Why Do We Lock People Up?


In hundreds of cities around the world, angry mobs have blockaded government offices or parliaments, or even brought cities to a halt, protesting over rules requiring everybody to wear masks or stay home unless immunised against Covid. The fury these emergency measures have provoked is unprecedented; people have attacked police, security and health staff, apparently unaware that there is nothing new in these measures. Every country in the world has had far, far more burdensome restrictions in place for the past hundred years.

Every day, in every country, people who have not broken any laws have practically the whole of their human rights suspended indefinitely, without a formal judicial hearing, all on unsworn hearsay evidence and with practically no right of appeal. Nobody has waved a placard on their behalf, nobody stormed parliament or blockaded an entire city, as in Ottawa. Nobody listens to them, TV reporters don’t queue to hear their stories but mostly they’re not allowed to speak to the media. Their phones are confiscated, no access to the internet or email, their visitors are limited or even searched, reading and writing material is censored. They can be locked in small rooms for long periods, wrestled to the ground, stripped naked, injected with drugs they don’t want, all with no right of redress.

And most bizarre of all, nobody cares. If you tell anybody that this happens in our country, they are outraged but when you explain that these unfortunates are civilian psychiatric patients, everybody dismisses it. “Oh stop worrying,” they say with a laugh, “we’re doing it for their good.” Is that true?

As long as there have been records, society’s treatment of the mentally-disturbed has been appalling. Most histories of psychiatry gloss over the institutionalised brutality visited upon their charges’ heads because it was done with good intentions. The institution of psychiatry itself simply ignores its atrocities but the real question is this: Why do the atrocities keep recurring? If being compelled to wear a mask in public is enough to cause a riot, why does society accept that brutal treatment of the mentally-troubled is reasonable and justified? What is the authority, what is the justification? This is where it gets a bit confusing because they are different issues.

The authority for suspending the civil rights of the mentally-disturbed comes from specific legislation enacted for that purpose. As bad as it may sound, legislatures can do that: ultimately, your human rights are only what the men with the guns say they are. But the justification is something else again so we can look at the pandemic to get an idea of what it means.

Most legislators know nothing about medical conditions. In early 2020, when it became clear a deadly viral illness was spreading rapidly, governments asked their epidemiologists what they should do. The advice said: “This is a highly infectious condition which causes serious illnesses with a substantial death rate. Unprecedented measures are needed to contain the infection before it gets out of control.”

That was the justification for the restrictions enacted by one legislature after another because without restrictions, the illness and death rates would have been very much worse. Historically, this is well accepted. I recall that during the polio epidemics in the early 1950s, sick people were quarantined but such was the fear that everybody accepted it as essential. It was the same with TB and leprosy: infected people were sent to sanitoria for treatment, partly for their benefit but mainly to stop it spreading. Where I grew up, regular chest X-rays were compulsory for all adults until the late 1950s.

In each condition, the justification for the loss of civil liberties was straightforward: an infected person has a duty not to infect others, and other people’s right to health overrides the sick individual’s right to move about freely. Everybody accepted that the greater public good outweighed the individual’s temporary loss of rights. There was also the practical matter that if sick people wandered at large, the health services wouldn’t be able to cope and the death rate would be much higher. What would have happened to a person who refused treatment? I don’t know, probably they would have been put out the back somewhere and left to die. In the late 1960s, as a medical student, I saw people who refused treatment for cancers. They were allowed to go home to die in peace.

But when it comes to mental disorder, what is the justification for the unparalleled restrictions authorised by the legislation? In Queensland, where I live, people detained under mental health legislation have fewer rights than convicted prisoners yet they haven’t been through anything like an impartial judicial process. There must be a most powerful reason for these measures, but what is it? What is the evidence that convinces legislatures that the mentally-troubled should routinely be treated more harshly than any convicted criminal in the country? To be justified, it must produce a powerful and measurable benefit for either the society or for the individual.

The first possibility is that mentally-troubled people are infectious but we needn’t waste time on that idea. There is no general medical evidence to justify detention of mentally-disturbed people.

Next possibility is the theme so dear to the febrile scribblers of the Murdoch media, that mentally-disturbed people are dangerous and need to be locked up so citizens aren’t strangled in their beds at night. There are two objections to this idea. First, preventive detention doesn’t exist on the law books. People can’t be locked up on the possibility they may commit offences otherwise there’d be very few bankers on the loose. Second, there is no evidence that individually or as a group, mentally-disturbed people are more dangerous than undiagnosed people. People with a diagnosis of chronic psychosis tend to collect convictions but these are mostly minor, such as refusing to move or piddling on a cop’s leg. For sure, there are dangerous people out there but most of them are perfectly sane and far too clever to attract attention as the mentally-disordered do. We can conclude there is no legal basis and no criminological evidence to justify detaining non-criminals.

