Say not the struggle nought availeth,
The labour and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
And as things have been, they remain.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
[But] not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light,
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly,
But westward, look, the land is bright.
(“Say not the struggle nought availeth”, by Arthur Hugh Clough, 1848)
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On November 14, 2020, a regular reader and commenter on my posts, who uses the handle registeredforthissite, posted a comment which ended with this:
“When people end up suffering due to psychiatry, they end up here, but it’s still a niche minority.
Also, I’ve noticed for the last many years, it’s the same old commenters (including myself) who post here. Lots of comments. But very few commenters. Hardly a drop in a massive ocean.
Compare this to psychiatry sites which have memberships in the thousands, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands.
You’re drowned out.”
Similar sentiments were expressed by Yulia Mikhailova in a recent excellent article on MIA.
I’ve been giving this comment and Ms. Mikhailova’s article a great deal of thought, primarily because my own perspective on the anti-psychiatry movement is quite different.
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When I started writing these posts over eleven years ago, I had imagined that I would work on these topics for a year or so; that in that time I would write 20 or 30 posts; that I would attract about 20 or 30 readers, half of whom would hate me, and half would be supportive; and that then I would move on to other topics that interest me.
Obviously, things didn’t go as planned. In the past eleven years, I have written 560 posts, containing well over a million words. My posts are routinely read by two to three thousand followers on my own site, and presumably a good many more on Mad in America.
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The general point I am making here is that although Ms. Mikhailova’s and registeredforthissite’s observations are factually accurate, I remain entirely optimistic about the future of the anti-psychiatry movement.
WE ARE WINNING THIS BATTLE.
And I use the word battle with no apologies or misgivings. Psychiatry has been utterly unreceptive to the concerns of our movement. In fact, the primary response of the APA has been to hire a PR company to spruce up their image! while condoning, and indeed promoting, the spurious medicalization of virtually every problematic thought, feeling, and behavior and the routine prescribing of neurotoxic drugs and high-voltage electric shocks to “correct” these “medical” problems.
Another facet of the matter that contributes to my optimism is the sheer number of people who have come to identify themselves as anti-psychiatry. When I started writing these posts, I searched the Internet fairly thoroughly but could find only a handful of anti-psychiatry bloggers. Today we can be found in every corner of the blogosphere.
We are not an organized entity, but we are vocal, committed, and persistent, and our numbers grow by the day. Some of us have worked in the system and have come to see its central concepts as flawed and destructive. But most have come from the ranks of those individuals who have been harmed or damaged by psychiatry’s stigmatizing labels, neurotoxic drugs, and electric shocks. These individuals had been effectively silenced for decades by the psychiatric deception that their “treatment resistance” stemmed essentially from the severity of their “illness”; their “non-compliance” with “treatment”; or from their own lack of motivation, rather than from any deficiency in the system or from the toxicity of the “treatments”.
It occurred to me that this might be a good time to identify a list of some of the important turning points in our struggle, as well as available resources. Many of these are well-known, others less so.
I realize that some of the individuals and groups listed below don’t identify themselves as anti-psychiatry. And, of course, I respect this. But it is nevertheless true that people who throw pebbles into ponds are – ipso facto – water-ripplers. Similarly, people who speak out against psychiatry are having an anti-psychiatry effect, and are inspiring others.
So here’s my list of the people and incidents that have played a key role in this movement. It’s by no means complete or in any special order. I encourage readers to use the comments section to add items that have significance/importance for them.
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Electric Shock: Its Brain-Disabling Effects (1979) and Psychiatric Drugs: Hazards to the Brain (1983), among other publications, by Peter Breggin MD.
Prozac Backlash, 2001, by Joseph Glenmullen, MD.
Exposure of the ghostwritten textbook by Charles Nemeroff, MD and Alan Schatzberg, MD. According to a November 2010 New York Times article, Drug Maker Hired Writing Company for Doctors’ Book, Documents Say, documents say the book was actually written by a writing company hired by the pharmaceutical company SmithKline Beecham:
“Two prominent authors of a 1999 book teaching family doctors how to treat psychiatric disorders provided acknowledgment in the preface for an ‘unrestricted educational grant’ from a major pharmaceutical company.
