Anti-Psychiatry, Szasz, Torrey, Biederman & the Death of Freethinking


In contemporary U.S. society, financial conflicts of interest, flip-flopping, belittling, and arrogance are no drawbacks to becoming a powerful authority—this is true today not only for national leaders but for influential psychiatry authorities (discussed later).

Illegitimate authorities are often embraced when fear subverts critical thinking. Americans appear to be increasingly terrified by the possibility of ostracism, including ostracism for failing to conform to psychiatry dogma. This fear subverts critical thinking and freethinking, and results in boring discourse, which includes boring discourse in psychiatry.

Prior to the current era, in a less fear-based society, it was possible for a handful of freethinking, thought-provoking psychiatrists to become well-known and influential.

Thomas Szasz: Anti-Psychiatrist or Anti-Coercion?

The freethinking psychiatrist Thomas Szasz (1920-2012), well-known and highly influential in the 1960s and 1970s, became increasingly unknown and marginalized as psychiatry began partnering with Big Pharma and capable of effectively ostracizing its critics. Szasz was thought-provoking precisely because he cared only about his philosophical integrity. He was unafraid of offending any camp—be that camp “pro-psychiatry” or “anti-psychiatry.”

Throughout his career and following his death, Szasz has often been labeled as an anti-psychiatrist despite the fact that he was always adamant about rejecting that label. In 2009, three years prior to his death at age ninety-two, journalist Natasha Mitchell asked Szasz, “Would you describe yourself as an anti-psychiatrist?”

Szasz responded: “Of course not. Anti-psychiatrist sounds like anti-Semite, or anti-Christian or even anti-religion. I’m not anti-religion, I just don’t believe in it. Anybody who wants to have their religion is fine. Anybody who wants to go to a psychiatrist is fine. Anyone who wants to take psychiat­ric drugs is fine with me. That’s why ‘anti-psychiatrist’ is completely inaccu­rate. I’m no more anti-psychiatry than pro-psychiatry. I am for freedom and responsibility.”

Szasz was a libertarian, and his Faith in Freedom: Libertarian Principles and Psychiatric Practices (2004) states: “The libertarian philosophy of freedom is characterized by two fundamental beliefs: the right to be left alone and the duty to leave others alone.”  Szasz opposed the use of psychiatry to forcibly treat and detain, as this undermined the human right to freedom; but he also opposed the use of psychiatry to provide excuses for behaviors as, he believed, this undermined moral responsibility.

Szasz remained consistent in his beliefs throughout his career. He rejected the “anti-psychiatry” label because he believed that people had a right to believe in whatever they wanted to believe—be it facts, delusions, science, or psychiatry.

Genuine freethinkers such as Szasz, in contrast to dogmatists, invite challenges, which Szasz did throughout his life—in print and in discussions. Szasz was routinely challenged about his idea that mental illness is a myth or a metaphor. Not only did he respectfully respond to these challenges, but appears to have enjoyed the opportunity for dialogue.

Szasz provokes several questions for me:

If, as David Cohen observed (“It’s the Coercion, Stupid!”), the institution of psychiatry’s “coercive function is what society and most people actually appreciate most about psychiatry,” then given Szasz’s unequivocal opposition to coercion, would he make a distinction between anti-the belief system of psychiatry vs. anti-the institution of psychiatry?

While I have not read everything Szasz has written, it appears that his brand of libertarianism is the standard American variety, one that does not challenge the coercive nature of corporate capitalism, and this provokes other questions for me: The “libertarian-socialist” (anarchist) Mikhail Bakunin said, “Freedom without socialism is privilege and injustice; socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality”—what would Szasz’s reaction be to that? And the democratic-socialist Erich Fromm’s position was that corporate capitalism could be as coercive as totalitarian communism, concluding that in both such societies, “Everybody is a cog in the ma­chine, and has to function smoothly”—what would Szasz say about that?

Szasz provokes another question for me. He made clear, “I don’t believe in Scientology. . . . I no more believe in their religion or their beliefs than I believe in the beliefs of any other religion.” However, because Scientology’s Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) opposed involuntary psychiat­ric treatments, Szasz served on CCHR’s Board of Advisors as Founding Commissioner. Regarding this, my question for Szasz is one about political wisdom: Would he now see how that even though he publicly rejected the belief system of Scientology, his association with CCHR would be used to discredit his criticism of psychiatry?

Perhaps, somewhere Szasz did respond to these questions; but if not, given his history, I’m sure that such questions would have resulted in a respectful and enjoyable dialogue.

E. Fuller Torrey: Flip-Flopper and Ridiculer

Because Szasz was authentic in his quest for philosophical integrity and truth, he provoked questions and dialogue. In contrast is E. Fuller Torrey, the founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center and one of the most influential psychiatrists in the United States. Because of Torrey’s flip-flopping and his ridiculing of others who retain positions that he has since abandoned, he provokes neither questions nor dialogue—at least from me—but rather fight or flight.

Today, Torrey is considered as perhaps the most prominent advocate of forced psychiatric treatment, including so-called “assisted outpatient treatment” (AOT) court-ordered treatment to ensure treatment compliance. However, this current advocacy is a monumental flip-flop.

In 1974, in a more anti-authoritarian era in which it was mainstream to confront the authoritarianism of psychiatry (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1975), Torrey published The Death of Psychiatry, which was highly critical of psychiatric coercion.

In The Death of Psychiatry, Torrey, then a big fan of Szasz, stated, “As Szasz points out, a drunken driver is infinitely more dangerous to others than is a ‘paranoid schizophrenic,’ yet we allow most of the former to remain free while we incarcerate most of the latter.” Torrey informs us that studies of psychiatric patients following their discharge “have almost unanimously shown a lower arrest rate than that of the general population,” and he details two such studies.

Included on the back cover of The Death of Psychiatry is a blurb from Szasz praising it: “Dr. Torrey presents a reasoned review of the mythology of mental illness and the persecutory practices of psychiatry. . . . His work should help to make psychiatric barbarities couched in the idiom and imagery of medical care morally more distasteful and hence politically less useful.”

After The Death of Psychiatry was published, Szasz reports, “Torrey presented me with an inscribed copy. The inscription reads, ‘To Tom, with many thanks for saying nice things about the book. If it has 1/10th the effect which your books have had, I shall be happy. Fuller.’”

However, by 1986 in a more authoritarian American society, Torrey completely changed his tune about Szasz, as he flip-flopped from adulation to ridicule, stating:  “Thomas Szasz is an anachronism, the Studebaker of American psychiatry.”

In a fear-based society, flip-flopping and belittling are no impediments to becoming an influential American psychiatrist, just as flip-flopping and belittling are not impediments to becoming influential in other spokes of the societal wheel, including becoming a U.S. president, one example being Donald Trump (Trump has had demeaning nicknames for all of his opponents, both Republican and Democrat ones; and he has flip-flopped for political expedience on major issues, for example, abortion, declaring in 1999, “I am Very Pro-Choice,” but then, in 2015, in order to win the Republican nomination, flip-flopped to, “I’m Pro-Life”).

Joseph Biederman: Financial Conflicts of Interest and Arrogance

Another symptom of a fear-based society absent of critical-thinking is its incapacity to distinguish between confidence and arrogance, and so people are attracted to arrogance, even if it is of the cartoonish variety. Returning to Trump, as a candidate in 2016, he famously bragged, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody . . . and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Such arrogance, at least for many Americans, appears to be confidence.

A parallel to Trump with respect to arrogance is psychiatrist Joseph Biederman, one of the most influential psychiatrists in the world, especially with respect to the popularizing of the pediatric bipolar diagnosis for children and adolescents.

In 2008, Biederman was exposed by Congressional investigators for taking $1.6 million from drug makers from 2000 to 2007; and the New York Times also reported that Biederman had told Johnson & Johnson that his proposed research studies on its antipsychotic drug Risperdal would turn out favorably for Johnson & Johnson—and such studies did in fact turn out favorably.