Third possibility: Detaining the mentally-troubled produces a general benefit for the society as a whole, like preventing hate speech or blocking developers from bulldozing cemeteries. That doesn’t work. These types of restrictions are very specific, directed at a single purpose only, and society has moved away from them.

Possibility #4: We are a caring society that does not want to see the mentally-disturbed wandering around in distress, so we lock them up to make sure they get the treatment they need to become well-adjusted, productive members of society. That could possibly be true if we were indeed a caring society but we’re not. However, this argument actually has traction in individual cases. During mental health tribunal hearings, psychiatrists often say they have safe, effective treatment to relieve the individual’s distress.

Of course, there is no objective evidence to support this type of claim. We know  that people who have been on long-term psychiatric drugs die, on average, decades younger than their undrugged peers. This is a drug effect, unrelated to diagnosis. It’s not the condition that kills them, it’s the treatment.

My experience of tribunal hearings is that this claim is batted around freely but more importantly, the non-medical members of the tribunal find it irresistible. None of them want to be seen as the person who denied a sick person effective treatment. My further experience is that arguing against it is a waste of time as the lawyers say “Well, Prof. X says it’s safe so we have to go with the weight of authority.” Kowtowing to authority also saves them the effort of having to sift through and weigh up reams of complex evidence, as in “think independently.”

Fifth and final possibility: There are strong theoretical grounds to believe that detaining people and subjecting them to involuntary treatment produces a better outcome than not doing so. Put this way, it’s ludicrous but it’s the sort of thing legislators listen to, especially when it comes from respected professors, but it needs to be examined.

First we need to ask: Better outcome for whom? There is no evidence that forcing people to take treatment against their will leads to a better result for them, their families or for the larger society. Sure, it’s good for the drug companies and for job security of the staff of hospitals and services but that’s a different issue.

Second, and more to the point, which particular theory are we talking about? It’s all very well to say “We believe on theoretical grounds that they should be locked up,” and that would probably convince the average legislator, but we’re talking about human rights here. There is a treaty called the Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities, CRPD, which has a lot to say about locking up people who have broken no laws. Also, the recent reports of the UN Rapporteur on the rights of the disabled spoke strongly about this. Any such theory would have to be supported by overwhelming evidence, as strong as, say, the theory of gravity. It’s difficult to argue against gravity so what theories does psychiatry have?

First option is the well-known biological theory of mental disorder, which goes back several hundred years in the form of “mental disease is brain disease.” Here we run into a problem. Despite the vast sums of money spent on biological research in psychiatry (Thomas Insel said about $20 billion in his 13 years as director of NIMH), psychiatrists somehow forgot to write a theory that could justify it. Nobody has ever written anything that could amount to a reductionist theory or model of mental disorder. The biological approach to mental disorder is an ideology of mental disorder, not a science. It cannot be used to justify involuntary treatment.

We needn’t spend much time on the next two theories, Freudian psychoanalysis and behaviorism. As theories, both of them have been discredited although they survive as technologies, psychoanalsysis as dynamic psychotherapy, and behaviorism as CBT. Technologies are not theories, so that won’t work. In any event, neither of them addressed the question of detaining people for treatment and it would have gone against their grain anyway.

Fourth, we have the well-known and widely-supported biopsychosocial model, attributed to the late George Engel, of Rochester, NY. Engel was a gastroenterologist, not a psychiatrist, and he hardly mentioned mental disorder but psychiatrists have eagerly embraced his model. Trouble is, while Dr Engel gave his model a memorable name, he forgot to fill in the details. He didn’t say what it models. Is it a model of mind? Mental disorder? Personality or personality disorder? Is it a model of mind-body interaction, or of treatment, or just what? He never said, but it gets worse: beyond the three word name, there are no other details. His model consists of three words only.

I have argued that he made an elementary philosophical mistake but that’s beside the point. What counts is that anybody who says there is a biopsychosocial model in psychiatry and claims to know what it does is repeating a falsehood. That spurious model can never be used to justify detention and enforced treatment.

This is all rather sad, pointing to a science of mental disorder without a model of its subject matter. Philosophers of science would say that immediately disqualifies psychiatry as a science but fortunately, we have a new cab off the rank. At about 80,000 words, the biocognitive model is somewhat larger than all the theories available in today’s psychiatry combined. It is a highly developed computational theory of mind which leads to a model of personality, and thence to models of mental disorder and of personality disorder. As the author, I can state flatly that there is nothing in that work that could possibly justify detention and enforced treatment of mentally-disordered people. Indeed, there is a lot that says we shouldn’t be doing it.

So that’s it. End of the line. We have to conclude that there is no medical evidence, no legal basis and no criminological evidence to justify involuntary treatment. There is no evidence that treatment is necessarily better than no treatment, and plenty that says it isn’t. Finally, there is no theoretical justification for taking this draconian step.