But the drug maker, then known as SmithKline Beecham, actually had much more involvement than the book described, newly disclosed documents show. The grant paid for a writing company to develop the outline and text for the two named authors, the documents show, and then the writing company said it planned to show three drafts directly to the pharmaceutical company for comments and proposed a timeline for the writing company to furnish the doctors and SmithKline with draft text and final page proofs for approval.”
Creation of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act in 2008 which required pharma companies to divulge payments they have made to physicians. There is now a government site, OpenPaymentsData, where one can enter a doctor’s or hospital’s name to gain access to this information. ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs is a similar site.
Unhinged: The Trouble with Psychiatry – A Doctor’s Revelations about a Profession in Crisis (2010) by Daniel Carlat, MD, which gave insight into the “thought leader” system. Dr. Carlat was interviewed about this on NPR in 2010.
Mad In America continues to grow by leaps and bounds. In 2020 they had 3.7 million visitors to their site, and their global affiliates, outside the US, had about 1.1 million visitors. The site continues to publish an interesting and compelling mix of science reviews, blogs, personal stories, original journalism pieces (MIA Reports) and podcasts, with two or three new pieces posted each day.
There are so many good bloggers on MIA that it is impossible to mention them all. They include psychiatry survivors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, bioethicists, free lance journalists, and others.
Diagnosisgate: Conflict of Interest at the Top of the Psychiatric Apparatus, by Paula Caplan, PhD. Paula Caplan’s indictment of Allen Frances, MD, for his paid role in the promotion of risperidone in 1995.
The books Mad in America (2001) and Anatomy of an Epidemic (2010) by Robert Whitaker.
Movement in the UK to create a government body to study addiction to prescription drugs, which led to the production of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence Report. An important research article on this topic is the 2019 A systematic review into the incidence, severity and duration of antidepressant withdrawal effects: Are guidelines evidence-based?, by James Davies, PhD and John Read, PhD.
The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct, by Thomas Szasz (1962)
Over the years I have read many good books on the subjects covered by our movement. There have been too many to list here individually, but by clicking on the Books Worth Reading tag on the right side of my website, a long list of book review posts appears. For health reasons I finally had to stop doing book reviews, so the most recent review is in 2017. Many more exceptional books have been published since that time.
Monica Cassini’s Beyond Meds, which was one of the first blog sites I discovered when I started my website.
Bonnie Burstow Scholarship in Antipsychiatry, set up in 2016 by Canadian psychotherapist and anti-psychiatry scholar Bonnie Burstow, PhD, who died in January 2020.
The many blog posts and books by psychologist Jay Joseph, PsyD, on the spurious nature of “genetic” research in psychiatry, in particular, twin studies.
The 2002 article It’s all done with smoke and mirrors. Or, how to create the illusion of a schizophrenic brain disease, by British psychologist Mary Boyle, PhD, which I read when it was published, and came across again recently on Jay Joseph’s twitter site.
The chapter The Concept of Mental Illness, in Stickley & Bassett 2008, by British psychologist Anne Cooke, PhD, is one of the classic pieces in this field.
The various, and patently futile, attempts by Ronald Pies, MD, to support his inane, pro-psychiatry claims, which I have critiqued here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
David Oaks and MindFreedom.
The Internet and social media sites have been a great addition to our tools. I communicate with people in various countries around the globe. With my own social media accounts I have over 5000 followers. Then consider the number of people who read other bloggers’ sites, and the Mad in America site. The Internet has greatly increased our ability to communicate with like-minded people, and especially to bring survivors together. I know of at least ten Facebook groups that deal with anti-psychiatry and survivor issues, some of which are:
Let’s Talk Withdrawal; Letters from Generation Rx; Murder & Suicide by Prescription; ‘Drop the disorder!’; Speak Out Against Psychiatry; Professionals Critical of Psychiatry; Philosophy, Psychology and Politics. Some of these groups are private (membership by invitation only), and others are open to the public.
I am sure there are many other social media groups of which I am unaware.
AntiDepAware, a site written and maintained by Brian, that promotes awareness of the dangers of antidepressants, particularly the danger of suicide.
Rob Wipond, independent investigative journalist, as well as MIA author, who is currently writing a book about people’s experiences of psychiatric power and forced psychiatric interventions.