In a February 26, 2009 deposition given by Biederman to several states attorneys (who were claiming that makers of antipsychotic drugs defrauded state Medicaid programs by improperly marketing their medicines), the New York Times reported Biederman’s response when he was asked what rank he held at Harvard:

“Full professor,” Biederman answered.

“What’s after that?” asked one state attorney, Fletch Trammell.

“God,” Biederman responded.

“Did you say God?” Trammell asked.

“Yeah,” Biederman said.

Despite the New York Times and the rest of the mainstream media reporting on Biederman’s conflicts of interest and arrogance, his career as a psychiatrist appears not to have suffered. The Massachusetts General Hospital continues to list him as: “Chief of the Clinical and Research Programs in Pediatric Psychopharmacology and Adult ADHD at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Director of the Alan and Lorraine Bressler Clinical and Research Program for Autism Spectrum Disorders at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and Professor of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School.”

Why Society Accepts Psychiatry’s Unethical Ethics

Financial conflicts of interest are not viewed as unethical in the institution of psychiatry. In 2021, utilizing the Open Payments database, Robert Whitaker reported in Mad in America (“Anatomy of an Industry: Commerce, Payments to Psychiatrists and Betrayal of the Public Good”): “From 2014 to 2020, pharmaceutical companies paid $340 million to U.S. psychiatrists to serve as their consultants, advisers, and speakers, or to provide free food, beverages and lodging to those attending promotional events.” Roughly 75 percent of the psychiatrists in the United States, notes Whitaker, “received something of value from the drug companies from 2014 through 2020,” with 62 psy­chiatrists receiving one million dollars or more.

Psychiatry’s conflicts-of-interest “ethics” does not stand out in current U.S. society because such “morality” is increasingly the norm for other major institutions in U.S. society, including U.S. government leaders; among the countless examples, one reported in a 2021 Esquire article, “Speaker of the House Announces Support for Conflicts of Interest,” about the Democrat Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

In a critically-thinking society, psychiatry’s blatant disregard for financial conflicts of interest would result in its complete loss of credibility as an institution, but psychiatry’s institutional corruption is merely one spoke on a societal wheel replete with institutional corruption.

In a fear-based society that is absent of critical thinking, there is no cost to authorities who are guilty of financial conflicts of interest, flip-flopping, belittling, and arrogance, and so such authorities—including psychiatry authorities—pervade mainstream discourse. This is a major reason why those who continue to embrace freethinking and critical thinking are so bored by mainstream discourse—including mainstream discourse in psychiatry.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. Good, I get to play Trivial Pursuit…. In Dr. Thomas Szasz’s obituary in Time Magazine, the ONLY person quoted was E. ( as in “Evil” ) Fuller Torrey…..
    I found that to be the height of sad irony….
    Torrey is the Demon, Szasz is the persecuted Saint….
    Something like that….

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  2. Torrey, Torrey, Torrey—Let’s see the “Tories” were the “Americans” who lived in America and were on the side of the “British” rather than the Americans during the Revolutionay War. This explains almost everything. Once I thought Torrey had intelligent ideas, but that was when I mistakenly believed I was “mentally ill.” I may have had my “shortcomings” in life and my “obstacles” to overcome, but I can say that they weren’t due to any “mental illness.” In fact, I am sure that goes for many. And I dare say, there are many who are allegedly diagnosed with a “mental illness” who really have, perhaps, other issues that need to be addressed and never get addressed because they are buried under the lies of a “mental illness” diagnosis. Then they get unnecessarily drugged and therapized, which causes further issues they do not need. Still, there is hope and that is when one realizes the damage being done to them and an individual seeks the truth pertinent just to him or her, not the lies of the “mental health industry” and fales “mental illness diagnosis. Thank you.

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  3. Great blog which raises many important questions.

    Yes, Szasz made enormous contributions to dissecting and dismantling the foundational thinking that props up the oppressive institution of psychiatry, and also for his opposition to all forms of forced “treatment.”

    Unfortunately, Szasz also pissed away major opportunities in the 1960’s to advance the overall struggle against psychiatric oppression, by failing to link his incisive exposure of psychiatry to the rising struggle against U.S. imperialist war, the Black Liberation movement, and the rising women’s movement.There are common threads of social control, class oppression, and the insatiable drive for capitalist profit embedded within the underlying causes for these forms of oppression.

    Szasz’s embrace of the standard form of Right Wing Libertarianism created huge blind spots that crippled his ability to carry some of his thinking about psychiatric oppression to a more revolutionary place, both ideologically, and especially for organizing and inspiring political activism as part of the rising wave of activism in 60’s.

    Szasz’s brand of Libertarianism leads to a form of hyper individualism that is running rampant in today’s society, and remains part of the underpinnings of the anti-vax and anti-mask movements that ignore legitimate science and completely pervert what it means to fight for *freedom.*

    The Szasz quote used above encapsulates some of this faulty libertarian thinking:
    “Anybody who wants to go to a psychiatrist is fine. Anyone who wants to take psychiat­ric drugs is fine with me… I am for freedom and responsibility.”

    His last sentence about being for “freedom and responsibility” totally contradicts his laissez-faire view towards people’s “choice” to engage with psychiatry and take their drugs. It’s NOT OK that the institution of psychiatry exists in this society to do all their dirty work, and be allowed to push their drugs on vulnerable people. Where was Szasz’s critique of the massive and corrupt collusion between psychiatry and Big Pharma in their promotion of DSM diagnoses and the enormous proliferation of psych drugging??? I guess Big Pharma should be “free” to make money and drugs however they choose.

    And what would Szasz say about the sweetheart deal (and lack of criminal consequences) that the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma have gotten away with for the negligent deaths of more 500 thousand deaths related to the opiate epidemic?

    Because Szasz had no problem with the capitalist system, he couldn’t see (or perhaps he didn’t care) that psychiatry was becoming more and more of a necessary tool for social control of the most volatile (and potentially revolutionary) sections of U.S. society. The future of both entities (capitalism and psychiatry) are now historically intertwined in a symbiotic relationship of mutual need – one can’t exist without the other, AND their final destinies cannot be separated.

    The other Szasz quote: “The libertarian philosophy of freedom is characterized by two fundamental beliefs: the right to be left alone and the duty to leave others alone.” This represents a prime example of the type of philosophy that embraces the “privilege” and tolerance of “injustice” that Bakunin called out in his criticism of Libertarianism.

    The current movement against all forms of psychiatric oppression MUST be linked to all the other powerful social movements for social justice AND for the survival of the planet against climate destruction and inter imperialist war. Any viable critique of psychiatry (as an oppressive institution) cannot be separated from a very much related critique of all that is wrong with a profit based capitalist system.


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    • In all due respect, I have one thing to say, “Wrong Answer.” To link anti- psychiatry with the particular groups mentioned is to link the anti-psychiatry movement with marxism, etc. Psychiatry is a tool of control as is marxism, etc. With all due respect, it is only legitimate for anti-psychiatry to be linked with a more libertarian point of view. I do not mean to be blunt. Thank you.

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      • rebel says:
        “To link anti- psychiatry with the particular groups mentioned is to link the anti-psychiatry movement with marxism, etc. Psychiatry is a tool of control as is marxism, etc. With all due respect, it is only legitimate for anti-psychiatry to be linked with a more libertarian point of view. I do not mean to be blunt.”

        I say: since when are all social justice movements, including those fighting against climate destruction and inter imperialist war – “Marxist?”

        This sounds like a ‘talking point” currently repeated over and over again by Right Wing Republicans and others of that ilk, in order to reject and smear all social justice type movements.

        There are no facts to back up this statement. Yes, there are people who label themselves “Marxist” involved in these movement, but the VAST MAJORITY are of many other different political persuasions, or people who currently remain undefined.

        I only WISH there were as many true “Marxists” out there as you seem to imply.