In the era of “evidence-based psychiatry,” what’s left? We know society’s answer, and it’s just this:

“That’s how it’s always been. We lock innocent people up because we’ve always done it in the past, and changing that policy is just too much trouble. So, since the mentally-disturbed don’t have many votes or lots of rich relatives who can influence politicians, we’ll just keep doing it. And if they complain, we can always get a psychiatrist to say that complaining is typical of the insane and they need more treatment, not less.”

Problem solved, to the satisfaction of those who don’t suffer.

But human rights are more important than bureaucratic convenience. And even though in the hard-edged world of rational medicine, human rights don’t count as evidence, we look forward to somebody, anybody, who claims to support an “evidence-based psychiatry” producing some evidence, any evidence, that can support this heinous state of affairs. Failing that, we need to ask whether this medieval practice should continue.


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. “First option is the well-known biological theory of mental disorder, which goes back several hundred years in the form of “mental disease is brain disease.” This is uzurpation in which biology of the psyche ought to be ideological obedient to the narrow ideologies of monism ( spirit, materialism). This is fallacy and false narrative. Theological judgement/condemnation in the mouth of the empty atheistic followers of materialism – definition of psychiatry. Psychiatry is a devil himself, and medical uzurpation is a harbinger of antichrist of technocracy. This is not even a medicine, this is ego cult of power and consumerism, in which the real aristocracy (psychological man) is seen as dirty and unwanted. Because normal people are completely empty on psychological level and they do not even know that monism is an extreme antipsychological fundamentalism manifested as religion of scientism. Science can not function beyond the real image of the psyche, because it will become the image of the beast. Extreme materialism, that what psychiatry is. And psyche is not materialism or medical empiricism. It is forgotten perspective of seeing. Psychiatry is a definition of normalcy and its narrow mind, not the psyche. Removing value of the psyche and glorification of the useless normalcy or statistics – this is not help. This is communism.

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      • This is when you neglect the individual in favor of the collective. Pure materialism. We are not a posessors of the psyche, our small ego depends on sth which is beyond control of ego. Scientism needs facts so it is using the brain theory to destroy mythical imagination. Medicine is a form of greedy materialism, and marxism reversed the meaning of the psyche. The problem is not the pathology but the psychopathy of mental health, the psychopathy of psychiatry. To help psyche, means -to give back stolen meaning. Psychiatry based on DSM, gives you a label. Label it is not a definition of identity. Label is rather a definition of psychiatry.

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    • Until you can define “communism” and “marxism” please stop using them, your comments might make more sense.

      “Psychopathy” is a psychiatric term so it is useless as a way of defining psychiatry, which is a ruse itself. Easier to say that “mental illness” doesn’t exist at all and psychiatry is a scam.

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      • I defend anyone’s right to use the words, “communism” or “marxism” or even “socialism” and speak against it. This is because all three, which have shades of difference, are forms of government that are very ant-human and even anti-animal and anti-plant, etc. One especially is predominant in these alleged governmental forms is actually how they are akin to psychiatry, especially as it is practiced currently in the “Westernized World.” Thank you.

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  2. Because the mental patient is a collective and unconscious fabrication which serves the role of scapegoat.
    It is even the ultimate scapegoat, since he/she is supposed to be devoid of inhumanity and reason.

    The truth is that he/she is the cathartic receptacle of the vulnerability and ‘madness’ (the word is awkward but i use it for its simplicity) which people dont want to see in themselves.
    So they simply project it on a powerless receptacle and brutalize her/him.

    She/he is not a person anymore, but an instrument of exorcism, of which efficiency rests on the degree of inhumanity that is smeared unto her/him.

    Sometimes I just want to destroy the whole humanity like in Prometheus…. Such a dismal species.

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      • Why Do We Lock People Up

        We live in large industrial societies where people are managed and supposed to conform, and if people step out of line they can get locked up as a warning to other people, or as a punishment , or for reasons of official convenience.
        This doesn’t just happen in some countries, it happens in most countries.

        London Evening Standard 26 October 2021
        “…‘Concerning’ rise in number of people being sectioned:
        New data show that 53,239 people were detained under the Mental Health Act in England in 2020/21….”

        UK Prison Population Statistics
        Research Briefing
        Published Friday, 29 October, 2021
        “…78,756 prisoners in England and Wales,…”

        The Sectioning of a person depends on Doctors Opinions, it doesn’t really go through a legal process, and it can be easily Abused. The sectioned person can be seriously damaged or even killed in Hospital – with no recourse.

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    • I agree with the scapegoat concept.

      I have noticed this phenomenon throughout healthcare. Once they give you a mental health diagnosis and it is irrelevant if that diagnosis is correct or not, then it becomes easier for the doctor/nurse/clinician to dehumanize you.

      For example my gastrointestinal tract shut down so therefore I must be mentally ill because if it shuts down in normal sane people what would stop it from happening to them. So therefore instead of damage to my nerves, I must be mentally ill. Nerve damage can not happen in normal people.

      Once they have dehumanized you, then it becomes easier for them to abuse the “ill” patient because they are not treating another human. They see you as less than human.

