

        “Severe Mental Illness Register since 2002”

        Do you have any further information about this register? And am I correct in assuming they (Newton) have listed you without even informing you (or your representative) that this had been done?

        I know in my case that when I sought a report from a psychiatrist for my workplace incident the lawyers made it clear to me that I had NOT been listed. What seems to have been done is that people wanted it to be that I was listed, acted as if I was, and then tried to ‘patch’ the holes post hoc.

        I have a theory about what the psychologist at the private clinic was trying to do, shuffle me sideways to her husband for a diagnosis (ie put me on the register you speak of) that suited the treatments he would make some dollars from, knowing I had some money from the claim. Nothing like checking someones wallet before banging them over the head with ECTs and taking their money.

        Of course a big problem that I can prove I wasn’t a “patient” though they ‘treated’ me as one. Amazing that what does constitute torture becomes medicine with a change of status. And being able to change that status and list people without them being informed? No doubt that would be a clear breach of human rights, not that they ever act on any of them (talk, talk, talk while the showers are delousing). One can’t even get an acknowledgement of complaints, lest their negligence and dereliction of duty be noted.

        Thanks

  3. Wonderful interview; very eye-opening.

    What he says about the Soviet Union –it promoted bio-psychiatry because “there are no social problems in our great nation!” –reminds me of the United States and the myth of exceptionalism. I think something similar is going on here: “America is a land of opportunity, a land of plenty! We have no social problems, so if you’re unhappy you must have a chemical imbalance.”

    • I think they admit we have a social problem. What they do, is blame it on “mental illness”, thus
      it becomes an individual problem. And conveniently, it often appears that way, it appears to be that individual.

      All dastardly failings, causes are hidden behind diversions, the individuals made to carry not just their load, but ultimately, the load of society.

      All animal problems which are behavioral can be solved by inclusion and environment changes.

      No rat or dog benefits from talk therapy or chemical changes. The problem is, it is changing the root causes, the unhelpful environments.. no one wants to invest the time nor resources.

      People think that “quality therapy” is the answer to psychiatry.
      It’s not. Not without the environmental change.
      Therapy only works alongside a canoe trip.

      I wish I had known long ago. I wish children were taught early on by wise teachers. Wisdom is sorely lacking.

      Sure there are developmental differences which will bump into a mainstreamed model. Neurology makes the mistake of sending all it’s unidentified or identified problems to psych.

      It sure sounds like Dr. Puris has gone above and beyond. Not a lazy psychiatrist.
      He must feel good about his position, his character.
      I believe he did his best considering the environment he is in.

  4. Dr. Puras did great community service through the UN but I do not understand how it could be described as “Bringing Human Rights to ‘Mental Health’ Care.” The UN Declaration of Human Rights clearly states that it is a Human Right for people to have “freedom to make sense of experiences in their own way.” I do not understand human rights in any “mental health” care that accepts “coercive treatments”; Dr. Puras does not seem to address this fundamental human rights violation.

    • When psychiatry themselves has to go and appeal for “human rights”, against it’s own system, it should be revealing to the public, especially those who are the great believers in “Mental illness”.
      It should be revealing to the WHO.
      The WHO however is scared of psychiatry. Most people are. Why is that? Why are people scared of “mental health care”?
      And THAT is where psychiatry comes and explains to the public that it is the “stigma”.

      And the WHO, sitting on the fence, gives just a smidge, a feel good talk, patronizing those who want to see change.

      NO ONE should have to beg or ask for “human rights” within health care.

      Isn’t having to ask for it the great exposer? It should be simple to see that we have to abolish any system where people have to ask for kindness and allowances.

      The ONLY reason psychiatry exists is because they have no clue what to do about those weeds that prevent the wheat from growing.
      Psychiatry is nothing more than a weedkiller, which affects the whole ecosystem.

      • When psychiatry themselves has to go and appeal for “human rights”, against it’s own system, it should be revealing to the public, especially those who are the great believers in “Mental illness”.

        Sort of like the mayor of Minneapolis?

        • I’m liking civilian unrest more and more.
          Of course, if really pressed, politicians decide they better arrest ONE of their criminals. Make it look good.
          But I doubt that is working that well anymore. I know it appears to, but people keep score lately.

  5. United Nations Special Rapporteur Dainius Puras ,
    “The field is not to be demonized or blamed but psychiatry should be liberated from outdated approaches.”
    More to the point ,
    By prioritizing greed ,seeking a place to exercise absolute power over others , and approval from the global elite, psychiatry has demonized itself . Forcing , the pharmaceutical cartel’s array of torturous toxic concoctions ( chemical, biological, electrical ,etc.) into the blood streams of human beings of all ages , is robbery ,slavery , brain and other damage , sterilization and/or death , under the guise of “health care “, all supported by the global elite’s deadly totalitarian medical-government total disregard for the well being , and human rights of virtually the entire human population. This is a grave danger to the survival of humanity. Crimes against humanity have been committed and are accelerating.

  6. “You had to medicalize everything as much as possible to prove that social problems did not exist, but they did exist!”

    “What I realized later was that they were teaching me that if you take human rights out of psychiatry, then psychiatry becomes dangerous and toxic.”

    Deadly in fact.

    So from your first statement I quote there, it would seem that my government in Australia has learned something from the old Soviet system. Everything is being medicalized and then things that couldn’t be done to citizens, eg torture and kidnapping and we’ll to use the ‘softer term’ preferred by our Chief Psychiatrist, unintentional negative outcomes. The Mental Health Act has become a means to destroy any and all human and civil rights we had.