        “Marxism” is not “a tool of control,” but rather, an ideology that deeply analyzes the history of oppressive class based societies and charts a path for humanity toward a more eqalitarian societal structure (socialism leading to communism), that ultimately leads to a “stateless” and class free world.

        There is NOTHING inherent in Marxist ideology that advocates for “social control” other than controlling and preventing some people in society from exploiting other human beings.

        Marxist ideology AND practice in the world is about 150 years young. Just because its prior experiments were defeated and/or failed (with mistakes being made), DOES NOT negate the essence and value of Marxist ideology as a liberating force in the world.


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        • I could not disagree more. But you are free to be a Marxist, as I am free (I hope) to be an anti-Marxist. I see Marx and a petty criminal with a keen intellect who spent his life trying to explain why he disliked work. This may be unfair, but I think it is warranted.

          It is my understanding that many psychiatrists had Marxist leanings as this was a type of “liberation” ideology that suited them. That psychiatrists in the West ended up supporting the corporate power structure, while those behind the Iron Curtain worked for the Soviet power structure indicates their criminality, not their political allegiances.

          I don’t believe that Marx had any better grasp of true freedom than do the corporate publicists currently flying the flag of Social Justice. If anything, old fashioned Capitalists had a better grasp of freedom and human rights than did the old Left or the new Left.

          Psychiatry, as a dramatization of psychopathic tendencies (not as an impulse towards real help, which does motivate a few people in Mental Health) will assert its rightness no matter how accurate the criticism, and will justify its atrocities using whatever ideology seems the most popular or convenient at the time.

          I wish political ideologies were not brought up in relation to the problem of psychiatry, as I see them as irrelevant. They are as irrelevant here as they are in discussing the problem of crime, or of illiteracy or of malnutrition, as these problems have plagued us regardless of who was in power or who was blamed for these problems.

          The problem of bringing real love and freedom to a civilization is senior to mere politics and cannot be achieved through political change alone.

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          • as the feminists say: “The personal is political”
            different political paradigms throughout history have had better or worse success at combatting crime, illiteracy, malnutrition, etc.

            psychiatry has been used as a political weapon throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

            it is highly relevant and entirely appropriate to assess the institutions of mental healthcare, especially coercive elements, through a civic-minded lens.

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          • I have a hard time seeing anything “Marxist” about the “mental health” system. There is no effort or intention to create equality between workers and the wealthy, nor any effort to redistribute control of the means of production to the masses. If psychiatry had “Marxist” roots, it would create collective wards where no one had any economic incentives to push drugs on another person.

            Psychiatry is a strictly capitalist enterprise. It is about making profits, regardless of the effect on the “consumers.” It is about projection of the power of the wealthy over the rest of us. Nothing Marxist about it, in my view.

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          • I am surprised, Steve, to see you unclear on this point! But of course, there is what might be called “pure” Marxism, and then there is what has been done in its name in real times and places.

            But both China and the Soviet Union have been happy with a totalitarian approach to bringing socialistic “equality” to the people. Though I see this as hugely hypocritical, it cannot be denied that many psychiatrists worked for the Soviet state in its time, just as they worked for the Nazi state in its time and for the Corporate state. They are political cowards who seek the favor of any ruling government and have been willing, as a profession, to service the political needs of whoever is in power. Also, their traditional approach to expanding their influence has been self-described (by J.R. Rees) as “5th column” which is to say, subversive. This has also been the chosen strategy of Communists and Neo Marxists (including the Woke) in the U.S. (if not elsewhere).

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          • Marxism as practiced has been a disaster. I think Marx’s analysis of what was wrong with capitalism was quite accurate, but his solution fails to take human nature into account. Humans need to feel like they are competing in some way, that their individual efforts make a difference. They don’t do very well working for “the good of the collective,” much as many like to think they do. Collective farming was the best example – production was very low, until they gave everyone their own 10 acres or whatever to farm. The productivity on the private land was many times that of the collective farms. I suppose you could say that people need a game of some sort, a way to “win” or “lose,” and collectivist farming doesn’t seem to provide it.

            But of course, the other verity of humans is that “power corrupts,” and it was ironic to see the Communist Party leaders hanging out in the same dachas of the aristocracy they claimed to want to get rid of.

            So sure, communism in practice was a total failure, and led to dictatorship in seemingly ever case. But that doesn’t make psychiatry communistic. It’s just plain authoritarian, and so naturally will do well in either fascist or communist or any other authoritarian state where the need to control other people is prominent. However, it should be observed that while the communists USED psychiatry to keep their rebels under control, psychiatry was part and parcel of the planning and implementation of Nazism in Germany, up to and including mass murder. So I’d still say psychiatry proved a better “fit” with fascism overall.

            Regardless, it appears to me that psychiatry is less interested in economic theory and primarily concerned with making money and establishing power over others. They will do so in whatever economic system is in use. They are very, very comfortable with capitalism, as drug company profit margins on psych drugs should make very clear. Communists are anti-capitalists. Psychiatry, simply put, is not.

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        • Marxism has about as much value in reality as My little Pony’s, pink unicorns and rainbows.

          Its a well tried and failed experiment.

          Uniformity results in a static existence. One which will be inevitability exploited by those at the top.

          Like it or not someone has to be in charge. Marxism is merely a counterpoint to anarchy with inevitability the same results over time.

          The alternative is called structure, society, civilisation. Democracy in the capitalist sense and I’m the Anti Gordon Gekko speaking here. A non materialist with a working brain.

          A post scarcity economy is the obvious answer but even that will result in an inert economy. Another impossible dream.

          Capitalism, hand in hand with democracy, is the only logical way forward as flawed as it is.

          To my mind some comments here are descending into the nonsensical. If one must politicise psychiatry start at the foundations IMO.




          A democratic solution in which the basic tenets of human rights are retained.

          Its not a Marxist revolution we need. Its a revolt against those who hold power over the policing of minds who are more concerned with the bottom line than human lives.

          Its no stretch to say psychiatry borders on fascism with its discrimatory disregard for HUMAN LIVES amid the only true productivity it produces…note taking and file keeping.

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          • “Capitalism, hand in hand with democracy, is the only logical way forward as flawed as it is.”

            This statement above by Jack Murphy seems to represent the views of several writers, including Steve McCrea, here in this comment section.

            So much criticism and angst focused on a system of economic and social organization (socialism), that currently exists NOWHERE on the planet.

            In fact, a genuine socialist state has NOT existed on this planet since China in 1977 – ending after ONLY 3 DECADES OF EXISTENCE. BTW, the average lifespan of a Chinese citizen doubled (from 35 to 70 years) during that same period.

            AND the Russian revolution only legitimately lasted for little over 3 decades on this planet – 1918 to the early 1950’s.

            Where the HELL are people’s political priorities of criticism and human angst??? I am totally amazed at such MISDIRECTION of compassionate attention of importance!

            The fact that this planet is on the verge of total climate destruction AND possible inter imperialist nuclear war (by competing capitalist nation states), has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with socialism and communism – AND EVERYTHING to do with the current dominant capitalist form of social organization!!!

            So counting the years of the two socialist revolutions – socialism has only been tried on the planet earth for a mere 60 years of experimental practice.

            Where are people’s priorities? Is it not the Right Wing extremist’s ideology and talking points that wants people to focus on the “communist bogeyman,” and NOT on the realities of the inequalities and injustices that pervade modern capitalist societies.???

            Steve says: “Marxism as practiced has been a disaster…communism in practice was a total failure”

            Is this not an example of an “absolutist,” and rather undialectical historical evaluation of only little over 60 years of socialist practice on the planet? A mere tiny spec of time in the development of various forms of human organization.

            Would this viewpoint not be the equivalent of declaring heart transplants a FAILURE in 1967 because the first heart recipient only ended up living for 18 days?

            Look how far the science and the practice of heart transplants has progressed since the earliest experiments. Fortunately, some doctors and medical ethicists did not give up on these heart experiments despite “trial and errors,” AND much criticism heaped upon them at the time.