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  3. Reading Women of the Asylum by Jefffrey Geller and Maxine Harris, a collection of voices, first person lived experience accounts, from across US history until 1945. The complaints are the same complaints I have from 2013, and have heard from other contemporaries. The wardens are looney (Warner Bros cartoon spelling), the place makes people insane, there is no treatment, just brutality.

    Adeline T. P. Lunt in the late 1800s: “INSANE ASYLYUM. A place where insanity is made.”

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  4. Hi Niall,
    why do we lock them up? Good question. I have a guess even though I never allowed that to happen to my wife.

    We let them be locked up to spare ourselves the scary and discomforting witnessing of extreme states. The first 5 years of the healing journey with my wife, we were inundated by her extreme states and each new one was, honestly, rather scary for me to witness. When she hit the ground in a comatose episode: freak me out. When her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she looked like she was experiencing a mild seizure: Breathe, Sam! When she hid under the table at home or under clothes racks out in public in terror and panic…wth? When she tried to jump out of our car going 70mph on the highway, repeatedly, or wanted store-bought fairy-wings so she could jump and fly off a building top…ahhh!!!!…when she was hitting furniture and falling down our stairs so often she was black and blue for more than a year that I was afraid of being accused of spousal abuse…and all the voices she started to hear which our culture assures us make people dangerous and unpredictable….you know…it’s exhausting…it’s overwhelming…it’s scary…it didn’t make sense at first…and I honestly didn’t know how to protect her from herself…I honestly thought I was going to lose her to one of these episodes!

    And so we capitulate to the logical fallacy of ‘appeal to authority’, the experts who claim to have the magic cures with their pills, ECT, and all their indecipherable words and diagnoses and theories of mental ‘illness’ instead of using our love, compassion and brains for the ones we love…It really would have been so much easier (for me) to have drug my wife or passed her off to the ‘experts’ instead of our son and I caring for her 24/7 for 5 years until I walked her thru all the extreme states and figured out how to help her heal from them to the point they are a distant memory at this point.

    So I wonder if we do the unthinkable to those who are struggling to save ourselves the stress of having to walk with them thru it all…and I’m not suggesting this to shame any who have done so or elevate myself. I know the family member’s and spouses’ pain. I know their fear. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t do that to my wife other than some part of me just couldn’t do that to the woman I love. I remember the day I told myself I had to grow up and be the adult in our relationship right now because she needed me to do so and couldn’t do it herself at that moment.
    idk…just a thought…

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    • Hi Sam,
      An amazing story of courage and compassion. Your wife was indeed fortunate to have such a caring husband. Of course I have no idea what proceeded your wife’s dilemma but am wondering if you ever looked into the concept of spiritual emergency–that is, could your wife have been going through a state of seeing the world with new perceptions that most people cannot understand. In the case of so-called “schizophrenia” there are alternative ways of seeing it: “[A] natural and temporary self-healing process involving the removal of illusions and false beliefs which originate in the programming of social conditioning and which inhibit the psychological growth necessary for effective adaptability. The apparent ‘craziness’ of so-called schizophrenia is the sign of the person’s passage into a higher level of consciousness.” While I am sure you may not want to “revisit” the painful time your wife was going through it all, I just wondered if you had ever considered the concept I am suggesting.
      All the best to you and your family!

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      • Hi Louisa,
        I am aware of that line of thinking though only on a superficial level. I can’t really answer for my wife, but from my perspective most of what she experienced seemed to be various dissociative effects of the original trauma, and as I helped her hold and heal the trauma, then we could begin the hard work of reconnecting the various, dissociated parts of her greater self…and then those issues largely resolved themselves.
        I think both of us have grown as people having walked thru the hell that we did, but I wouldn’t call it a higher consciousness, just maybe a greater awareness of what really makes us all tick as human beings…but maybe that is one and the same with what you are suggesting…idk…

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  5. “We” don’t lock people up — the system that your colleagues (at least) serve, either overtly or through silence, locks people up using psychiatric “justifications.”

    Now that you understand that there is no “philosophical basis for psychiatry” (other than control) you might consider returning your “credentials,” like the Vietnam vets who threw their medals back. This would probably have a greater effect than anything you write (although the fact that you have alienated your colleagues is a positive).

    How far away are you from totally dismissing and exposing the fraudulent precepts and oppressive practices of psychiatry?

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    • Although I happen to agree with you about the profession, the fact that Dr. McLaren is a psychiatrist and is trying to expose the terrible wrongs could benefit us all. Working “within” the system means he has access to what is really happening, rather than trying to fight from without which can be MUCH harder!
      Let’s not forget that R.D. Laing was a psychiatrist as was John Weir Perry and Stanley R Dean. There are others fighting the system now like Peter Breggin.