Anti-psychiatry cartoonist and blogger Auntie Psychiatry, who also wrote a book with her cartoons, titled: Of Course I’m Anti-Psychiatry, Aren’t You.
Article on stigma by Brett Deacon, PhD, The biomedical model of mental disorder: A critical analysis of its validity, utility, and effects on psychotherapy research (2013). “But despite the public’s increasing endorsement of biological causes and treatments, stigma has not improved and shows signs of worsening.”
Madness Explained (2003) and Doctoring the Mind (2009), by Richard Bentall, FBA, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Sheffield. The following is a quote from the back cover of Madness Explained:
“We need, Bentall argues, a radically new way of thinking about psychiatric problems – one that does not reduce madness to brain chemistry, but understands and accepts it as part of human nature.”
Models of Madness (2004), edited by John Read, Loren R. Mosher, and Richard Bentall. From the back cover:
“Models of Madness shows that hallucinations and delusions are understandable reactions to life events and circumstances rather than symptoms of a supposed genetic predisposition or biological disturbance.”
The late Loren Mosher, MD, psychiatrist, resigned from the American Psychiatric Association in 1998. His letter of resignation can be read here.
There are online sites that make searching for journal articles easier for people around the world. Two that I use here in the US are:
PubMed – “a free resource supporting the search and retrieval of biomedical and life sciences literature with the aim of improving health–both globally and personally.
The PubMed database contains more than 30 million citations and abstracts of biomedical literature. It does not include full-text journal articles; however, links to the full text are often present when available from other sources, such as the publisher’s website or PubMed Central.”
PubMed Central, “…is a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of health’s national Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM)”
If I can’t find articles that I need, or if they are too old to be online, I go to my local university library, which is open to the public and also a good place for browsing.
1 Boring Old Man, the blog site of the late John “Mickey” Nardo, MD. Mickey’s posts were always full of interesting and useful information. Mickey died in February 2017.
Professor Peter C. Gøtzsche, MD, Danish physician and medical researcher, who is outspoken on the need to preserve honesty and integrity in science. His Mad in America author page is here.
The Myth of the Chemical Cure (2008) by British psychiatrist Joanna Moncrieff. More of her work can be found here.
A Psychological Approach to Abnormal Behavior (1975), by the late psychologists Leonard Ullmann, PhD, and Leonard Krasner, PhD. Also Blaming the Brain (1998), by Elliot S. Valenstein, PhD, professor emeritus of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Michigan. These books have been two of my main resources for years.
The akathisia foundation MISSD. “MISSD (The Medication-Induced Suicide Prevention and Education Foundation in Memory of Stewart Dolin) is a unique non-profit organization dedicated to honoring the memory of Stewart and other victims of akathisia by raising awareness and educating the public about the dangers of akathisia.”
Multiple movements to investigate/stop the use of electric shocks to the brain, including this study by John Read, PhD, Irving Kirsch, PhD, and Laura McGrath, PhD. If you do a browser search for “UK + ECT investigation 2020” you will find that there was a good deal of media coverage on the topic. One of the people involved in this movement is Mary Maddock, a survivor of electric shock “treatment” and co-founder of MindFreedom Ireland.
Mad in America author Lawrence Kelmenson, MD, psychiatrist, whose author page is here.
Daniel Johnson, MD, psychiatrist, apologizes to his clients here.
Paul Minot, MD, psychiatrist, whose website straight talk about psychiatry includes A Poem: “I Went to a Psychiatrist”, and the article Psychiatry’s Inconvenient Truth: We’re Not Saving Lives.
Gwen Olsen’s 2009 book Confessions of an Rx Drug Pusher, which exposed the marketing tactics of pharma with regards to captive audiences (e.g., people in group homes, nursing homes, etc.).
Citizens Commission on Human Rights, Scientology.org. Despite widespread criticism of its activities in other areas, it needs to be acknowledged that CCHR has been at the forefront in challenging the principles and practices of psychiatry. Although it is often stated that I must be a member of CCHR, this is not the case.
So many other fellow anti-psychiatry bloggers that I lose track of their numbers. Every time I think I have completed this list, more writers, campaigners, vocal survivors, and websites come to mind. So I have to call a halt, and turn this over to my readers.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I invite readers to identify other individuals, groups, or sites that have contributed to the anti-psychiatry movement.
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.