            Similar to a human transplanted heart that is surrounded by cellular activity that wants the body to TOTALLY REJECT the new organ, the conditions that existed for the new emerging socialist states in the world (first Russia then China) WERE QUITE SIMILAR IN NATURE.

            This enormous amount of economic, political, and military HOSTILITY that surrounded the experimental socialist states, combined with internal mistakes trying to create something new and innovative on the planet (like heart transplants), had EVERYTHING to do with why these efforts for a brand new form of social organization were unable to succeed.

            Steve says:
            ” Humans need to feel like they are competing in some way, that their individual efforts make a difference. They don’t do very well working for “the good of the collective,”…”

            Here we see the oft repeated argument that “it’s human nature” that is the problem with why socialist type cooperation cannot work in the world.

            Human nature is NOT a fixed entity, but is quite malleable under different environmental conditions. Human empathy, compassion and cooperation is just as prevalent on this planet as is competition, violence towards others, and selfishness.

            What is THE environment of social organization that is most likely to produce (and let flourish) human cooperation and compassion for others?

            Must I remind Steve and others in this comment section, that for many THOUSANDS of years of social organization (in primitive communal tribal societies) HUMAN COOPERATION WAS BOTH A NECESSITY AND THE COMMON PRACTICE OF SOCIAL EXISTENCE FOR SURVIVAL PURPOSES.

            Human groupings that FAILED to practice this form of cooperation would soon go out of existence.

            YES, (many of you are saying), these forms of “cooperation” based societies were practiced mainly out of NECESSITY (a forced choice, if you will), BUT what then took place when excesses were able to be produced within human society and we had the formation of classes. Now (you say) there were power struggles among those who wanted to CONTROL AND OWN the excesses of goods (food, products, livestock etc.)

            Yes, this is all true, and it was a contributing factor to the ultimate development (following feudalism) of early capitalist forms of economic and political structure.

            BUT NONE OF THIS, explains why it is not possible for human beings to combine that same early sense of NECESSITY (for existence) with the FREEDOM OF INTELLECTUAL AND HISTORICAL CHOICE now that we have the knowledge to solve the problems of production and construction of all the necessities of life AND the means to distribute them equitably on ONE PLANET.

            Soon more people on the planet will begin to realize that if WE DON’T begin to combine a NECESSITY of both human NEED AND CHOICE., then the entire planet CANNOT AND WILL NOT survive.

            Many people here are stuck in an intellectual box of simplistic and cliched explanations (after decades of political brainwashing) of why capitalism must be the highest pinnacle of human organization.

            Folks, it’s NOT WORKING! The planet is dying, and it’s time to explore political options and choices OUTSIDE the box of Neo-Liberal corporate capitalism.


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          • Nobody’s saying the current system is working, Richard, or I’ve certainly NEVER said anything remotely like that. I told you I agree with Marx’s analysis of capitalism, which was and is indeed genius. I just don’t see him providing a workable alternative system, that’s all. Maybe more practice is needed, maybe I’m too cynical about “human nature,” maybe I can’t envision enough people being educated (or even interested) enough to learn the reasons why cooperation matters. My observation is that current society requires a HELL of a lot of cooperation, yet this is all very much taken for granted and people are easily manipulated and taken advantage of by posing “us vs. them” scenarios. I would love to see the “workers unite” and create some better conditions. I just don’t see Marx as providing us a pathway there. I get stuck in how the “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” leads to the classless society. It has not yet happened in reality. Israeli Kibbutzes are probably the very best example to date, but my understanding is that they are now a very tiny part of Israeli society.

            You’re free to disagree, but I think you could ease off the suggestion that I think “capitalisms is the highest pinnacle of human organization.” You know very well I never said that, so please refrain from “strawman” arguments in the future.

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          • Oh gosh! The only point I was trying to make was that I thought there were a bunch of psychiatrists who were Marxists. And then, instead of determining if that was true, we get into a huge argument about whether Marx was a genius or a fool.

            I stand by my basic premise which that what the world needs now is sanity, not some new half-baked “system” that is likely to end up in the wrong hands and result in the murder of millions of people.

            Sanity! That’s what mental health is all about! I am not interested in diatribe. I am interested in finding ways to get the mental health system to make saner people.

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        • People need to stop tossing around words they can’t even properly define (and this applies to all “sides”). And we need to get away from isms and say what we mean.

          Marxism in my view is not an ideology, but a tool for analyzing class struggle. (All of which is beyond the purview of website which uses the term “Mad” to describe those it is presumably in business to advocate for.) Anyway, there can be authoritarian Marxists just like there can be authoritarian psychologists, it depends on the individual, or the individual school of Marxism.

          Much of this theoretical talk is rapidly becoming obsolete, as there is currently no credible socialist or communist grouping that the people will (or should) trust in the wake of the entire so-called Left (from liberals on up) totally screwing the people with their support for lockdowns, school & business closures, child abuse, unscientific mandates, Big Pharm, Big Tech, ad infinitum. If there is to be a revolution in our lifetimes it will have to be totally rebuilt, as the current “leaders” have clearly proven themselves to be otherwise.

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          • leftists and liberals hold extremely divergent views on ethics and civics.

            Your rhetoric betrays a dead giveaway that you have never actually witnessed or spoken to someone on the left; there is nothing more insulting to a leftist than to be lumped in with establishment Democrat values. Even the “authoritarian Marxists”, as you put it (they’re called tankies, dude, more proof you have never spoken or listened to anyone on the left) despise having their brand of state authoritarianism conflated with liberal corporate authoritarianism — two wildly different sets of principles.

            Liberal refers to values passed down from Enlightenment era philosophers, and is the bedrock of American political thinking. What are referred to as Republicans and Democrats in this country are both liberal. Those associated with the “alt-right” have referred to themselves as “classical liberals” as a distinction from “neoliberals”.

            The “Left” (anarcho-syndicalists? social/civil libertarians? marxists? trotskyites? social democrats with their by-definition-pretty-credible political organizing? Unionizers? Noam Chomsky?) includes many of the OGs when it comes to standing against coercive medical practices and monopolistic trade interests, when it comes to actually winning battles that we benefit from to this day.

            You preach nuance and adopt a username that refers to the taijitu iconic of my spiritual faith, Daoism, yet you lump the “entire so-called Left” into a single monolith. Many who follow Daoist principles can be considered a Chinese parallel for the extreme far left. In fact, Leftism in the west has a fairly well known streak of falling in with Daoism, there is an entire branch of thinking unique to the Anglosphere that is derived from philosophical inspirations through studying the Dao blended with anarchist political principles.

            If you think lockdowns are bad you should look up what happened in the company towns of coal-mining Appalachia and how they fought and lost. The name by which those leftists revolutionaries were identified? Rednecks. Do you think that crowd – historically or contemporaneously – would appreciate being referred to as upstream of corporate liberals?

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          • Add “leftist” to “Marxist” as one of those terms everyone has an opinion about but is loathe to define.

            In theory leftists and liberals are diametrically opposed, however they joined forces over the covid madness — it might be more accurate to say that for the most part leftists — most likely including some of those who identify themselves here as such — became liberals; at any rate both have joined the camp of totalitarianism. There may be some exceptions, if so please enlighten me.

            The “Left” (anarcho-syndicalists? social/civil libertarians? marxists? trotskyites? social democrats with their by-definition-pretty-credible political organizing? Unionizers? Noam Chomsky?) includes many of the OGs when it comes to standing against coercive medical practices and monopolistic trade interests

            Yes, correct — and most have thoroughly betrayed their (alleged) principles by embracing the COVID narrative, whether out of opportunism or sheer cowardice. At any rate they can never be trusted again, they have become shills for the Big Pharm they supposedly despise. We have to start all over.