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    • “like the Vietnam Vets who threw their medals back.” I am a proud daughter of a Vietnam Vet who did not throw his medals back, but served proudly, and passed away in a Veteran’s Hospital nine years ago. Those who threw their medals back—it was their decision. But there are many who did not and to equate to them psychiatrists renouncing their credentials is, in my opinion, tragically absurd. It is time we thank all our veterans for their service, especially the Vietnam Vets. This would seek to heal the unfortunate wounds foisted upon our Vietnam Vets, partly by mass media and it would also heal their families, their spouses and their children who, also, suffered from such misguided thinking prevalent at that time. It is time to heal the wounds of the past and to bring up “Vietnam Vets who threw their medals back.” is both spurious and hurtful. I am sorry to disagree with you, but, like they say, “this is personal.” Thank you.

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    “..He occupies himself delving into the philosophical basis of psychiatry, only to find there isn’t one…”

    It’s nice to see you again, Dr Niall.

    When I stopped taking my medication (very gradually) I suffered from “Almost Disabling Very High Anxiety”.

    I’ve heard it said, that “Anxiety” comes from somewhere else and can play itself out in Present Day Problems; and if investing IT, in these problems can be Avoided, and IT can be allowed to Wind down – then the Anxiety eventually dissipates and Problems can be seen in a “Neutral Manner” :- This over time, is how I Recovered.

    The Psychiatrists problem with me was that I was Incapable of Applying myself to Routine. My problem was that the Psychiatric Drug (Fluphenazine) was causing uncontrollable Restlessness and Suicide Attempts.

    I’m 61 now, and over the years I haven’t gotten everything I wanted – But I’m quite HAPPY.

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  7. Peter Breggin, following Foucault, explains that the reason that Psychiatry was invented was to justify incarcerating homeless people who are breaking no law.

    Frances Fox-Piven explains that the way we have our public assistance programs set up is not to provide for the needs of the poor, but to put the poor through a series of ritual humiliations so that they can be used as a symbol of what happens to people who become destitute. It maintains work place and political compliance.

    I know that Australia has gone to a medical police state over COVID. CA Governor Gavin Newsom went in 2020 to daily COVID press conferences where he scolded us because there continued to be new cases. I said back then that with Gavin’s Gaslighting and Grandstanding he is trying to turn California into a 40 million bed mental hospital.

    Then he was silenced for a while because of a recall attempt. Now he is at it again, trying to create mental health courts and subject the homeless to involuntary psychiatric drugging.


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  8. Thank you, Niall, for so logically explaining “that there is no medical evidence, no legal basis and no criminological evidence to justify involuntary treatment.”

    I agree, our current “mental health system” is in a “heinous state of affairs;” and the “medieval practice” of force drugging people should end. Many thanks to the honest psychiatrists, like yourself, who are speaking the truth.

    And I guess the only other slice of wisdom I may give to the masses of non-repentant “mental health professionals,” comes from a power higher than myself, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”

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  9. Hi Niall.

    When I first read about the philosophy of psychiatry I was absolutely floored by how shallow it is.

    I knew nonsense as soon as I read it.

    How can anyone that swallows such guff justify considering themselves intelligent people and under what authority can they judge me to be suffering from a delusion of grandeur for pointing out that I’m simply not as stupid as them?

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    • It is somewhat stunning that people can’t see the utter shallowness of the psychiatric/DSM worldview. Just reading the names of the “disorders” is enough to make a rational person laugh out loud! “Oppositional Defiant Disorder?” How do you know you have it? Because you won’t do as you’re told!!! “Intermittent Explosive Disorder?” “Disorder of Written Expression?” How is any of this taken seriously???

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      • When one is in a position of being confronted by the psychiatrist with a a brain creating a mind that is operating in a manner discovering rich possibilities, how can you suggest an utter shallowness of the psychiatric/DSM worldview? If one perhaps had studied more? Or came into the connectivity/access realized through MAD? The assumption is that the world has beaten a path to this site? All those who figured out how to realize incredible dollars treating problems in part created by the pharma and prescriptions? How long will these economies be given license? Who will speak for those that have forfeited their lives? Where will the financial claims window be? (Predicated on “Never Again?”)

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  10. The very industry of creating wealth, that is to realize liquidity manufactured and expanded the business of for profit prisons, pharma and the tools by which to realize a certain order, that is imposed upon people. The Uses of Disorder would be written by Richard Sennett, a great teacher, who had hoped to become a violinist. In my journey, to have been drawn into the language of both the ARTS in the Sciences to attempt to understand LIFE, when forced to go back on the meds, triggered an experiment, that was not sanctioned nor understood. In trying to understand my madness and then the collective understanding by which better theories can be advanced, even within the language of psychology/psychiatry, from an economical fashion, means less words, better writing. To communicate, when one is made to be an island, due to the attitudes of bankers, business, even religious leaders, a community, then where is the loss occurring of each letter being typed does not reflect the resources vested? Discovered an incredible book, The Lords of Easy Money: How the Federal Reserve Broke the American Economy. By Christopher Leonard. I would suggest a reading by all viewers, staff and c/s/x for to realize a better response, and understanding where the adjustment needs to occur perhaps is within all of us. But without access to knowledge we will perish, as many have. See this reference from the book: http://www.jamlab.us/downloads/Documents/DillonRead_1.112506as.pdf