    And I do hope that in the end that the second statement is the reason that few people want to become psychiatrists these days precisely because they do not wish to be in a toxic and dangerous environment. Making people sick and then claiming to be the cure is hardly the pinnacle of medical care.

    I’d have liked to have asked a question which no one (and I mean no one) in my country can answer. How does one go about reporting the use of torture by public officers? (other than reporting the torture to the torturers only to be told you will be ‘fuking destroyed’ for having the proof) In an interesting twist the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights published an article saying the govenrnment is attempting to pass laws to make it unlawful to report torture to anyone BUT the torturers (anyone but me see a problem there?)

    I get it that my government has signed the Convention against the use of Torture (et al), but they have simply ensured there is no right to remedy, and instead label it a mental illness to complain and ‘treat’ you with negative outcoming. (see the reply from our Minister for Health. This despite me knowing he has been provided with the absolute proof of the torture)

    Silly me thinking that the citizens I share this space with were also offended by the use of torture by mental health professionals, they’re not. Or at least they’re too afraid to say so. Given that police will retrieve the proof of the use of known torture methods and then turn a blind eye while doctor sorts the little problem out.

    So, I’ve asked for 10 years people such as our lawmakers as to how this Convention works, and whilst they thought I didn’t have the proof they slandered me. Now they know I still have the proof (and the subsequent fraudulent documents dictributed to human roights lawyers who assisted in concealing human rights abuses) they simply ignore me. I understand this of course, what does one do when confronted with the truth when the lie is what you prefer?

    I’m sure that some day my young country will look back and consider these times of trouble, where we destroyed a whole culture deliberately and then eventually said “Sorry” with an empty heart. We can then use the latest technologies to ensure our children don’t know the truth about what we did, as our shame is poured over us in our graves. Heroes of our times? Sychophants and cowards more like it, taking oaths as a cover for the vicious human rights abuses we’re prepared to stand by and watch.

    The other thing I would mention is that the UN came out and stated that Australias Mental Health Laws WERE a violation of human rights and that the treaments MAY constitute torture back in 2010 (?). They took that opportunity to pass new Mental Health Acts and have made the situation much worse, depending on whether you are the abuser or the abused of course. Our politicians were well prepared for the changes and were parroting the line “There are added protections” but not mentioning who the beneficiaries of those protections were, and let me say they weren’t the “consumers”. It did provide legal protections for doctors giving ECTs to children so I guess our pollies weren’t actually lying about the protections.

    They still ARE a violation of human rights but at least the government took the time to invalidate your report. That’s got to be worth something. Anyone pointing to your work can now be told, ah yes but we updated the laws with added protections 🙂

    So in Australia making a valid complaint about the government is now medicalized and you are treated for it via the use of force. Sounds a lot like the old Soviet system to me. I live in a Delusional (not Constitutional) Democracy lol

    • This comment from a man snatched from his bed by police after being ‘spiked’ with benzodiazepines to enable the planting of a knife to overcome the legal protections I am afforded by our laws. Police then hand one over to a Community Nurse who makes up a mental illness on the spot that requires assessment and despite a legal protection that he should refer to my doctor (a problem because I didn’t have one) he can then send me to whatever doctor has requested him to do the kidnapping.

      The combining of the “spiking” with benzos and the “acute stress reaction” being the act of torture.

      Two DO NOTS of “acute stress reaction”? DO NOT prescribe benzos, and DO NOT force the person to talk. Clever to conceal the drugging (via acquiescence) and then use the cover of “inherent in or incidental to lawful sanction” to enable torture methods for our police and mental health professionals don’t you think?

      7 hours of interrogation whilst spiked with intoxicating stupefying drugs, never informed and then released to drive a motor vehicle at high speeds. I fail to see how anyone would not consider this at least ‘offensive’. Unfortunately police can’t seem to find their copy of the Criminal Code so the crimes go undetected, which is fortunate because someone might have some questions about their part in the interrogation of me (documented by the Community Nurse).

      Yes, my government is working really hard to ensure the safety of it’s citizens. They are finding that committing acts of fraud are highly convenient in ensuring their evil conduct remains undetected and their good reputation is maintained despite the fact they find torture necessary. And ‘we’ point fingers at other Nations?

  7. Thanks Ana for this report. I highly commend Dr. Dainus Puras for taking on this pro-bono service and as a psychiatrist using this platform to speak out against human rights abuses and oppression in psychiatry. However when psychiatry chooses to remain willfully blind to the oppression and grave harm they are doing to so many how can they not be blamed.

  8. This guy is obviously a man of good intentions.
    He saw what one form of totalitarian rule was doing to so many people with ordinary problems.
    Our system in the U.S. seems so different – yet the psychiatric practices are so similar.
    From this we can perhaps infer or realize that the problem of “mental health” goes beyond the problems of the various economic and social systems different nations have adopted. It signals a higher level of common experience and community.
    “Human rights” is a valuable idea. But it is essentially a legal idea. It does not really speak to the higher common experience, except in an indirect sort of way. Law and the legal context is a very agreed-on thing on this planet. Thus, we work through law and human rights concepts to limit the damage done by the ignorant and the insane who wish to call themselves “healers.”
    But that doesn’t get us real healing, except to the extent that being left alone can heal, which it sometimes can. Without a better understanding of the human condition, better ways to heal ourselves from it won’t be possible.
    Yet, I must honor this man. He has pointed us in a saner direction.

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