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          • Maybe follow the Golden Rule? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?
            But running a society based on that premise has never been tried before. And I don’t think there is any law to make people kinder or more compassionate. Any more than there’s a kind of medical treatment. (The legal and medical tyrants trying to enforce morality by brute force are light years from practicing their own rules. No better than self-styled theocrats when it comes down to it.)

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        • i liked your whole write-up in this thread, just one little point regarding “marxism as practiced”

          considering historic states like communist china or the soviet union – technically speaking the economic and governmental structure is classified as “state capitalism” — as in the state owns all the capital.
          This structure is about as marxist/communist as the nazis were socialists: in name only.

          As for other socialist states, like in Latin America example, there is no way to meaningfully analyze the success/failure of those state and economic structures, due to imperialist interests (usually American, usually in service to the agenda for neoliberal capitalist hegemony), through various tactics like exploitative international trade practices and political interventionism conducted through the CIA.

          This is a fairly crude summation and does not get into the nuances. (such as Vietnam, Revolutionary Catalan, or the anarchist aborigines of Taiwan, a few more topics for anyone who is curious to learn more)

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          • Marxism is not “practiced” any more than astronomy is “practiced”; it is a field of inquiry.

            Neither China nor Russia are “communist” states for starterss; there is no such thing, even in principle, as a communist state, and in practice the only remotely socialist state currently is Cuba.

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    • Per this write-up, Szasz was a Libertarian, not a Capitalist. I find your political analysis wanting in several ways, but what we are seeing in modern society that so many people are reacting against is corporate capitalism intensified by various control technologies like electronic media and computer systems. This sort of society represents an antithesis of Libertarian ideals.

      This is what organized psychiatry is actively promoting, as it has a place in a society where corporate criminals control the means of production, distribution and banking. It seems that these corporate interests, now morphed into “friendly” tech companies, are in the process of overtaking the other liberation movements you mentioned and, using Critical Theory and other confused ideologies confounding “liberation” with a world of corporate dominance. Thus we see psychiatrists and psychologists supporting the ideas of Critical Theory in their publications. They know, apparently, where that road actually leads.

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      • “Szasz was a Libertarian, not a Capitalist”

        Szasz’s brand of Right Wing Libertarianism is the total personification of Neo-liberal individualism and defense of the capitalist “free market” system.

        And this represents the ultimate defense of both class privilege and social injustice (or at the very least, ignoring and/or turning away from acknowledging such injustice).


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        • While you are quoting standard Marxist theory, I don’t know what that has to do with reality. Do you agree with the Marxist view of life on Earth? You may state the theory as fact if you desire, but there are many who will not agree that this actually demonstrates any sort of workable view of life.

          “Individualism” has a lot more to it than is contributed by neo-Liberal (or neo-Conservative for that matter) ideologies. And “free markets” need not be wedded to Capitalism, nor Capitalism to Corporatism.

          And “injustice” has a lot more to it than a manifestation of class privilege. Real criminals scream about “injustice” all the time, so we need a little more nuanced approach to that subject to understand it well.

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        • So you call Szasz a neoliberal? I’ll bet a nickel Szasz would NOT have supported forced lockdowns and forced injections.

          If Szasz is a neoliberal what is Bill Gates? The Clintons?

          Amazing how people can argue so passionately about things they never bother to define.

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      • “Corporate capitalism” is like “biological psychiatry” in that there is no “better” form of capitalism, or “better” form of psychiatry.

        AND while we’re on the subject, the issue is not “mainstream” psychiatry, but ALL psychiatry, which is without exception based on the illogical, absurd, and Neanderthal concept of “mental illness.”

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  4. It is good to see a discussion of Szasz, as I have not studied him. I am a Scientologist, not a student of psychiatry or even of medical ethics. But I think the only reason Szasz distanced himself from Scientology was that he probably knew very little about it, which is the same reason most people reject it. Of all the examples of “institutional bigotry” (to misuse a modern catch phrase) the mindless denigration of Scientology has been one of the worst. Because Scientology stood squarely in the way of the advancement of the Mental Health State (and still does).

    It looks like Torrey lacked personal integrity and was just going with the flow. The mention of Trump, however, is gratuitous.

    Biederman got caught. I wonder how many others never were.

    Though Levine’s overall premise is crudely put, it is basically correct. Left unexplored however, is how a freedom-loving society (ours) deteriorated into the fear-based society that it is today. My explanation for this is that one particular personality type – not that common, but very destructive when bright and empowered – gained the upper hand. These people are commonly known as psychopaths. I call them criminals. My teacher calls them Suppressive Persons. Our last hope against this personality type is to understand it better than it understands itself and exploit its weaknesses to remove it from positions of authority. As these beings think nothing of convincing a police officer (for instance) that an enemy of his is dangerous and should be shot on sight, this project requires a certain amount of bravery.

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  5. “In a critically-thinking society, psychiatry’s blatant disregard for financial conflicts of interest would result in its complete loss of credibility as an institution, but psychiatry’s institutional corruption is merely one spoke on a societal wheel replete with institutional corruption.”

    Sad, but true … well synopsized, thank you Bruce.

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  6. A really nice article Bruce. Your conclusion that “This is a major reason why those who continue to embrace freethinking and critical thinking are so bored by mainstream discourse—including mainstream discourse in psychiatry” hit home for me. While I love the critical thinking in your article and in MIA, it is demoralizing that the elegant analysis and deconstruction of flawed research papers doesn’t have more of an impact.

    I can’t think of a more evil, harmful psychiatrist than Biederman. He created childhood bipolar out of thin air to sell Risperdal. The damage he has done is incalculable and to this day childhood bipolar disorder is diagnosed based on his corrupt assertions. Around the time that this all came to light I filed an ethics complaint with the APA – clearly outlining Biederman’s ethical violations and based on APA rules, I asked for expulsion from the APA. They are required to investigate any complaint. Naturally it went nowhere, but I imagine that it was food for thought and may have quietly shamed some people. For nothing at all to have happened to him speaks volumes about psychiatry.

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  7. I very much appreciate how Tom Szasz is praised in the article.
    We as an organization, the “lunatic offensive”, cooperated with him since 1987 when we printed his booklet, the “Psychiatric Will”. The modernized form of it is our advanced psychiatric directive, the PatVerfue:
    The next collaboration was in 1997 in a Symposium: followed by his indictment: for the Foucault Tribunal: and his participation in the Russell Tribunal:
    We awarded him our Freedom Award, for the first time we gave our prize, the Golden Flashlight:
    In my speech at the Szasz symposium for his 80th birthday at the Syracuse university I spoke also about the social and political dimension, which can be found in Toms libertarian work:
    “c) In his work “Cruel Compassion” Thomas Szasz employed the term “parasite”. In a private conversation with him three years ago, I asked how his use of the word “parasite” should be understood. His spontaneous answer: “You have to love your parasites”. He had hit the nail on the head.
    I invert the parasitic into a positive meaning and claim that due to an ever-increasing productivity only the parasitic offers the possibility for the free market economy to continue to develop.
    Otherwise the economy will increasingly go mad and will need more and more occupational therapy. In Germany, we are currently about to start a campaign promoting the idea that the willingness to work should cease to be a criterion to receive state benefits indefinitely. The requirement to work should be revoked.
    Or, in short: Thou shalt eat, even if you refuse to work.”

    Tom was the inspiration of my life.
    rene talbot
    Berlin, Germany

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  8. Thanks for the comments.

    As Mad in America readers know full well, mainstream psychiatry has been nonproductive and counterproductive for millions of people, and its assumptions are routinely illogical and not based on genuine science – all this MIA readers know.

    What’s increasingly troubling for me is that mainstream mental health professionals have made the field so boring that freethinkers and critical thinkers outside of the MIA orbit won’t even bother to read an article or pick up a book with “Psychiatry” in the title.

    Making the field so boring keeps freethinkers from bothering with it, and thus maintains the status quo. I doubt that mainstream psychiatry calculated this strategy but, by virtue of their boring nature and boring dogma, have lucked into “winning” via boring the crap out of society from thinking about the field.