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  11. Dr McLaren is absolutely right. This injustice happened to me: I was beaten up at home on weekend leave from the psychiatric hospital, my abusive (late) mother told my elder sister to go and ring the psychiatric hospital, she did, screaming: “Take her away! Take her away!” And they did, no questions asked, never saying who they were or anything. My mother had told them I had threatened someone with a knife which was a lie. Fortunately, the person I was supposed to have threatened wrote a letter to the psychiatrist and said it never happened. But all this was quite legal under the Mental Health Act in England. Can happen to anyone so don’t believe it can’t.

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  12. Why do we lock people up? To ruin their lives and torture them because better her than me, says mother, brother, former friend, neighbor, cop, doctor, teacher, academia, AG, governor, nun, pope, medical establishment, mainstream press, state and federal government, even god damn god.

    daily reasonable panic attack since February 22-28, 2013

    things only get worse due to state sanctioned retaliation and real terrors caused by unacknowledged criminal psychiatry (health failing, inability to support myself, isolation, inadequate support, resulting mental torture and reasonable depression, imposed terror in advancing age)

    death from criminal psychiatry by God in America would be more merciful than the mental torture I endure

    too much, too long, body please have mercy

    hoping against reason I break through and someone publishes my memoir just prolongs pain and even that acknowledgement wouldn’t be enough to heal what criminal psychiatry by God in America and retaliation have done to me

    no hope for me isn’t a paranoid view

    no one can live a life worth living without hope

    death penalty instead of this mental torture


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    • It is your international human right to refuse medical treatment of any kind. This incudes psychiatric treatment, of any kind. The (mostly Western) countries that do not respect this UN Human Right also mostly have “epidemics” of psychiatric illness.

      This does not stop you from asserting your right to refuse, quite the contrary. Although you had better be well prepared for the consequences by getting your timing and approach sorted out first.

      The strategy I recommend is a three stage mantra stated clearly, matter-of-factly, and with endless repetition, any way you can get it out (you’ll already having the worst day in your life so don’t worry about your delivery of the message, focus on coherently getting it out):

      1. when treatment is threatened:
      “I refuse this medical treatment under my international human right to refuse it” (pursuant to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD));
      2. when treatment is being prescribed or administered: “I have already refused this medical treatment, and procuring me for treatment without consent is a violation of my international human right to refuse it”;
      3. after treatment is started: “this treatment is a violation of my international human right to refuse it. I will hold you, and you will be held, accountable for the crime* of procuring a person for psychiatric treatment who does not have a psychiatric illness”.

      *Note that it is not necessarily a crime in your country, but that hardly matters, it bloody well ought to be, and in any case you have the legal protection of already being legally incompetent – you can say whatever you need to say to threaten them with legal consequences. This may be your only shot at protesting the flagrant violation of your right to refuse. So protest like your life depended on it, because, your life does depend on it.

      Now just remember, if you are in a vulnerable position, this could result in a tragic outcome for you, including drug overdoses resulting in permanent severe disability or death. Choose your battles carefully, but if an opportunity arises to complain, then the above is the complaint you need to make. Nothing else will have any effect on these people, and its unlikely this will either. But if we all do this then things will change.

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      • IMPORTANT NOTE to the above – successfully refusing a psychiatric drug treatment that has already been commenced will almost always require you to slowly reduce the amount taken. If you are successful in your request be aware that suddenly stopping these drugs can have dangerous withdrawal side effects, including rebound psychosis. Ensure that respecting your right to stop treatment respects the need to safely withdraw from the drug, and that you are not being subjected to a secondary abuse of these drugs in suddenly discontinuing them. A worst offender in this respect is Effexor, which can take 18 months to withdraw from. Research internet user group forums on withdrawing from your particular drug.