    So, what we need to do is not simply to counter the bullshit but to make this stuff interesting for freethinkers and critical thinkers.

    Thanks again for the comments, none of which I found boring! – Bruce

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    • Well, judging by the time-stamp, I’m writing within 2 hours of Dr. Levine here. I have 2 cogent responses; – an observation of denial of affirmation with caveat, and a refutation. Levine claims that “mainstream mental health professionals”, – whatever specifically exact definition of such he means, – have deliberately made psychiatry boring, thereby protecting Guild interests against predation by “freethinkers” & “critical thinkers”. Next, Dr. Levine asserts that the status quo is in fact MAINTAINED by boringness, and the repellent effects of that boringness, as protection from marauding intellectuals. So, Dr. Levine is saying that psychiatry still exists because it’s seen as boring! And therefore reformers can’t employ their CHANGE THOUGHTS. So psychiatry doesn’t change. So “society” basically ignores psychiatry because it’s boring. THAT is about what Dr. Levine is saying here. In other words, what Dr. Levine is saying here, is BULLSHIT. Hey, prove me wrong. Follow the logic rationally & linguistically…. Bruce & I emailed personally briefly years ago, so I’m pretty sure he will appreciate & respect this shot across his bow from an equally large caliber vocal cannon!
      Mine shoots blanks. His shoots paychecks. Think about it. Psychiatry is dead. I killed psychiatry. ~bradford~ ->:<-

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    • I think your comment about psychiatry being boring is very interesting. I remember when I was in college trying to decide on a major. I ended up on deciding to major in psychology partly because of all the subjects I took, it was the only one that I could study prior to bedtime and be assured I would sleep; even in a noisy dorm. Thank you.

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    • Hi Bruce.

      Interesting read. Love Szasz myself.

      I have to disagree people don’t pay attention to psychiatry because its boring ( I would call it as shallow as a puddle myself ).

      Madness scares people IMO. It benefits society to label opposition or difference with a diagnosis because then everyone not marginalised can sleep comfortably knowing there is a ‘science’ that can magically explain anything they are not comfortable with.

      Why would society at large want to throw away such a great comfort blanket and start examining the so called mentally ill as real people with agency? That’s not convenient to many IMO.

      Also as a side issue I would love your response to this. I was in with my community mental health nurse yesterday. A college trainee was present.

      A young slip of a girl of 22.

      I explained, as I always do, to her the blatant disregard of peoples rights under the mental health act and how it overrides constitutional rights. Explained the physical harm done to my body by forced medication and so on and so forth.

      Her response?

      “It’s for your own good.”

      By jaysus that annoyed me. A girl young enough to be my daughter patronisingly telling me in her bright eyed naivete something I would only say to a child.

      I replied “Says who? I’m a grown man. I decide what’s for my own good. Its nobody else’s business.”

      What hope is there for change when every successive generation of ‘carers’ is coming up being educated with the same rubbish?

      How dare these people. How dare they.

      I’ve much more to say on the matter but I have to agree with the libertarian viewpoint of Szasz. If people believe its helping them fair enough.

      If, like me, people KNOW its not what they either want or need, they should be left alone.

      Also, for my money, capitalism goes hand in hand with democracy. Psychiatry, although bearing superficial resemblance to corporate crime, is much more insidious IMO.

      It destroys lives and violates human rights as a matter of routine.

      At one point in my life I lost my material lifestyle, I was homeless for years ( not ‘mental illness’ related, it was years before my diagnosis ) and I can speak from experience that forced psychiatric treatment is an awful lot more traumatising and damaging than sleeping on cold steps in the winter etc…

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      • That’s a good story about the young nurse. I have met people like that, too. They are swallowing the narrative hook line and sinker. It’s really sad.

        I also know young people who would never go along with any such agenda. The future seems to hold some sort of significant ideological showdown for all of us.

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      • I’m sorry that you didn’t tell us what that “little slip of a girl” said in reply to you, when you called her out on her patronizing, insulting, and unprofessional statements to you! Yes, indeed she DOES NEED “putting her back in her place”. And “For Your Own Good”, I think that’s correct, is the title of a very good book on understanding childhood trauma & abuse. I read it many years ago, and recommend it.

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    • As Mad in America readers know full well, mainstream psychiatry has been nonproductive and counterproductive for millions of people, and its assumptions are routinely illogical and not based on genuine science…what’s increasingly troubling for me is that mainstream mental health professionals have made the field so boring that freethinkers and critical thinkers outside of the MIA orbit won’t even bother to read an article or pick up a book with “Psychiatry” in the title.

      PLEASE stop saying “mainstream psychiatry” — ALL psychiatry is by definition oppressive and needs to go.

      There’s no need for anyone to pick up a book with “psychiatry” in the title unless it has an “anti” preceding it — as with capitalism the question should not be whether to abolish it but how.

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    • Bruce

      Have your reconsidered your “boring” analysis above?

      Do you have any response to those who have challenged that particular comment?

      I think this is an important topic, because it defines, in many ways, what ideological and political work needs to be done in the future by activists fighting against all forms of psychiatric abuse.


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  9. “Psychiatry is a pseudoscience, a drug dealing racket, and a social control mechanism. It’s 21st century phrenology with potent neuro-toxins. Psychiatry has done,, and continues to do, far more harm than good. So-called “mental illnesses” are exactly as “real” as presents from Santa Claus, but not more real. The DSM is actually better seen as nothing but a catalog of billing codes, which it in fact is. But, Obamacare gave U.S. medicine over 70,000 possible diagnostic billing codes, so the less than 500 “mental illnesses” in the DSM seems kinda underachieving of the shrinks. You’d think they would invent 3 or 4,000 “mental illnesses”.
    Of course, with careful editing and phrasing, the DSM could easily be re-written, and re-edited to create say, 200, or even 600 “mental illnesses”. Wouldn’t that be better?
    Bruce Levine is either not being intellectually honest here, or perhaps too glib. Psychiatry doesn’t exist as it is today because it’s boring. It exists as it does today, because it makes money selling drugs to people society finds annoying or inconvenient, thereby helping solve, or at least abate, situations and people that society would rather not have to deal with….
    The original article, on Szasz, Torrey, and Beiderman, is excellently written and presented. Psychiatry helps protect a vast, nebulous but real, crooked system of organized crime and exploitation, known as THE GOVERNMENT….And government creates space for a pure protected monopoly for the industry of psychiatry. Boring is not a factor in these equations & calculations. To suggest that boringness maintains psychiatry is bullshit, Bruce.” ~b.

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  10. As has been pointed out on numerous occasions in the pages of MIA, Szasz was by any standard definition anti-psychiatry; his primary objection to the term was that he didn’t want to be confused with leftist psychiatrists like David Cooper, who labeled their particular brand of psychiatry “antipsychiatry.”

    As for Szasz being an anti-psychiatry activist, it could be argued that anyone who recognizes that psychiatry is organized medical fraud and opposes forced psychiatric intervention is”anti-psychiatry,” as force is at the center of psychiatry’s existence. And Szasz openly and actively opposed such force.

    Torrey on the other hand is comparable to such opportunistic political turncoats as David Horowitz.

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  11. And the resulting pro-status quo psychiatry hegemony in media–today seen by me on Yahoo and in Slate, the day before on NBC, the day before that in the Seattle Times–is almost beyond words overwhelming. The standard line of accept the labels and take the drugs without question is everywhere and now a celebrity cause, too. The hole just keeps getting deeper.

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  12. Here’s a psychiatrist speaking her mind (just discovered on Drop the Disorder Facebook page)

    Sexy But Psycho: How the Patriarchy Uses Women’s Trauma Against Them Hardcover – 10 Mar. 2022
    by Dr Jessica Taylor (Author)

    From back cover (according to Amazon):

    “Psychiatry is the patriarchy with a prescription pad. Read this book and start a revolution.”