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        • Your comment is very interesting. It appears the point being made is that if you choose to refuse further treatment and attempt withdrawals from the psychiatric drug or drugs, you affect not only yourself, but others. Yes, this is true. It is also true that if you continue on this drug or drugs, you will affect not only yourself but others. It is also true that withdrawal from any one of these psychiatric drugs can take months or even years, whether it is abrupt (“cold turkey”) or the tapering method. it is also perhaps true that these psychiatric drugs may even remain in the system past withdrawal. However, it is important to reiterate that these psychiatric drugs can and do cause brain damage, metabolic damage, and even damage to other organs. Continued use of these drugs can shorten the lifespan of the individual. This affects not only oneself, but others, also. How one makes that choice depends on the individual. In my case, the choice was made for me. After many years on psychiatric drugs, my brain/body fell into a nearly comatose state and I almost died. There was a moment of time that it was even considered I would need long term care because I would be either in a vegetative state or near vegetative state. As it is said, I thank God that I am still alive. The problem may that these psychiatric drugs can and do, unfortunately, kill and that affects other people also. Yes, research can help the withdrawal process, but there are many of us who never even had that chance. Like many drugs, it is better to not even begin them. Perhaps, the best thing for us to do is to promote the concept of education before accepting the prescription. This is a difficult one, as it seems there are increasingly more and more accepted for use. I think if we begin with promoting education, then each person can make a wise choice whether to accept the prescription or not. But it is an uphill battle and it may years. But the question may be is the battle worth the lives of the vulnerable? Each of us must uniquely answer that question. Also, the question needs to be asked to help those already using these drugs to assist their finding a safe way out. This may not help everyone. I was one of the individuals that it probably would not have helped, because even after my near death experience, it took me another two years before I realized that it was the drugs who did the damage. At that time, my brain/body reject any remaining drugs that I was taking such as lithium. I don’t have any real answers, except that each person needs caring support so their life can be saved and they also need to ability to make an educated decision on this matter. Of course, there are still those who apparently have no choice in their decision, such as children and even those who must take these drugs as consequences of legal actions taken actions against them. This, too, is an uphill battle as to how to protect such vulnerable people. Thank you.

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      • For me? sandgroper?

        The above including the following:

        “Now just remember, if you are in a vulnerable position, this could result in a tragic outcome for you, including drug overdoses resulting in permanent severe disability or death. Choose your battles carefully, but if an opportunity arises to complain, then the above is the complaint you need to make.”

        Please note: this mansplaining well after the fact is not helpful or wanted. Don’t direct your lecture at me to feed your ego. Be reproached. Feel free to instruct others, but not me, not in this way.

        You think I need stranger not using its real name to tell me this shit in this way now? You’re wrong.

        Ever hear of the scold’s bridle? I just read about it, again. How I wish it could be still used, on psychiatrists and others.

        Redirect your energies, please.

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        • The use of “you” and “your” for both singular and plural forms in English is a unfortunate ambiguity. This is not the case on other languages – German in particular makes the plural of “you/your” completely clear, and it is not necessary to have to explain (in German) that by “your” I meant the collective singular, not the second person singular. My first sentence would have been better put as follows:

          “It is everyone’s international human right to refuse medical treatment of any kind. This incudes psychiatric treatment, of any kind.”

          The reply was intended for whoever wanted to read it – everyone – including yourself, so in that sense it was directed at your comment, not you, but my use of “your” does not impart this, so offense is able to be taken, albeit not intended. That is a risk I’m willing to accept when I am not accusing the “you” I am referring to, and investing too much energy into perfecting my prose would be unnecessary.

          I hope that answers your first question.

          By ‘…mansplaining well after the fact…’ I assume you refer to the sexist anti-male term of “the explanation of something by a man, typically to a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.”

          My answer to the first question also applies here. It was in reply to your comment to everyone, not just you. I was directing my reply to whoever wanted to read it. As for “after the fact”, the comment was made in the same fact of my first reply. That is not “after the fact”, but during the fact. Therefore, there is no “mansplaining” on my part, anymore than you have tried to “mansplain” something to me.

          I note also that you are guessing my sex as I purposefully do not publish it. I dont feel any particular need to respond to your projection of sexual belittlement onto me, but will state that your are also incorrect in the sense that you have no idea what sex I am.

          That said, misandronist accusations have no place here any more than misogynist ones. You ought to withdraw your misandronist accusation of “mansplaining” solely on the basis of sexist language toward other contributors having no place on this site other than to complain about it.

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        • With all due respect, I do not think “sandgroper” is either “mansplaining” of attempting to lecture anyone of feed her ego. I only think that she is stating the facts regarding complaints made, the laws and directives, and the possible consequences. Every act does have consequences and must be fully addressed before committing that act, even acts that could produce good. Sometimes, even an act that could produce good, can leave an unintentional trail of evil which must and should be addressed, if possible. This is as t rue with psychiatry, as with any other issue affecting each one of us personally, or society, or the world, for that matter. There are parts of her statements that I both agree and disagree with, but I definitely respect her right to state her knowledge and her opinion. Of course, this is my humble and unique opinion and can be disregarded, if so desired. Thank you.

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  13. If you are even in the arm chair in the office of psychotherapist you have to understand that whatever you are going to say, you might as well just go down the police station and tell it to the desk sergeant, because this is where it will end up. The law requires this.


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    • One might as well confess at the police station the worst of crimes. Because in the land of psychiatry, it is a crime to suffer. “ohh you are sad? Wait until I do a write up on you, you will know sadness and stigma. After all, the ONLY reason you will be stigmatized is because I, the almighty shrink have the power to label you as inadquate in the world”

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  14. Neil thanks for writing.

    We all know why they get locked up. Been going on for eons, since the dawn of animal.
    Because they can, because they have the power. End of story.