    Jesus the first DSM psychotic, YES!

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  13. Bradford said:
    “Bruce Levine is either not being intellectually honest here, or perhaps too glib. Psychiatry doesn’t exist as it is today because it’s boring. It exists as it does today, because it makes money selling drugs to people society finds annoying or inconvenient, thereby helping solve, or at least abate, situations and people that society would rather not have to deal with….”

    Bradford and I often disagree on many subjects, but I think he is absolutely right to challenge Bruce Levine on his “boring” analysis of modern psychiatry. In fact, many of Bruce’s past blogs have provided some of the explanation for why many “critical thinkers” don’t intellectually take apart the entire oppressive Medical Model.

    Psychiatry is never “boring” to those suffering from its to multiple forms of labeling, drugging, and incarceration.

    And “critical thinkers,” from liberals to more genuine leftists and other social justice fighters who advocate for the causes of oppressed people in the world, have been overall fooled by a four decade long (highly sophisticated) PR campaign costing over several hundred billions of dollars.

    Many of these same people would still repeat the “chemical imbalance” myth, which continues to inundate all sorts of medical and “mental health” websites and medical texts. The genetic theories of “original sin” (and related DSM diagnoses) regarding various types of extreme forms of psychological distress, are still accepted by many “critical thinkers” who should know better.

    AND these same type of people (often with well meaning compassion) will eagerly support increased funding (as a knee jerk like reaction) for more “mental health” services to address the rapid rise in anxiety and depression in today’s world. They will support these measures WITHOUT doing any serious evaluation of the same status quo Medical Model that causes far more HARM than good.

    The ruling classes and their minions, and all the other fellow travelers of oppressive power mongering, know VERY WELL the value of psychiatry and their entire Medical Model in maintaining social control and class oppression. AND they have spent accordingly (to its value) on their several hundred billion dollar PR campaign, that (so far) must be declared a major success for our enemies.

    Bruce, you have gotten so many things right in your blog (and other writings), but you did miss the mark with that comment.

    It is up to us to continue to search for creative ways to break through the intellectual AND ACTIVIST log jam that seems to paralyze and fool most “critical thinkers” and social justice activists. There is much work to be done.


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  14. Although many seem to blame capitalism for the mainstreaming of the fraudulent science of psychiatry; it is not capitalism that is the problem. It is the fact that we have allowed capitalism along with its companion democracy to weaken. We have allowed ideologue types to exploit our weakest points. So free speech has degenerated into cancelled speech in the name of what—a false democracy. This probably could not happen without the help of psychiatry. I have written that all of psychology is evil. But, perhaps, not all, but most. And I am now to the belief that the rise of psychiatry is the rise of the what is probably the most evil of all psychology—“abnormal psychology.” It is in those little abnormal psych classes in high school and college of which perhaps the degeneration of mankind begins. Other areas of psychology may perhaps offer so good to society; but as long as we place our emphasis on abnormal psychology as does psychiatry, no good can result. This is turn, weakens both capitalism and democracy; therefore we falsely believe that capitalism is the problem when it is really anarchy masquerading as marxism, communism, socialism, leftism, i.e. going “woke.” etc. Thank you.

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    • Do you not see pharmaceutical corporations as fully complicit in the structure and marketing of psychiatry in the 21st century? Or the 20th for that matter? How could psychiatry sell its wares without Big Pharma? And is not Big Pharma the ultimate end game for corporations – almost unlimited profits with almost no accountability? Isn’t this where unfettered capitalism inevitably leads? What forces oppose this natural tendency of corporations to get bigger and richer and to eliminate the competition? Isn’t that what international Corporate Capitalism has always brought us?

      I think capitalism can work on a very localized scale, but only because there is a natural set of checks and balances whereby the local population can call the capitalists to account. If the local mill is dumping waste into the river, the citizens downriver can get together and say, “Hey, knock that shit off” and they have to listen, because they are neighbors and if people get pissed at them, they will stop buying from them. But if someone in Taiwan or Chicago or London is polluting my local river in Washington, what the hell can I do about it? There is no one to complain to, and the big company doesn’t give a crap if I live or die, as long as the money keeps coming in.

      That’s why I see psychiatry as a fully capitalist enterprise they exist to make PROFITS, they collude with others making even BIGGER profits, and they are utterly unaccountable to the population they claim to serve. That’s as capitalist as it gets in my book.

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      • When you speak about a system like Mental Health that has been infiltrated, if not constructed, by psychopaths, you must look beyond profit as a motive. Profit is a rational motive. But the psychopath is not a rational person.

        Were there not psychiatrists in Soviet Russia? Did they make profits? Or the ones that worked for Hitler? Psychopaths exist in all societies, and though they love to hide behind rational motivations, these are in fact lies. That’s why no sector of the planet has been immune from their influence; no sector of this planet has yet to come to terms with the brilliant criminal who can act “normal” while destroying the lives of all around him,

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        • I don’t disagree with you, but I am quite sure that psychiatrists in both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany made plenty of money. It is true, their malfeasance and ill intent appears to go well beyond that simple motivation, but my original point was that the psychiatric profession has absolutely no intellectual or philosophical connection to Marxism. It seems to be quite adaptable to whatever form of government is present, which I suppose provides more evidence that the intent goes beyond cupidity. But there is no question that greed plays a very large role in the current application of psychiatry, and the “profession” (if we may use that term VERY loosely) would be quite upset if a Marxist revolt took away their gravy train.

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      • I think capitalism can work on a very localized scale

        The natural progression of capitalism is akin to big fish eating little fish, and so on. The end point is always corporate monopoly capitalism, unless history holds an even more vicious mutation in store.

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        • I know. It’s not really capitalism when it’s part of a local community. The local community asserts its values and requires social behavior of local producers. It’s kind of like unspoken socialism – you have to behave or you are shunned. But that stops working pretty fast when the person doing the production is no longer invested in the community they produce in. As soon as people become expendable, things spiral very quickly out of control.

          To be clear, I’m saying I have no problem with the local farmer bringing in food to sell, and using his money to buy shoes at the shoe store, with farmer, shoemaker, and whomever profiting from their honest labor. That’s the level where I see the “free market” working. As soon as the rich guy can move out of town and pollute the river or undercut local businesses to create a monopoly without any fear of community consequences, we are in trouble.

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          • Sure. A farmers’ market. People bring their goods, put a price on them, other people decide if they want to buy or not. No fakeo marketing, responsibility to the community putting up the farmers’ market not to violate basic rules, real competition for prices (no monopolies), consumers determine what is too high a price or what is popular enough to bring more of or charge more for. Workers have basic control of their workplace (most work for themselves or family). No money leaves the local community. If you’re mean or pollute the environment or are unsafe, you’re not asked to come back, or no one is willing to buy from you. It’s a nice model of what a free market COULD look like without billionaires and mass marketing and monopolization.

            Hope that clarifies!

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  15. The conversation surrounding Marx is, predictably, despairing. I have yet to hear anyone invoking Marx in any public square-sans the academic square-in the context of his dialectical materialism or historicism, or any number of Marx’s copious philosophical treatises. In place of Marx’s towering genius and contributions (arguably, he gave birth to the dialectical critique, Lukacs, Gramsci, the Frankfurt School, and about another 5000 words of examples), the public is met with fear based weaponized tropes by the very people in power who understand very well what the 3 countries who kicked Marx out of Germany-his homeland, Belgium, and France, before being tenuously accepted in England: Marx understood power and its abuse like no human being before him. Marx’s dialectical genius recognized internal contradictions resulting from structure, i.e., negation, contingency, the negation of negation, etc. and as a result, the moral and ethical failures of power-as Richard Lewis so beautifully articulated some of the layers and their double-bind forces and actors. .

    Marx was and is dangerous, which is why he remains so misunderstood, misused, and misrepresented. As economics Professor Emeritus U Mass Richard Wolfe says, he spent 4 years at Harvard undergrad, 2 at Stanford and 2 back and Harvard for his 2 masters, and to Yale for his Ph. D in economics, and not one word of Marx all those years. Why…because he “pokes holes” in narratives of power, and that is as much a problem for economies as it is psychiatry and every institution we have. It doesn’t take a Marx IQ to see why and how this is a bit of a problem for the meritocratic class who lead or otherwise prop up our institutions.

    Lastly, regarding the comment “I see Marx and a petty criminal with a keen intellect who spent his life trying to explain why he disliked work”

    The world could use more lazy people like Marx, people who had nothing better to do than earn a Ph. D, and be so intellectually and morally honest, that he was denied all teaching positions-of which he aspired employment with. The world could use more lazy people like Marx who learned to read and write (fluently) in 5 languages (German, Russian, French, Latin, and English-the last, and of which he wrote in). The world could use more petty thieves who, though economically oppressed and marginalized from pursuing his “earned” vocation, nonetheless, brings decades of “intellectual labor” to a fruition he knows will be lost on 99% of the people, yet, also knows are the seeds (flawed, but fertile) for future liberation. Lastly, if more of our PMC had the moral and intellectual spine of Marx, our institutions and society would be considerably healthier and genuinely robust.

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    • Great post. Hopefully there will be a rebirth of serious Marxist analysis, the ultimate purpose of which is learning how to correctly fight for and achieve a classless society (not merely a “socialist” society). Right now class consciousness is virtually nonexistent, at least in the U.S. and North America, and the oppressors now include lots of privileged people who love to pontificate about and demean working class “deplorables” who don’t buy their pseudo-enlightened rhetoric.

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  16. In the song “Get up, Stand Up”(for your rights), Bob Marley says it best, and I agree: I’M SICK AND TIRED OF YOUR ISMS-SCHISMS”. Karl Marx, and his sordid ilk, are just one more isms-schismists. Let Marx & psychiatry BOTH rot on the scrap hep of history where they belong.
    I am honored & flattered that Richard Lewis cites me in a comment above. I both enjoy and value, and respect Richard and his views. His take on Marxism is valuable as an analytical and rhetorical device. But Marx is OBSOLETE.

    And he’s unfair to Szasz, too. Look at the knowledge of the time Szasz worked. Szasz did NOT know then what we know now. “Anti-psychiatry” describes 2 distinct versions of that, and both are confused and conflated here in both the article and the comments. I personally reject the label “anti-psychiatry” because it gives psychiatry more legitimacy and validity than it deserves. Why would I claim to be “anti-astrology”, or “anti-phrenology”? Or “anti-pseudoscience””? All the same.

    Given what we ALL here know about PhRMA, and it’s LIES, why should we think Covid1984 is any different? So-called “germ theory” is on the ropes against “terrain theory”, which is a more mature and holistic understanding. Perhaps Richard really doesn’t know about VAERS, VICC, and the $100 Million/year industry Congress created in 1986, when BLANKET IMMUNITY against product liability was granted PhRMA? Or that Covid1984 vaxxes are even MORE immune to legal challenge? Richard is such a good little guinea pig! I think this is partly because he chooses the familiar prison of Marxist mindfuckery.
    So, while I might vivisect Richards words & ideas, still, I have a deep respect for Mr. Richard D. Lewis, personally. His words & ideas inspired an excellent conversation here. Now, Richard, you really need to read some basic Buddhism regarding the nature of duality, – a central feature of human REALITY. Yes, we CAN BOTH BE CORRECT. I disagree with Richard, but I’m glad he comments here! Good to see you again, Richard, and please KEEP UP the GOOD WORK!

    (BTW, no, I couldn’t write well on neuroleptics….)….

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  17. Hey there Dr. Levine, I liked your article very much. I’m a simple girl.
    I’m someone who blackmailed my captors to withdraw me ‘safely’ & change their ‘lifelong (9 years & counting), acute, chronic’ bipolar 1 diagnoses…and their nasty little SMI certification.
    They had carelessly plunged me into anaphylaxis and knew that I knew…THIS TIME a lethal side-effect couldn’t be blamed as a symptom of MY “worsening mental illness”.

    Quietly, privately they offered their CMO (BH managed care) to guide me thru 2 years of withdrawal as his only client, a brain lesion, & 3 additional years of 29 seizures.
    All that to avoid a possible, relatively minor lawsuit…that I never had to mention. They also had to agree to change the ‘lifelong’ diagnoses..I am now officially NOS Anxious…no sh*t.

    So here it is…they were willing to jettison all the absolutes of their industry…diagnoses & damaging ‘treatment’…with no apology or ‘WTF just happened here?’ convo…if I would quietly go age (gratefully) somewhere far away from them.
    My book is almost finished…I began writing about this in 2018 on another site, published here as “Full Moral Status” in 2019. Paula Caplan encouraged me long-distance.
    I have joyously reclaimed, rebuilt, & relocated my life at 71…with an abundance of purpose…primarily to laugh.
    Oh, & I reached out to Allen Frances & invited him to read the effect he had had on my life-(the 2004 diagnosis spawned by his DSM-IV.) He replied “You’re welcome and I look forward to reading it”.
    Bless his disgraceful heart.
    Keep writing…it’s encouraging and interesting for many.

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  18. Szasz did not go hard against psychiatry because he is psychiatrist who believes his clients. I think he even made a comment that he waited until he had freedom of profession, reputation to say what he needed.

    Capitalist vs marxist arguments are so futile and often so dishonest. A country cannot live one without the other. You all can make millions of dollars but you still need a highway, a hospital, and an airport that is built for the collective.
    To make this argument is painful because it splits the mind. We are individualist society to a point but also collective cause we have children, families, and friends and work with others. We aint living up in the mountains anymore!
    Even our mind is not individual. Think hard and think what you are thinking about most of the time – hopefully not all the time. You are not thinking of your dog, or a tree but others and others and you – so even the mind is not individualist but collective of you and others. It has a clear collective and individualism parts (it belongs to you) but it also carries others, as memories, as representations etc! After some real pure love, can you empty the mind. Then you empty the mind but still you need others for even when you die, someone must bury you! somehow! The collective remains.

    Those who may not need psychiatry, somehow, accept this dualities and got busy doing something else.

    Szazs is saying, from my understanding, people lose their minds sometimes but only when we collectively say so. There are many places on earth where having bipolar or depression is not seen as a thing but just part of life…no one is pointing figures, there is no shame (the pointing the finger from the others), and one has their families and work and life and go on…Just some are very sick and hopefully have a family person to take care of them – we cannot run away from others – the collective!

    but here, we give the depression or the label of bipolar an individuality and make them into an entity and of course it is hard to lose this titles no matter what one does because we tell them you are your own – individual and responsible what happens inside of you and what happens outside of you! we create a hard closed system that would give anyone a real madness! cause no way out!

    The truth is sometimes the collective causes madness (by erasing you to priviledge everybody else) and sometimes the individual system causes madness (making you responsible for everything internal and external) and sometimes both combined (creating a whole system – psychiatry – that is given so much power legally and socially).

    Step back like Szasz did and it is a farce until you fell into he system – then a nightmare!

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    • There are no”capitalist vs. Marxist arguments” taking place here, just people talking to themselves in the guise of conversation — I would venture a guess that no two people here mean the same thing by “communism” or “capitalism,” or “marxism.” It’s much easier to avoid serious discussion by simply aligning with an “ism” than articulating principles in a methodical manner. Then again, nothing new there.

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  19. In Massachusetts, Dr. Janet Wozniak is a protege of Dr. Joseph Biederman. In turn, the Psychiatrist that diagnosed me initially (a diagnosis that has since been tossed), is Dr. Joseph Shrand. He is a protege of Dr. Wozniak- a claim he makes on his YouTube channel. He is also chummy with Biederman and interviews him on his channel. Looks like I got really unlucky with the quack gang.

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