    And really, locking them up is not the worst of it. Treating “them” like shit for their whole lives, inflicting the “STIGMA”, which is really ONLY inflicted by the health care or governing agencies themselves.

    It is the new “treason”. Times of old, I mean it just took the power to say that there was something “wrong” with that guy, and it dirtied him forever or until his death.

    Yes lots of “personality disordered” sitting in psychiatry. I guess some MUST be smart enough to know this. Or perhaps people really are that ignorant about life.

    Wonder what it feels like to fuck up a bunch of people’s lives, make money off their “disordered” ways, and then all shrinks fuck off into oblivion like their victims. Thank God they can only do damage for 70 years, and their victims are usually also gone by that time.
    But yes, new shrinks more ignorant than the last are born daILY.

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      • Forced treatment is based on intolerance. I think you, Steve, do have a point, in the statement you make about the word “stigma”, as I follow you with the same word, in quotation marks. People get forcibly locked up, involuntarily committed, and then complain about prejudicial “mistreatment”, calling it “stigma”. Some of the same people who do so, after a fashion, give their own confinement a personal stamp of approval. Doing so represents an evasion, and when it comes to taking on personal responsibility, thereby blaming the other guy, it can represent a double evasion, say, flight from freedom, on the one hand, and flight from assuming responsibility for one’s actions, on the other. There is, after all, a beyond “mental health treatment” world out there, etc., Virginia.

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  15. ““Stigma” really is a euphemism for intentional discrimination.”

    Very true. Anecdotally, what I see on the ground is that people accept the Mental Health Myth and the Austism/Aspergers Hoax for a couple of reasons:

    1. It is pertaining to a family member who is already the designated scapegoat, and usually before adolescence. And so it fills the same needs that Munchhausen’s by Proxy or Facetious Disorder always does. It an also just be a way of settling a family fight. And it is closely coupled to the religious concept of Original Sin, and this amounts to what Lloyd deMauss called “using the child as a poison container.”

    2. Sometimes it is just for the narcotics. They have the same appeal as street drugs and alcohol, and someone in a white coat is writing the prescription. So how can it be bad?

    3. And sometimes it is for the disability money, or just for the social identity which gives them an exception to the Self-Reliance Ethic. And most of the self identified Autism-Aspergers people hold very conservative values and are strong believers in such an ethic.

    4. Sometimes it is because they want to be able to exonerate perpetrators. It is easier to believe that one has some kind of innate disorder or difference, than it is to face the fact that those closest to you and with the most power over you have consistently tried to destroy you.


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    • I agree that almost all mental illness diagnoses are very probably “hoaxes.” I think, in many “mental illness diagnoses”, the real issue is ignored. I think it might actually be a n underlying medical condition or even what could be termed a “learning disorder or difficulty.” As far as the Autism/Asperger’s Spectrum, I am not sure why that might be considered a “hoax”, too. In my opinion, it appears that many who have been diagnosed with this, may have been adversely affected by toxins in the environment or otherwise. I, personally, am terribly uncomfortable in lumping these “disorders” along with the alleged “mental illness disorders.” It also appears to me that in considering “Autism/Asperger’s” as “hoaxes” we may accusing the parents in a negative light, and this may hurt even those who have “Autism/Asperger’s.” There is a much to learn about these matters and it probably would behoove us not to jump to conclusions that could hurt so many. Thank you.

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  16. I wonder Neil, you seem to bring up “mental disorders” instead of “illness”.

    It makes me wonder if you were, or know others who were constructed physically in a fashion that makes them capable of hard outside work. On the rails, on trees, hydro poles, 40 below, or 40 above, 10 hours per day.

    And if you are not equipped to do so, are you physically ill? Disordered? Are you able to run or bike and keep up with the best of them?

    If not, are you disordered?
    Well lucky for the “physically disordered, there are lots of “mental jobs”.

    So if one does not have the emotional “package” to cope, IN THE ENVIRONMENT one happens to be in, is that person then disordered?

    And what IF, what if a child or adult has both, physical and “mental” limitations?

    Are they ILL? “Disordered?

    I really would hate to give all those millions of “physically ill or disordered people” labels that have the whole world discriminate against them.

    Imagine going for help for an aching body, but the doctors and nurses sneer at the patient because AFTER ALL, they are just physically disordered and thus a pariah.

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  17. “Oh stop worrying,” “we’re doing it for their good, and “Well, Prof. X says it’s safe so we have to go with the weight of authority.” Kowtowing to authority also saves them the effort of having to sift through and weigh up reams of complex evidence, as in “think independently.”

    This really sums up a lot of why forced treatment happens. Arguably all of it stems from “for their own good”. That’s why people justify not needing to give compelling evidence. They don’t see it as taking away freedom, rights, and privacy, but helping. So you can’t ask what gives you the right to impede on this person? On what grounds. It’s this person is receiving help, and this expert knows what’s best. Let’s not get in their way. The judge doesn’t take it for what it is. Punitive, and unproven.

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